Sie sind hier: FRIAS Fellows Fellows Dr. Lawrence Chua

Dr. Lawrence Chua

Syracuse University
Junior Fellow
Marie S. Curie FCFP Fellow
Januar - August 2018


Lawrence Chua is a historian of the global modern built environment with an emphasis on Asian architecture and urban culture. His current research investigates the sometimes-competing and sometimes-complementary images of utopia that developed in the Thai capital, Bangkok from 1910 until 1973. Expressed in built forms as well as architectural drawings, building manuals, novels, poetry, and ecclesiastical murals, these images of an ideal society attempted to reconcile urban-based understandings of Buddhist felicities such as NibbanaUttarakuru, and Phra Sri Ari with worldly models of political community. Chua's second research project excavates the historical relationship between modernism and fascism in the architecture of Thailand, a nation that was never colonized by an imperial power and which aligned itself politically and culturally with the Axis during World War II. Currently an assistant professor in the School of Architecture at Syracuse University, Chua has also taught at Hamilton College, New York University, and Chulalongkorn University. He received his Ph.D. in the history of architecture and urban development at Cornell University in 2012. He was awarded an International Dissertation Research Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council and was a Mellon Graduate Fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University. More recently, he was a research fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies in Leiden. In addition to his scholarship, Chua’s collaborations with visual artists such as Julie Mehretu, Paul Pfeiffer and Akram Zataari have resulted in public murals, digital sculptures and videos that have been widely exhibited.

Publikationen (Auswahl)

  • “The city and the city: race, nationalism, and architecture in early 20th-century Bangkok,” Journal of Urban History, 2014 (40) 5, pp. 933-958.
  • “The Aesthetic Citizen: modernism and fascism in mid-20th-century Bangkok,” Chapter in Questioning Southeast Asia’s Architecture: Epistemology, Networks and Power (Singapore: NUS Press, 2018).
  • "The Garden of Liberation: emptiness and engagement at Suan Mokkh, Chaiya, Thailand,” Chapter in Handbook of Socially Engaged Architecture (London and New York: Routledge, 2017).
  • “Contemporary Buddhist Architecture: From Reliquary to Theme Park,” Chapter in Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism (Oxford: OUP, 2016), 436-452.
  • “Life in Marvelous Times: architecture, hip hop, and utopia,” Chapter in Archi*pop anthology (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), pp. 193-206.


Bangkok Utopia: leisure architecture, urban culture, and public space in 20th century Thailand

This study investigates the sometimes-competing and sometimes-complementary visions of utopia that developed in the modern leisure spaces of the Thai capital, Bangkok from 1910 until 1973. Expressed in both built forms as well as architectural drawings, manuals, novels, poetry, and images, these images of an ideal society attempted to reconcile older, urban-based understandings of nibbana and paradise with worldly models of political community. By examining the ways that new leisure spaces of the city became arenas for modern subject-formation, utopian desire, political hegemony, and social unrest, Bangkok Utopia outlines a theory of competing ideals in urban space and provides a new way to conceptualize the uneven economic development and fractured political conditions of contemporary global cities like Bangkok.