For the last few decades, China has been in the midst of a building boom. Since the socio-political changes brought about by Chinese economic reforms since 1978, urbanization and, hence, architecture have accelerated. The country’s rapid growth has been accompanied by unprecedented change in the built landscape. At the same time, the possibility of building at unprecedented scales has been accompanied by a freedom to experience with architectural forms.
In 1995, twenty years after the formal end of the war, the United States and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam established diplomatic relations. The early 1990s marked a pivotal period for the country’s economy and politics, as well as on the diplomatic front, the improvement in relations among major powers: the normalization of relations with China came in 1991, and the accession to the ASEAN in the same year of the establishment of diplomatic ties with the USA. These political milestones brought forth changes in the economy for they also activated access for entrepreneurs, tourists, journalists and diplomats alike coming to Vietnam for various different purposes.
Two men stand in front of a vegetable and fruit stall, completely absorbed by their own private conversation. Behind them, two other, younger men intimately shake hands on leaving the “Cafés Salonu” while a boy next to them is trying to wipe the water and trash from the sidewalk. The whole setting appears cinematic, the characters shimmering in the moody atmosphere engendered by the beam of the street light.
For my generation, born after the “Renovation” reform of Đổi Mới in 1986, “The War”—as most Vietnamese call what almost everyone else calls the Vietnam War—only exists in history books.
The amount of ink spilled on the 12th-century temple complex Angkor Wat might not fill Tonlé Sap Lake, but it sometimes feels like it might. This Khmer Empire monument dedicated to Vishnu is a UNESCO world cultural site, a global must-see on tourists’ bucket lists—and is the only archaeological monument featured on a national flag. Yet Michael Falser still finds a lot to say.