From Palace to Parliament: How Japan and China moved from Imperial Rule to Representation Rule through the lens of their Parliament Buildings | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


This paper aims to stimulate discussion on the political architecture of centres of power in East Asia by focusing on the historical transformations of political structures and their architectural edifices in Japan and China. Parliaments as institutions materialise by strenuous, and sometimes sudden, degrees, during moments of critical juncture. The struggle for absolute power to succumb to shared power is extrapolated through the building designs. I describe how the coincidence of Prussian history and German architects intertwined with the intricacies of constructing new political institutions and their parliamentary architecture. How the architecture of the ruling dynasties was overlooked. How the initial grand designs were never completed, and provisional buildings improvised. And how, eventually, an alternative, but no less, grade design was accomplished. This is a step towards my wider research on parliament buildings in East and Southeast Asia and framed within a transnational history of architecture of political representation. Employing the physical buildings of the governmental structure of Tokyo and Beijing as a lens, I seek to frame a greater understanding of the journey taken from ruling court to peoples’ legislature, from the internal, hierarchical, often obscure, governing entity to an elected, meritocratic, theoretically open, governing body. The appropriation of political institutions and architecture, and the machinations of erecting suitable edifices, emerges in this tale of palace to parliament.


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