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* Chris Abel *
"Abel writes in a brisk, no-nonsense manner and steers
clear of glib acceptance of received wisdom"
Andrew Ballantyne, Times Literary Supplement
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On Self-Organizing Systems
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On Customized Automation
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On Critical Theory
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On Cultural Identity
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On Rational Design
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On Empathy
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On Innovation and Metaphor
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On Globalization
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On History
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On Henning Larsen
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On Norman Foster
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On Richard England
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On Postmodernism
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On Sustainability
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On Deconstructivism
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On Biotech Architecture
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On Vertical Architecture
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On Harry Seidler
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On Foster and Gehry
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On Cyberspace
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On Writing
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On Australian Architecture
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On Virtual Evolution
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On The Vertical Garden City
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On The Extended Self
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* ON HISTORY *
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For both monumental and non-monumental architecture generally, the crucial measure of historical import is not the individual work taken separately, but the whole linked series of precedents and later variants, with all their transformations over time, each of which becomes an actual or potential model which can beget still more transformations. Replications of the model provide those essential elements of continuity through change by which cultures measure their lineage. Transformations of building form are the imprint made on these enduring models by the more particular circumstances of place, programme and history, as interpreted by the builders of the day

...Nor, as used to be thought, does the influence of existing models hinder creativity. On the contrary, the creation of new models in architecture most often arises out of a cross-pollination between existing but previously unrelated ideas and forms, a process also best described as analogical, and which is often stimulated by exchanges between different cultures

...In these confusing times of the global village, some comfort may therefore be taken from observing that the true grist of regional architecture lies in a creative process of cultural cross-fertilization and localization of imported models, rather than the purified identities associated with the usual references.

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* From: 'Regional transformations'. The Architectural Review, November 1986, pp. 38-39. *
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Though the different countries which comprise South-east Asia have distinct cultural histories, they also have a number of key factors in common which continue to shape the course of their development. Most important of these is a shared linguistic culture, based on the broad spread of the Indonesian/Malay language, or variants of it, throughout (Thailand excepted) most of the region. In addition, there are the importance of the nuclear family in peasant society and the related high status of women, the cultural complexity generated by the assimilation of imported religions from India, China and the Middle East, and the impact of Western colonialism. Finally, there have been the shared post-colonial experiences of independence and nationalism, which are still working their way through, and the parallel search for national and regional identities.

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* From "South-East Asia," Chapter 55 in Dan Cruickshank, ed., Sir Banister Fletcher's A History of Architecture, 20th ed., 1996, p. 1594. *
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Most architectural history is bad history. Buildings and styles come and go almost in a world of their own, their historians too intent on cataloguing their formal and spatial attributes to pay much attention to the larger political and social events which ultimately lend them meaning, and frequently change it.

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* From: 'The New German Parliament; Reichstag'. In D. Jenkins (ed). Norman Foster: Works 4. Prestel, 2003, p. 262. *
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