The Latin American architect Ana Rascovsky participated in the international Summer Session of the Asia Design Forum. This forum was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 31 July to 20 August 2005. Ana Rascovsky works for Supersudaca, a Latin American think tank for architecture research. She stresses the importance of an excellent south-south relation in sharing cultural knowledge and experiences.
It is crucial to build horizontal relations between peripheral countries. As peripheral locations we have in common that we all get to know about what is happening in Europe or USA, because these countries have the main publication and distribution industries. We always run the risk of importing prefab models, instead of learning to develop our own local ideology.
I enjoyed learning about the way in which local issues are dealt with in different parts of the globe. Gary Chang, for example, a young architect from Hong Kong, gave a presentation about how he deals with size and ever changing matters. The Malaysian architect Huat Lim, talked about materiality and extremely strict regulations. The amazing Dato Ken Young, who is fascinated by ecosystems, reformulated the whole building concept in Asian countries. At the conference he explained how he uses technology as a means to achieve passive energy in his buildings.
In Asian architecture very different issues play a role compared to Latin American architecture. This is true both in terms of the general vision for the country as well as in the local private sector. During the conference we went on a tour of Putra Jaya and Cyber Jaya, the two new cities created by the last Prime Minister of Malaysia. They were built to perform as the Finance and the Business satellite towns respectively. Not only were we struck by the opulence of the place and by the extreme spirit of the master plan, but also by the people’s submission to the government’s vision. We sensed an enormous lack of criticism on these projects and even a reluctance to talk about them.
Latin America deals with a totally different situation, where criticism and positions are over discussed among architects, but projects are rarely ever realized. Government Planning is practically non-existent and cities are built by the private sector. Still, our informality, uncertainty, and spontaneity add ‘life’ to our cities in a way that is hardly found in the planned Malaysia.
Visitors of the Asia Design Forum were amazed when Supersudaca presented its work and the way in which we work. Our ‘do-it-ourselves’ attitude was warmly appreciated. There were also certain similarities with some Asian countries, like India for example. It was agreed that it is generally underestimated how much one architect can influence reality.