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BOOK:Great Urban Places in Asia

-Sense of Place-

This book is about the “sense of place” of great urban places in Asia. Many great urban places in Asia have lost or are losing their unique sense of place. Chaotically mixed, vibrant “public places” with their special historic and cultural flavors, and traditional and vernacular living environments are being replaced by cityscapes that follow modern urban patterns with little variation across the world.

Modernization was almost synonymous with Westernization for many Asian cities and countries. Cities that were once designed for pedestrians have been transformed to favor automobiles. Governments, developers and urban residents take the changes for granted and assume they will solve social problems and make the society more efficient and economically strong. Pressure for this type of “placeless” development is strong in many Asian cities, and they are in danger of losing what remains of their unique character and sense of place. It is time to respect the unique sense of place that speaks to local culture and the passage of time, and to celebrate and preserve their uniqueness and human-scale way of life for future generations.

Traditional urban places in Asia, especially older and more casual environments, are sometimes regarded as outdated, poor, overcrowded, dirty, and not aesthetically beautiful. However, many of them have been well used and favored by their residents, merchants, and visitors over decades or centuries. Their design is based on local character and culture and is strongly influenced by their geography, climate, culture, and traditional industries. It is important to preserve these places for the next generation by adapting them to the modern world by incremental improvements.

Among many cities from West Asia to the Far East, 20 cities and urban districts were selected to study, research, and describe. The author visited all the cities described in this book between 2011 and 2015, and captured their sense of place with drawings, written descriptions and comparative scales of maps.

The final chapter of this book discusses the conditions that help create great urban places in Asia and the desirable direction for future improvement and/or redevelopment of urban centers. The readers of this book - urban planners, designers, developers, citizens, students, government officials, and all who like urban places- will feel, enjoy, and share the unique sense of place present in cities across Asia.


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