Dr Amit Srivastava5, Dr Peter Scriver5
5The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
By the late 1960s, with the advent of jet powered commercial air travel, the rise of a new generation of hotels in modern Asian cities was beginning to transcend the dualism between nationalism and internationalism in the architecture and urbanism of the first half of the century. Whilst the expansion of Asian hotel companies was changing the position of elite Asian entrepreneurs in a transnational field, the projects for the actual design of these hotels were fertile grounds for negotiation, where governments, developers and architects all modified their individual concerns to accommodate the complex aspirations of the elite entrepreneurial class. Finally, the hotels themselves furnished safe spaces for progressive discourse that facilitated the exchange of ideas beyond national limits, not least with the International press among other overseas travellers. The hotels were also spaces for exhibition and performance that encouraged the construction of personal and professional networks across many internal social and cultural borders as well.
Connecting cognate developments in three different Asian contexts – Bombay, Bali and Beijing – the paper examines the agency of Australian architect/designer Alan Gilbert and his partner Sarah Lo who practiced out of Hong Kong. We explore how their interior design practice engaged with different entrepreneurs in the hotel and building industries to fashion architecturally hybrid spaces that sat somewhere between and apart from both national and international priorities.
Amit Srivastava is the Director (India) for the Centre of Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA) based at the University of Adelaide, in Australia. His current research focuses on the transnational exchange of materials and processes between Australia and Asia, and its impact on the professionalisation of architectural practice in Asia. Latest publications include India: Modern Architectures in History (Reaktion, 2015) and The Elements of Modern Architecture (Thames & Hudson, 2014).
Peter Scriver is co-founder and Director (South and Southeast Asia) of the Centre for Asian and Middle-Eastern Architecture (CAMEA) at the University of Adelaide, Australia. He is a critical authority on the architectural history of modern India, and colonial and postcolonial architectural culture and production more broadly. He has published a number of seminal books including After the Masters: Contemporary Indian Architecture (Mapin 1990), Colonial Modernities: Building, Dwelling and Architecture in British India and Ceylon (Routledge 2007), with Vikramaditya Prakash, and India: Modern Architectures in History (Reaktion 2015), with Amit Srivastava.