Tropical Architecture: Current Research

A Manual of Modernist Regionalism for Tropical Africa: The cultural environment shaped by Maxwell Fry & Jane Drew.

Edwin Maxwell Fry and his wife Jane Drew, with their West African designs in the 1940s, established a design system that had modernist theories as a starting point and developed ideas of climate responsiveness, development planning and adaptation to the new post-colonial social conditions. This system was promoted in the 1950s within the techno-scientific network of the new British Commonwealth, under the name of Tropical Architecture through publications, conferences and the institution of courses of studies in London and Kumasi.

Jacopo Galli’s PhD research will analyse Tropical Architecture from the factors that influenced its conception: the British medical-engineering tradition, the exportation of modernism and the highly experimental environment. Jacopo intends to analyse the numerous educational institutions built in West Africa by Fry & Drew and several other designers, for instance James Cubbitt & Partners, Godwin & Hopwood and the Architect’s Co-Partnership. These buildings were conceived as experiments to verify the functioning of climate devices and urban solutions. Finally, he will verify how this empire of good practice reached its highest point in the publication of Tropical Architecture in the Dry and Humid Zones in 1956: the textbook approach of the manual seen as the conclusion of the entire experience and its consequences in the history of bioclimatic architecture and planning for development.

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