Asian Public Space since 1945: From Mao to the Mall and Beyond

David Grahame Shane


The form of the city and its public spaces are changing in Asia. This short survey tracks the retreat of the European imperial space systems as Asian nations gained independence and the multi-centered, global corporate system of public space-making that emerged from 1990-2008. It also tracks the appearance of a specifically Asian rural-urban space-making system of urban villages that has emerged as a long cultural continuity in and around Asian cities.

Four models of urban space are examined: Metropolis, Megalopolis, Fragmented Metropolis, and Megacity/Metacity. All are simultaneously present in the Asian city, forming parallel timelines weaving around each other. After the 2008 crash there is reason to pause and re-evaluate this highly successful, emerging Asian urban system and its public spaces, especially in view of the likely implications of energy supplies and climate change on key Asian cities located in coastal and river valley situations.

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