Deakin University
beynon-traditionaspast-2003.pdf (457.67 kB)

Tradition as past is a modernist idea

Download (457.67 kB)
conference contribution
posted on 2003-01-01, 00:00 authored by D Beynon
As outlined in the theme of this conference, the problematisation of the notion of 'progress' relates to a questioning of the West's teleological aspirations for the future. This critique has allowed for the presence of a multiplicity of ways of perceiving the world, including those from outside the West's intellectual tradition. However, within architectural discourse, conceptual plurality has been largely limited to movements such as critical regionalism or postmodernism, which have tended to question the direction or desirability of progress, rather than its fundamental nature.

This paper looks at an example of recent architecture by an Asian diasporic community in Melbourne. This is a building that appears to be 'traditional' in style, in other words atavistic and antithetical to 'progressive' architectural ideals. However, looking at it through different philosophical understandings of duration can provide us with alternative interpretations to these assumptions.

By this I am not referring to disillusionment with progress, as expressed through postmodernist and neo-traditionalist movements in the West, but ways in which looking at the 'traditional' architectures of non-Western cultures from their own philosophical positions might provide alternative definitions pf the idea of 'progress'. The increasing presence of non-western 'traditional' architecture in the West implies that West modernity might not be the only 'tradition' that has a viable future. Consequently, the idea of 'the future' as something to aspire to, might be the outcome of a particular dominant historicity rather than a universal condition.


Title of proceedings

20th annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand.


Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand. Conference (20th : 2003 : Sydney, N.S.W.)


27 - 31


Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand


Sydney, Australia

Place of publication

Sydney, N.S.W.

Start date


End date









Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact

Publication classification

E1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2003, Society of Architectural Historians Australia & New Zealand


M Gusheh, N Stead

Usage metrics

    Research Publications


    No categories selected