Asia has always been a foundational hub for civilization, fostering a variety of cultures, traditions, and architectural designs. Asian architecture, ranging from the grandeur of the Forbidden City in China to the intricate temples in India, represents centuries of skill, religion, and cultural significance. Despite the challenges posed by modernization and globalisation, traditional Asian architecture has faced hurdles in terms of preservation and relevance. Nonetheless, there has been a remarkable surge in interest to revive and protect the fundamental aspects of Asian architecture in recent years. This article explores the factors driving this resurgence and highlights its significance in today’s society.

Asian Architecture: An Introduction.

Explore the expansive world of Asian architecture by comprehending the varied elements that shape it. From the soaring pagodas in China to the grandiose palaces in India, and from the tranquil temples in Japan to the intricate mosques in the Middle East, every architectural style showcases a distinctive fusion of cultural and historical impacts. It demonstrates a comprehensive perspective that embraces the unity of everything.

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Forbidden City, China _©adobe stock
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Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abudabi _©Richard Sharrocks

The continent of Asia includes numerous nations and a diverse range of ethnicities with unique cultural backgrounds and pasts. Some of the most ancient and advanced civilizations in the world; these early societies constructed impressive architectural marvels that date back to 5,000 BCE. The majority of Asian architecture was impacted by ancient religions, particularly showing influences from Hinduism and Buddhism.

Temple Architecture: Sanctuaries of Time

The architecture of temples is most noticeable in the southeastern region of Asia. The majority of the grand temples in Southeast Asia were constructed by the 13th century. Around 770, the Javanese people started creating a collection of impressive stone monuments, with the Borobudur being the most significant Mahayana Buddhist structure. Around 800, the Cambodian ruler Jayavarman II constructed a man-made mountain out of bricks to serve as a temple complex. This strategy was advanced with the establishment of the infrastructure for Angkor, a project centred on a network of ponds and waterways.Later rulers built more temple mountains in the region, with Angkor Wat standing out as the most magnificent. Meanwhile, Pagan in Myanmar boasts a plethora of brick and stucco Buddhist temples and Stupas erected from 1056 to 1287, solidifying its reputation as one of the most remarkable destinations in Southeast Asia.

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Despite this, temple architecture in India stands out among other South Asian countries in terms of importance and renown. The intricate designs and symbolic elements in Hindu temples act as a bridge between people and the divine, assisting in their spiritual journey and quest for enlightenment, ultimately guiding them towards moksha or liberation. The Shilpa Shastras and Vastu Sastras provide the architectural framework for Hindu temples in India. Within Hindu culture, temple constructors are urged to embrace artistic liberty, enabling architects to integrate various geometries and mathematical concepts in Mandir construction to symbolise the essence of Hinduism.

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Brihadeeswara Temple,Thanjavur _©Sagittarius Pro

Temple architecture reflects a synthesis of arts, the ideals of dharma, values, and the way of life cherished under Hinduism. All the cosmic elements that create and celebrate life in the Hindu pantheon are present in a temple.

Conserving heritage, embracing culture.

The revival of Asian architecture can be attributed to a strong urge to safeguard cultural identity in a world that is becoming more and more uniform. With a diverse range of architectural styles, Asia showcases the distinct heritage, beliefs, and customs of its people. Societies throughout Asia are looking to reclaim their cultural identity and assert their uniqueness on a global level by resurrecting traditional architectural methods and styles. Furthermore, preserving historic structures serves as a tangible link to the past, fostering a sense of continuity and belonging among present and future populations.

Asian architectural design is currently undergoing a notable revival that goes beyond simple nostalgia. It involves a fascinating combination of traditional and contemporary elements, as architects and urban planners adeptly merge traditional design concepts and materials with fresh, innovative ideas. The result? The integration of sustainable and innovative architecture in buildings addresses the needs of contemporary society. This seamless fusion of traditional and modern elements exemplifies a captivating connection, where the past shapes the present and the present enriches the past.

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Shanghai Pavilion Expo. China taking the Dougong as a translating element. _©Getty Images.
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The DouGong System_© Luca Zanotti Fragonara

The resurgence of Asian architecture is being driven by a renewed emphasis on talented builders, craftsmen, and artists, signifying a renaissance of skill and innovation. Time-honoured construction techniques such as timber framing, mud brick construction, and detailed wood carving are undergoing a remarkable revival. This resurgence is being fueled by apprenticeships, vocational training programs, and cultural initiatives. By embracing these age-old methods, not only are we preserving the invaluable skills of the past, but we are also nurturing a profound sense of pride and cultural identity within our communities. This ensures that the magnificent heritage of Asian architecture will endure, serving as a timeless inspiration for future generations of architects and builders.

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Asian vernacular techniques implemented in modern buildings. _©Ar.Raj Rewal Associate.

Asian cities are incorporating their architectural heritage into future development projects for inspiration. Asian architecture is recognized for its incorporation of the natural environment and use of sustainable construction methods. As the world grapples with the effects of climate change and rapid urbanisation, there is a growing emphasis on integrating traditional ecological wisdom into architectural design.

The revival of Asian architectural styles symbolises the rebirth of cultural heritage, a fusion of age-old customs with fresh concepts, and a dedication to eco-friendliness and expert artistry. Asian societies are creating a new architectural identity that is both rooted in tradition and responsive to the challenges of the 21st century by reclaiming the past and reimagining the future. While the world navigates the complexities of globalisation and urbanisation, the revival of Asian architecture serves as a beacon of inspiration, prompting us to remember the timeless wisdom embedded in our architectural heritage.

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Tillotson, G. (2008) The temple architecture of India. by Adam Hardy. pp. 256. Chichester, Wiley, 2007.: Journal of the royal asiatic society, Cambridge Core. Available at: (Accessed: 12 May 2024). 

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A sedulous Architect with a passion for Art, literature and creativity. She believes that words can make a great impact on the mind but even greater impact on your perspective. As a journalism enthusiast, she strives to share her perspective on architecture as a piece of art with the world.