An Intrinsic Model for a Non-neutral, Plural National School
Wong, Jacqueline Huey Yean
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CitationWong, Jacqueline Huey Yean. 2022. An Intrinsic Model for a Non-neutral, Plural National School. Master's thesis, Harvard Graduate School of Design.
AbstractWhen Malaysia gained independence from the British in 1957, it took on a national architectural identity that was rooted in the language and neutrality of tropical modernism, which was deemed appropriate for the multi-ethnic Malaysian society. At the turn of the century, the government of Malaysia built a new capital city, Putrajaya: a singular ethnocentric construction, modeled after architectural forms of the Arab nations, that elevates Malay-Muslim identity above others in the plural nation. As opposed to the homogeneous, imposed ethnocentrism of Putrajaya, the former capital city of Kuala Lumpur embodies a hybridized, heterogeneous accumulation of multiple identities and differences.
If Putrajaya represents an extrinsic model that outwardly exhibits a Malay-Muslim identity by reproducing the architectural forms of Arab nations and turning them into consumable artifacts, Kuala Lumpur represents an intrinsic model of a contested city where confrontations and accumulation of differences produce new hybridized conditions in a constant state of flux.
In its search for a national identity, the Malaysian state has oscillated between two extremes: a singular ethnocentric iconography on the one hand and a flattening neutral modernism on the other.
This thesis asserts the relevance of iconography in producing an architectural identity in the context of a plural society. It draws on the found conditions of Kuala Lumpur to propose the intrinsic model as a technique which calls upon culturally diverse referents to produce an inclusive and plural national architectural identity. This technique is investigated against the program of the Malaysian national school: a pervasive and relentlessly banal modernist typology that serves an ethnically diverse populace but is neutralized by prescriptive government pre-approved plans and generic facades. This thesis proposes an intrinsic model for a non-neutral, plural national school.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37373972