When: Wednesday 21st June, 2017 | 18:30 – 19:45
Where: RIBA | 66 Portland Place | London W1B 1AD
Event cost: Free
Join us for a presentation by the winner of the President’s Medal for Research and winner of the President’s Award for Research – History and Theory category, Dr Edward Denison on the winning work: Asmara – Africa’s Modernist City.
In January 2016, the State of Eritrea submitted its first ever application to UNESCO for inscription on the World Heritage List. The nominated site was the country’s modernist capital, Asmara.
An urban planning process based on functional and racial zoning demonstrates the Italian colonial response from the late-nineteenth century to the challenges of modern urban requirements in a highland African setting. The architectural character exemplifies a period of intense development in the 1930s that coincided with the global proliferation and artistic apogee of pre-war modernism and its various forms. The research challenges conventional perceptions based on universalistic norms, inviting a reassessment of how colonial heritage and modernism are perceived beyond the Eurocentric gaze.
Eritrea’s decision to conserve Asmara’s early colonial era architecture represents a profoundly different attitude towards architectural heritage and its interpretation and treatment compared with many other post-colonial settings. Asmara’s nomination also presents an opportunity to encourage critical reflections on cultural relations and heritage globally, and to promote stability and prosperity locally.
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