Night View of Chidorigafuchi, Tokyo

As spring comes, we are approaching a pivot point in the middle of March, when the Territorial Design Study Unit will host an international seminar on the topic of When History Meets Modernity: Access to the Integration of Urbanization, Historical Preservation and Community Legacy in Asian Metropolises, which will keep an eye on urban planning and design pertinent to historical neighborhood in Asian cities.

Despite the large differences in history and outcome of many Asian counties, it is quite common to witness rapid urban development has destructed a slew of historical urban heritages formed through different time periods. During the last 30 years, there are tremendously emerging initiatives tackling with historical preservation in Asian metropolises. Such phenomena can be viewed as the movements to re-examine the past planning system in Asia which prioritized development over preservation. Too often local inhabitants are left out of discussions about the future of their places, meanwhile innovative grassroots approaches to the development pressures faced by urban heritage are seldom considered. One of the recurrent criticisms is that urban heritage conservation and sustainable development, defined as entailing both economic growth and increasing social equity, are paradoxical aggregations that attempt to bring together fields with contradictory objectives and methods. The aim of the seminar is to explore how conservation and development come together in the notion of balance, which is an oft-heard planning objective, but in fact, one of the chief conundrums bedeviling contemporary heritage theory and practice as well as urban planning and management. Our discussion especially in Asian urban contexts where a long history has resulted in a rich legacy of the past, both tangible and intangible, and where pressures to create new environmental conditions, claimed to be better suited to the needs of modern economic activates, are concentrated. So our efforts are directed towards identifying by whom and for whom conservation and development policies and programs are established.

Finally, I would like to end my text with a photo I took in last year’s spring, which demonstrates the best urban environment in my opinion: an integration of historical heritage, natural landscape and modern development. May this photo bring inspiration to you and wish you all contribute your ideas pertinent to such topics.

2017.3.10 X.Zhou