Program: Cornell University, College of Architecture, Art and Planning, Summer Traveling Program, 2011
Program Directors: Yehre Suh, Leonard Mirin
Sites: Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Gyeongju, Seoul



With the chaotic pace of development and expansion of global metropolises, traditional fabric of cities have become hybridized with the new to form mutant and hybrid species of the urban terrain. The new metropolitan city is a site of natural selection between the new, the old, the new old, and the old new through processes of transition, negotiation, mitigation, preservation, erasure and reconstruction. And within the political, economic, social dynamic of urban environments fueled by forces of globalization, discussions of preservation and cultural identity can only progress under the rubric of nationalism, tourism and marketability.

In many Asian countries, nationalism is an essential mechanism of urban development and growth. And in an expanding world of globalization, state nationalism and cultural nationalism forms a distinct strategy of construction, demolition and preservation. Mark Jarzombek identifies two types of nationalism. State nationalism, which “embraces a platform of modernization and urbanization,” and cultural nationalism, which “champions ethnic lineages and historical hierarchies, and views capitalism with suspicion. Where the two forms of nationalism often merge… is in the realm of architectural preservation. Cultural nationalists emphasis tradition, state nationalists emphasize tourism.” And along the lines of nationalism, tourism and marketability, architectural preservation has become a new strategy of urban development. Under the name of preservation, new structures are being built, old structures are being demolished and old structures are remade new and new structures are made to look old. Preservation has become the new strategy of survival where new urban species are constantly generating and perishing in the urban terrain.

As biologists who embark on travels to far distant lands to discover new and hybrid species of the ecological system, we too embark on this trip to map out the hybrid species of the urban ecological system into a Manual of Mutants, Hybrids, Endangered, Super Species (MMHESS). In the turmoil of the urban survival of the fittest, strategies of negotiation ranges in the realms of Territory, Program, Visual, Tectonic, Symbolism, Typology, Objectification and Supplements. We hope to investigate the morphology of natural selection of urban territories to map methodologies of survival between the old, the new, the old new and the new old.

The metropolises of Japan, Korea and China is a unique habitat where a homogenous habitat based on close similitude of religious, philosophical, social, cultural philosophy and life style were subject to an extreme transformative processes of modernization and globalization. The old and new capitals of the three asian countries, Kyoto and Tokyo, Gyeongju and Seoul, Xi’an and Beijing, as habitats of the Super Species, become the site of observation to investigate and document the conflicts and negotiations between the traditional fabric of the city and the new urban transformations of globalization and its agencies.




Project Team

Program Investigators: Germain Chan, Alex Chuan Hao Chen, Stephanie Young Choe, Ujijji Dasisi Davis, Juan David Grisales, Alice Chin-Shuian Huang, Calvin W. Liu, Jeffrey Chengduan Lu, Matthew Allen Sweets, Sean S. Wen

Collaborators: Liu Jian, Assistant Dean, Associate Professor of Urban Planning & Design Tsinghua University, School of Architecture / Dong Yao, Lecturer, Tongji University, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Architecture Department / Jorge Almazan, Assistant Professor, Keio University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of System Design Engineering / Sanki Choe, Assistant Professor, University of Seoul, Department of Architecture

Production Assistant: Andrew Kim