Archiving and Activating: Archival Materials and Asia’s Architectural Past and Future

Archiving and Activating:

Archival Materials and Asia’s Architectural Past and Future


Organizers / 主办单位

Asian Architectural Archive Center

Architecture Internationalization Demonstration School of SEU

Department of Academic Planning and Development of SEU




Date / 会议时间

27-28 August, 2022, Beijing Time


Venue / 会议地点

Asian Architectural Archive Center (SEU Si-Pai-Lou Campus) / ZOOM

东南大学四牌楼校区亚洲建筑档案中心 / 线上



The International Forum aims to probe the meaning, function, and future prospects of architectural archives in educational institutions, and the special role of archives in architecture and related fields in the development of Asian architecture. In addition to professors of Southeast University, professors from world-renowned universities like the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, ETH Zurich, Tel Aviv University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and the University of Virginia will take part in this forum, as well as directors/curators of archives/libraries established within educational institutions in America, Switzerland, Israel, Bangladesh and Puerto Rico.

The forum will be held in the premises of the newly established Asian Architectural Archive Center (AAAC), whose initial development phase is sited in an old but now renovated building to the west of the old library. Being the first of this type of international archival institution in China, the AAAC's purpose is to not only rescue, preserve, and make accessible documents in architecture and related fields, but also conduct research, promote education and advance the discipline.

Schedule | 会议议程

Titles and Abstracts | 演讲题目及摘要

Mohsen Mostafavi


Professor and Former Dean of the Graduate School of Design in Harvard University


Archive Project


The lecture will address two issues both related to the speaker’s research on Japanese Urbanization. The first part will focus on the acquisition of the Kenzo Tange archive and the role of archives of drawings as opposed to the archives of books. The second part will focus on the role of our web-based archive of research at




Director of the Institute of Architectural History & Theory and Professor at Southeast University


Isomorphism: The Classification of Ancient Chinese Books and the Social Production of Ancient Chinese Architecture

书同文 行同伦——中国古籍文献分类与中国古建筑的社会建造

The classification of ancient Chinese books has its own unique system, at least from the Sui Dynasty to Qing Dynasty (581-1911) maintained a stable structure, represents the regularity of Chinese traditional knowledge system and cultural system development. It also is a kind of cognitive the social production of ancient Chinese architecture, because to some extent, architecture has accumulated technological social creation and cultural belonging. The lecture will analyze the isomorphism of the hierarchy about the both of documents and buildings. On this basis how the complexity and intersections of architecture will be further discussed, it involves changes depending on person, places and time, so as to contribute to a deeper understanding of the order and intrinsic richness of the social construction of ancient Chinese architecture.  


HSIA Chu-joe


Professor of Architecture Internationalization Demonstration School of Southeast University


Activating the Discipline of Architecture: Architecture, Cities, and Regions in Asia


The author points out Asian Architectural Archive Center represents the real work of The Belt and Road Initiative, and puts emphasis on the specificity of Asian studies, which relates to the precious experience of the way of development of Asian countries. Then, for the purpose of activating the discourse of architecture and urbanism, there are worth to pay attention on two characteristics of the archive materials: the verbal matters and the visual matters. Finally, to conclude with spatial symbolic of AAAC as “Pavilion holding scripture depository” of traditional temple: it is not only a building for documents preserving, but also a “living architecture” where activating the discipline of architecture leading by advance scholarly research in architectural history and theory.


LI Shiqiao


Weedon Professor in Asian Architecture of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia


Archive and Time


Archive establishes an order of the past and a conception of time since the ancient Greeks. What if time in Chinese thought is fundamentally different from that in Greek philosophy? How would this understanding impact on the establishment of an archive in China? François Jullien argues, in The Silent Transformations (2011), that Western philosophy has conceived of time since the ancient Greeks as consisting of determinable events and ruptures, rendering the notion of transition incomprehensible. Chinese thought, however, is far more tuned towards transition, as silent transformations (qianyi mohua), giving us a divergent framework; its modern rendition of the Western concept of time is “between moments” (shijian), subtly shifting from events to transformations. If, as Derrida suggests in Archive Fever (1996), Western anxiety of the archive is one of omission, China’s anxiety may be one of loss of the past being archived away. China’s insistence on renovating past documents and architecture (xiujiu ruxin) may have indeed given us an important opportunity to rethink.


Werner Oechslin


Professor of art history and architecture at ETH Zurich, Director of Werner Oechslin Library


Surrogates? NO, (humanmade) CULTURE


Eran Neuman


founding director of the Azrieli Architectural Archive at Tel Aviv Museum of Art and a Professor of architecture at the Azrieli School of Architecture, Tel Aviv University


Activating the Archive: Historical Material in Contemporary Context


Established more than a decade ago, the Azrieli Architectural Archive stores collections of leading architects and architectural scholars from Israel.Prof. Arch. Eran Neuman will present the challenges that he and his colleagues faced in formulating the archive, as well as future challenges ahead of them. 


