Architecture experts stress importance of Modern Heritage Conservation in AUN-ADERA Inaugural Meeting and Symposium

By Erika Marie Santelices and Fimma Putri Noviandrarini, AUN Interns
3 August 2020

The Department of Architecture of the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Secretariat of the AUN Architectural Design Education and Research in ASEAN (AUN-ADERA) thematic network held their Inaugural Meeting & Symposium on 27-28 July 2020. It was the first time that the members of the network gathered together following its establishment during the 10th AUN Rectors’ Meeting and 34th AUN Board of Trustees Meeting in Brunei Darussalam in 2018.

This Inaugural Meeting & Symposium was conducted virtually under the theme “Modern Heritage Conservation in SEAsia: Education, Design, and Research.” The meeting was formally commenced when Prof. Wong Yunn Chii, one of the Co-Conveners of AUN-ADERA, greeted all of the participants from 7 countries in Southeast Asia and gave a brief introduction about AUN-ADERA.

This was followed by Prof. Tan Eng Chye, the President of NUS, who stressed the importance of setting up such a network as a regional platform to raise public awareness of modern heritage conservation and to collaborate with academics in order to find solutions in modern heritage conservation through research and education.

Dr. Choltis Dhirathiti, the AUN Executive Director, conveyed his support to AUN-ADERA as this first gathering shows the significance of new bilateral and multilateral ties among a group of people who are passionate and interested in the future of Architectural Design Education and Research which are important for the region. As the AUN’s Executive Director, Dr. Choltis confirmed that AUN-ADERA will be given tremendous support and that he wishes for their success in their future endeavors.

Prof. Dr. Ho Puay Peng, UNESCO Chair on Architectural Heritage Conservation and Management in Asia, also gave his remarks by focusing on the importance of AUN-ADERA in advancing architectural research in the ASEAN region, re-addressing the Western-centric education system in the region, and addressing the preservation of architectural heritages in each ASEAN country.

In the two-day meeting, 23 university representatives across 7 countries shared their respective curriculums and discussed the importance of preserving architectural modern heritages. Associate Professor Johannes Widodo from NUS, mentioned the need for architects to pay attention to the ethical principles of conservation as this process deals major changes and affects the histories of people living such structures.

The higher education institution is faced with a challenge to introduce heritage conservation to younger generations and all of the representatives presented how each of their universities sought to overcome this. One example is from Dr. Peeraya Boonprasong who introduced a project named ‘Dern Do’ in Silpakorn University, Thailand. The project is to display photographs of modern heritage sites for students, hoping that it could help students have a better understanding of heritage buildings. Some universities also take a more modern approach, such as the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in the Philippines which uses Instagram to promote modern heritage conservation. Ar. Caryn Paredes-Santillan, the representative speaker from UST, explained that Instagram can stimulate the interest of students for modern heritage conservation and can be a soft exposure for the general public about the issue.

In addition to the presentation from the university representatives, 2 keynote speakers also presented their ideas in the two-day meeting.

Prof. Masami Kobayashi from Meiji University. They spoke about the International House (I-House) located in Tokyo, Japan, explaining its rich history and the methods used to preserve the building such as seismic retrofit strengthening. The main takeaway is that preservation and restoration should consider the “authenticity” and multi-functionality of a building in a sustainable context.

For Day 2, Ar. Teh Joo Heng, the Chief Examiner on Singapore Board of Architects and Associate Professor in the NUS Department of Architecture, presented some of his projects on conserving modern heritage. According to him, one of the most crucial issues in conservation is the decision of demolishing a building. Architects need to critically assess whether the modern heritage site needs to go under total demolition. Oftentimes, total demolition is only a waste of resources and is environmentally unsustainable.

Looking forward, the meeting also discussed the future plans of the organization. Prof. Wong reaffirmed the vision, mission and organizational structure of the network. The discussion was flooded with various suggestions and responses from the participants. It is to be expected that the AUN-ADERA future work plan would be finalized within 3 months. AUN-ADERA also encourages universities in SEA to join and participate in the network.

All of the information about AUN-ADERA is now accessible on its official website (http://aun-adera.net) which was launched at the symposium. The website will also be used to promote the work of the network and maintain the communication among participating universities. The symposium participants were enthusiastic and looking forward to future collaboration with AUN-ADERA.

It was also acknowledged in the inaugural meeting that 21 participating universities agreed and accepted to be the pioneer members of the AUN-ADERA. They are as follows:

1. Chiang Mai University
2. University of Indonesia
3. Bandung Institute of Technology
4. University Malaya
5. University of the Philippines
6. De La Salle University – College of Saint Benilde
7. University of Santo Tomas
8. Universitas Gadjah Mada
9. Universiti Sains Malaysia
10. Chulalongkorn University
11. National University of Singapore
12. Thammasat University
13. Mandalay Technological University
14. Universitas Islam Indonesia
15. Yangon Technological University
16. Silpakorn University
17. Singapore University of Technology and Design
18. Parahyangan Catholic University
19. National University of Civil Engineering
20. University of Architecture Ho Chi Minh City
21. Hanoi Architectural University