A Discussion on Architecture and Modernity

News 2009

​A Discussion on Architecture and Modernity

February 27, 2009

​On 27 and 28 February, a workshop for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) entitled Homogeneity of Representations was held in Vancouver. Organised by AKU-ISMC Professor Modjtaba Sadria, the Workshop was the second in the AKAA’s Knowledge Construction series.

It brought together scholars from across North America with expertise in architecture, urban studies, political science, geography, anthropology and philosophy. The Workshop aimed to explore the ways in which culture and built form have become standardised or universalised across different societies (a process of homogenisation).

This issue has been recognised as one of the key outcomes of globalisation and modernity. The workshop also explored the opposite process – that of differentiation and local resistance to global forms of architecture and culture (processes of heterogenisation).

Interestingly, the Workshop highlighted how these two opposing forces often occur simultaneously, in an ongoing, hybrid, dynamic relationship that shapes the built environment and cultural expressions. The impact of these processes on the public sphere and the lived environment was also examined.

Presentations addressed several aspects of this topic including: cultural homogenisation and its relationship with modernity, post colonialism, nationalism and the emergence of global cities; the homogenising effects of urban restructuring; local construction practices; and, the transforming identities and boundaries of urban space. Contextual examples included China, Brazil, Indonesia, India and Chicago.


Nezar Al Sayyad, Professor, Architecture, City Planning, Urban Design, and Urban History; Associate Dean for International Programs; Chair, Center for Middle Eastern Studies; Director, International Association for Traditional Environments, University of California, Berkeley
Ian Angus, Professor of Humanities, Dept of Sociology and Anthropology and Department of Humanities, Simon Fraser University
George Baird, Dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design and Professor of Architecture, University of Toronto
Mari Fujita, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, University of British Columbia
James Holston, Associate Professor, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley
Jyoti Hosagrahar, Director, Sustainable Urbanism International, Columbia University, New York, and Bangalore, India
Anthony D. King, Emeritus Professor, Art History and Sociology, State University of New York, Binghamton
Abidin Kusno, Associate Professor, Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, Institute of Asian Research, University of British Columbia
Arijit Sen, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture & Urban Planning, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Brigitte Shim, Associate Professor, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto
Edward Soja, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning, School of Public Affairs, UCLA

Razia Velji
Coordinator, Planning & Academic Development
Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations
Email: razia.velji@aku.edu