Asian Public Space since 1945: From Mao to the Mall and Beyond


  • David Grahame Shane



The form of the city and its public spaces are changing in Asia. This short survey tracks the retreat of the European imperial space systems as Asian nations gained independence and the multi-centered, global corporate system of public space-making that emerged from 1990-2008. It also tracks the appearance of a specifically Asian rural-urban space-making system of urban villages that has emerged as a long cultural continuity in and around Asian cities.

Four models of urban space are examined: Metropolis, Megalopolis, Fragmented Metropolis, and Megacity/Metacity. All are simultaneously present in the Asian city, forming parallel timelines weaving around each other. After the 2008 crash there is reason to pause and re-evaluate this highly successful, emerging Asian urban system and its public spaces, especially in view of the likely implications of energy supplies and climate change on key Asian cities located in coastal and river valley situations.

Author Biography

David Grahame Shane

Urban design historian David Grahame Shane teaches Graduate Urban Design at Columbia University and undergraduate students at Cooper Union in New York. He also lectures for the Bartlett School of Architecture’s Graduate Urban Design Programme, University of London and at the Polytechnic in Milan, as well as participating in master classes at the University of Venice. He has lectured widely and published in architecture journals in Europe, the USA and Asia. He co-edited with Brian McGrath the Architectural Design publication ‘Sensing the 21st Century City: Close-Up and Remote’ (November 2005). He is the author of Recombinant Urbanism: Conceptual Modeling in Architecture, Urban Design and City Theory (2005) and Urban Design Since 1945: A Global Perspective (2011).