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May 07 , 2009

Public Space in Urban Asia


Over the past few decades, rapid urbanisation has threatened to erode public space, especially in emerging economies. Market forces that prioritise profit generation are allowed to construct venues of consumption in its place. Though their physical appearance may resemble traditional public space, in reality, they are greatly restrictive and diminished in affordability, accessibility and social meaning. It is in this context that William SW Lim, chairman of Asian Urban Lab, has brought together architects, designers, historians, sociologists and urbanists from the region to discuss public space in selected Asian cities.

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Part One contains essays from participants from Chongqing, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Taipei and observations from commentators. Several essays by William SW Lim on the subject round off the discussion in Part Two. The thoughtful essays in Public Space in Urban Asia emphasise how engaging with the present actuality of cities and public awareness of spatial justice in cities are crucial — for it is the achievement of spatial justice that will help create a greater level of happiness across societies in our increasingly urbanised world.

    • Introduction and Acknowledgements
    • Foreword — Public Space in Asia: Ways of Knowing and Acting (Leon Van Schaik)
  • Part I: Public Space in Urban Asia:
    • Public Space Today (William S W Lim)
    • The Multiple Spaces of Bukit Brown (Terence Chong and Chua Ai Lin)
    • Vestigial as Alternative: The KTM Rail Corridor and the Search for the Un-regularized (Liew Kai Khiun)
    • The End of the Railroad in Singapore: A Photo Essay (Claire Leow)
    • Singapore's Void Decks (Stephen Cairns)
    • Hawker Centres: Siting/Sighting Singapore's Food Heritage (Randy Chan and Jolene Lee)
    • Carnivalism in Public Spaces in Chongqing (Wei Haoyan)
    • Taxonomy of Public Space in Contemporary Hong Kong (Tat Lam and Benedetta Tavecchia)
    • Common Space and Public Space in Contemporary Urbanisation (Marco Kusumawijaya)
    • Thick Crust of Time: Kuala Lumpur (Lim Teng Ngiom)
    • Illegal Architecture: In the Name of Community (Roan Ching-Yueh)
  • Commentaries:
    • Re-making Public Space Through and in Asia (Jane M Jacobs)
    • Recalling the Political in Public Space (H Koon Wee)
    • Sustaining Publics and Their Spaces: William Lim's Writings on Architecture and Space (Lilian Chee)
  • Part II: Change We Must and Other Essays:
    • Global Dynamic Change and Power Rebalance (William S W Lim)
    • Commentary on Incomplete Urbanism (Andrew Lee, Leong Teng Wui and Ong Swee Hong)
    • Spatial Justice and Happiness (William S W Lim)
    • Spatial Justice — A Singapore Case Study (William S W Lim)
    • Change We Must (William S W Lim)
    • Works Cited

Readership: Graduate and undergraduate students majoring in architecture, urban planning, sociology and geography; general readers interested in cities, heritage and development; city planners, developers, policy makers and economists.
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