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Mechademia 7Lines of Sight$
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Frenchy Lunning

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816680498

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816680498.001.0001

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From Techno-cute to Superflat: Robots and Asian Architectural Futures

From Techno-cute to Superflat: Robots and Asian Architectural Futures

(p.129) From Techno-cute to Superflat: Robots and Asian Architectural Futures
Mechademia 7

David Beynon

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter considers the former Bank of Asia building (now United Overseas Bank) in Bangkok by Thai architect Sumet Jumsai. The twenty-story building looms as a stack of giant cubic forms but on closer inspection, it becomes clear that this stack of cubes is actually a giant robot. By anthropomorphizing the robot, the Bank of Asia blends humanity and technology in a manner similar to the Japanese toy robots from which its imagery is derived. Since its completion in 1986, three characteristics of the building—its machine/animist identity, its portrayal of this identity as endearing, and its reference to a specifically Japanese popular culture—have all become more globalized phenomena. The interconnections between these three characteristics are examined. The chapter asks whether the robot is a symbol of Japanese influence or an expression of a more diffused “Asian” modernity.

Keywords:   robot anthropomorphism, Asian architecture, Bangkok, Bank of Asia, Sumet Jumsai

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