East Asia traditionally includes Far East Asia and Southeast Asia where several religions interact to develop into distinct local cultures, thus creating a rich history of architecture. The fusion of outside religions into the local cultures and the fusion of varied sub-cultures are particularly expressed by traditional building art. Buddhist architecture and artifacts in China, Japan and Southeast Asia embody different schools of thought and the interpretations of the same religion. Chinese Buddhism deeply merged with traditional Daoist and Confucian thoughts, and their philosophical blending is materialized through gardens, academies and monasteries. The emerging Buddhist Chan School in the Chinese Song dynasty (c. 11th century) resulted from the combination of Mahayana Buddhism from India and the Daoist idea of void. The meditation of Chan was later transformed into the Zen of Japanese Buddhism, which was embodied by unique dry gardens. In the transformation of Hinduism in Bali, Indonesia, the development of religion has gone through the localizing process. The architecture of Hindu shrines and temples were transformed in accordance with local beliefs, cultures, and building traditions. The architectural acculturation of an outside religion, e.g., Jesuit Churches, was also related to the local geomantic philosophy of environment.
Following Marco Polo’s legendary travels to the capital of China during the Yuan dynasty (c. 13th century), his stories of the “invisible cities” along the Silk Road began to reveal the mystic East to the West. During the 16th-18th centuries, European Catholic missionaries introduced Western art and architecture to East Asia. One unique construction they accomplished was the “Western-like” garden within the Chinese imperial garden Yuanming Yuan in the late 18th century. Through architectural encounters, the Western mode of representation fused with the Eastern mode. The distinction of architectural representations reframed the perception of the world and introduced the sense of modernity to tradition. The Western influence through 19th-century colonialism mingled with the Hindu and Muslim traditions in Southeastern Asia and defined a different root of modern architecture. The conflict between tradition and modernization of architecture in East Asia continues to the present day. After the World War II, when Japanese architecture embraced Western design movements, Chinese architecture was dominated by mono-centric realism. How to revive poetical dwelling through critical design approaches remains a serious challenge but the great hope for East Asian architecture and cultures in the 21st century.
Although controversial and debatable in scholarship, since the 1980s the rapid urbanization in China and other East Asian countries has provided one of the most exciting markets for the building industry and international architecture. An increasing number of American-educated architects are practicing in East Asian metropolises and appear on the frontier of cultural encounters through architecture. To prepare our students to become future architects who can be pioneers engaging in cultural encounters through shaping meaningful built environment, the East Asia Program of the School of Architecture, University of Florida integrates architectural education, research and practice through active engagement with varied regional architecture in East Asia. The program offers to senior undergraduate and graduate students a 6-week summer program in an East Asian country and includes two courses—the cross-cultural design studio and the critical history-theory seminar. This summer program includes a joint design charrette with a local school of architecture and trips to some selected cities and remote vernacular settlements in rural areas. The program will communicate with regional leading architectural schools, scholars and architects. We will also visit thoughtful new buildings and historical cultural sites. The relationship between modernity and tradition observed through travel will be studied and developed into the critical design strategy through the joint design studio and theoretical writings.
The program is directed by faculty members who have extensive research and active practice records in East Asia. With excellent skills of local languages, rich travel experience and active relationships with architectural academia in East Asia, the faculty can provide theoretical and practitioner guidance to students in exploring cross-cultural architectural design for poetical and ethical built environment. The program provides an exchange platform for the faculty and students from the University of Florida and the East Asian universities for substantial architectural encounters.
Undergraduate design 8/graduate advanced-3 studio (6 credits)
History-theory undergraduate/graduate seminar (3 credits)
24 students (seniors and graduates)
Travel in Hong Kong, China, or other East Asian country, which will include a 3-week joint design program with a local school of architecture. Throughout the joint design program, the UF students will be divided into six design groups, mixed with local architectural students. Each group is required to complete the comprehensive design packet for the assigned project.
Based on the travel, design and research experience in Summer A, complete a ten-page, double-spaced research paper by the end of this semester.