Shin-ichi Okuyama


Deputy Dean and Professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology


Architectural Archives of the Real-size Buildings in the Tokyo Tech Campus


There are several specific buildings designed by former and active professors, corresponding to each time, in Tokyo Tech Ookayama campus. It can be considered to functioning as one of the architectural archives of the real-size buildings. In this short lecture, such kinds of buildings are introduced, and how Tokyo Tech have preserved and cherished them are shown. Moreover, it is mentioned, in case of each actual design phase, graduate students of Tokyo Tech have taken part in working under the professors in charge of each project and been able to learn architectural sprit and practice from them any time. Therefore, it is clarified that those archives are also functioning as practical teaching materials. 


Philip Ursprung


Professor of the History of Art and Architecture and Former Dean at ETH Zurich


Fluid Archives: Access to the Recent Past


The majority of architectural archives are static and passive. They collect legacies from retired or dead architects and their offices. They mainly focus on objects. The structure of these object-based, static archives, informs research. It privileges the monographic approach, the reproduction of sources, and the distance in time.

Following the ideas of the Canadian archivist Terry Cook, the presentation opts for a dynamic archive which, rather than focusing on objects, locates processes. This dynamic, or “fluid” archive can adapt to the current acceleration of historical change and give access to the recent past. Rather than copying the model of the European archives as repositories of static knowledge, Asia has the opportunity to develop alternative forms of dynamic archives.



David Leatherbarrow


Foreign Dean and Professor of the Architecture Internationalization Demonstration School of the Southeast University


Then Now


This talk will introduce a set of observations about what archives have meant for me in my own work, also what I take to be their typical characteristics (though each has its own character or atmosphere), and what one would look for in the development of a new one. I’ll provide brief descriptions of four archives in different parts of the world and explain what they provided and provoked in my research, writing, and teaching. I’ll also try to address the basic question about what archives mean for the discipline of architecture and the society to which it contributes—more generally, how things produced “then” are pertinent “now.”

这个讲座将谈论:1)通过一组我的亲身体会和观察,讲述档案馆对我本人工作的重要意义,2)我总结的档案馆的典型特征(尽管每个档案馆都有自己的特点或氛围),3)以及人们对一个正在创立的档案馆所抱有的期盼。我将简要介绍四个不同地区的档案馆,并解释它们对我的研究、写作和教学所提供的帮助与激发的思考。我还将尝试解决一个基本问题,即档案对建筑学科、以及对建筑所服务的社会而言有着怎样的意义,换言之,“当时”产生的事物如何与“现在 ”相关联。

William Whitaker


Curator of the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design


Penn’s Architectural Archives at 44


Enrique Vivoni-Farage


Founder and Curator of the Architecture and Construction Archives of the University of Puerto Rico (AACUPR)


The Architecture Archive at the School of Architecture, University of Puerto Rico: An Active Institution


Since its creation 36 years ago, the Architecture and Construction Archive at the University of Puerto Rico has become a center for the conservation of 20th century architecture in Puerto Rico, but also its premier research center. Through outreach activities and scholarly publications and exhibitions the Archives has reconstructed the histories of 20th century Puerto Rican architecture and aims at being an essential component in the education of future architect.


Kazi Ashraf


director-general of Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements in Dhaka, Bangladesh


Archive: A Construction of the Future


I consider the (architectural) archive as a “memory palace” but in the context of a cultural amnesia. In the late 1970s, a group of conscientious architects in Bangladesh realized and identified gaps in their historical repertoire that, they argued, made the production of contemporary architecture arbitrary, irrelevant, and even vacuous. Such gaps were seen as indicative of an amnesia. In order to restore an archival content – a cultural repository – a select group of architects formed the Chetana Architecture Research Society in 1983. Documenting and archiving assumed a greater, critical role – the work was seen as an attempt for recovery of loss and a cultural project for catalyzing contemporary architecture. Besides intellectual activism, their tasks included identification, documentation and dissemination of works of architecture that had virtually remained invisible in architectural discourse. In the programs of Chetana, archiving became an urgent cultural project, a fundamental resource for the production of the new, and a catalyst for the current energetic production in contemporary architecture in Bangladesh. The Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements, founded in 2015, is a natural continuation of the intentions of Chetana but working at the larger scale of architecture – the city, the region and the landscape. How does the project of archiving work at that scale?


This international forum welcomes off-campus teachers/students/architects. And the Zoom conference room will offer an option for Chinese interpretation. Please find the registration form attached.


典藏与激活:文献研究与亚洲建筑的往昔与未来 (附件).docx