This exhibit aims to open a small window into the world of Southeast Asian vernacular architecture from the photographic archive collections of the city’s two universities, Oxford Brookes and the University of Oxford.
The buildings that Carl Alexander Gibson-Hill and those that Paul Oliver photographed directly respond to the environment, to the intense light, to the heat, providing coolness and shade, by positioning for good cross-ventilation and by building on stilts over water, on the margins. In these times of accelerated resource depletion we must re-learn these lessons.
This raises a question: what is the basis of the transmission of knowledge over generations? Is it learning by doing? Do the under- and over- currents of globalised economic demands and rural flight by youth to the cities and as migrants imperil this culture, placing it now under threat of disappearing? If so, it is also symptomatic of rising environmental threats, caused both by human and natural disasters and dislocations. The theme of the 5th Oxford Symposium is “Human and Environmental Welfare in Southeast Asia”. May this exhibition provoke thought and debate around these issues.
Zaha Hadid, the architect, who conceived this building - sadly, very recently deceased - said in her Royal Gold Medal Lecture on 3 February 2016, “Architecture must contribute to society’s progress and ultimately to our individual and collective wellbeing.”
The exhibition is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through to April 24th at the Middle East Centre, St Antony’s College.
The opening will be followed at 5 p.m. by a lecture, in the same venue, by José Ramos-Horta (Former President of East Timor, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) on the topic ‘Timor-Leste, Challenges in Post-Independence: From Dream to Reality’. Registration is required to guarantee admission.
This exhibition is part of the Festival of Southeast Asia in Oxford, which features lectures, a film festival, dance and music events as well as other museum and library exhibitions. The full programme can be found at www.asean.ac/festival. The festival is partnered with the 5th Southeast Asian Studies Symposium, to be held at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, on 14-16th April 2016.