By examining urban structures across Asia and the Middle East, eco-architect professor Jason Pomeroy, tells of these civilisations’ past, present and future in Channel NewsAsia’s City Time Traveller.
Here, the professor shares with us his cities of choice for a
Professor Jason Pomeroy, host of City Time Traveller and founding principal of Singapore-based urbanism, architecture, design and research firm, Pomeroy Studio
London. This is where I was born, raised and previously worked. It’s the perfect blend of ancient, historic architecture and contemporary architecture. I love the Roman ruins in the old city; Christopher Wren’s Baroque masterpiece – St Pauls Cathedral; and modern interventions, such as Renzo Piano’s tallest mixed use building in Europe – the Shard. The street and market culture is also captivating, and the structures that retain them, such as Borough Market. As the poet Ben Jonson said, “If you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life”.
Venice. Its one of the places where I lecture every summer in an urban design workshop at the University of Venice. Every little alleyway and canal explored reveals something more about this historic city that was an epicentre for trade, commerce and culture for centuries under the Ducal rulers of this magnificent city. Arabian, Asian and European traders of the past have been replaced by tourists today, but the vestiges of its former glory are preserved as an urban museum of nostalgia which I constantly enjoy wandering around.
Udaipur. If England had the Tudors, Persia the Safavids, and Turkey the Ottomans, then the part of Western India that was formerly known as the Mewar kingdom had the powerful Sisodia dynasty. These rulers of the Mewar kingdom made Udaipur its capital from 1553. Udaipur has been called the city of lakes, as well as the Venice of the East, and is characterized by the myriad of waterways that provided an opportunity for the majestic Maharanas to site their marble palaces.
Tokyo. Buildings like Nakagin Capsule Tower by Kisho Kurakawa came to represent a brave new world of futuristic architecture that could expand and contract organically to the pressures of urbanization and population increase. On the surface Tokyo appears to shrug off the past like no other city, but still embraces principles that have roots in antiquity – the importance of proportion and modularity, and adaptability to change. For me, futurism is a relative term – what may be futuristic today may not be futuristic tomorrow.
Istanbul. One of my first teaching assignments was at Mimar Sinan University in this ancient city, and has left its mark ever since. It is a truly magical place, and whilst the cliché’s of east meeting west is in abundance, this city truly embraces such ideals. Must see’s include the Hagia Sophia, The Blue mosque, Rustem Pasha and the Grand Bazaar. For a glimpse of how people once travelled in style, stay at the Pera Pallas hotel – a frequent haunt of notable writers including Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie.
In the second instalment of City Time Traveller, Professor Pomeroy travels from East to West Asia, exploring such cities as Manila, Kolkata and Doha, and how people and their individual cultures have shaped their cities.
Find the full story in the January 2016 issue of August Man Malaysia.
Professor Pomeroy exploring the Walled City of Intramuros, the oldest district and historic site of Manila, Philippines.