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We are delighted to offer researchers at select partner universities an opportunity to apply for one of University in Liverpool’s Virtual Fellowships.

The Fellowships are open to researchers working in the field of heritage and are open to early career as well as established researchers.

The Fellowships provide an opportunity for selected candidates to gain collaborative research experience in an international research environment with the aim of publishing or co-publishing a specific piece of research in an international journal or equivalent venue and fostering long-term collaboration.

The Fellowships are fully online and travel to the UK is not required.

Successful candidates will have the opportunity to collaborate virtually with a research group or designated individuals at the University of Liverpool.

The Fellowship will offer:

  • one to one research mentoring, including support in analytical and interpretive methods in heritage research: this will be delivered at a distance through zoom or similar platforms
  • relief from teaching and other duties to pursue the completion and write-up of a piece of research for publication
  • access to online research resources and training including GIS training; Photogrammetry; AutoCAD and visualisation (3D Max); 3D scanning; Fieldwork/ documentation methods support and guidance with academic writing in English
  • opportunities for research collaboration through “virtual” participation in relevant research group activities in Liverpool.

Full details on how to apply here: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/humanities-and-social-sciences/research/training-and-support/virtual-fellowships/

Lakshminarasappa, Koenigsberger, Jaisim and Udaya: Architects of Bangalore

Rachel Lee.

For several years I have been visiting Bangalore, South India, on a regular basis. Originally my only goal was to research Otto Koenigsberger’s work in the city for my doctoral thesis, but recently my interests have widened to include other figures involved in the building of Bangalore’s past and present. Among these is Srinivasarao Harti Lakshminarasappa (circa 1885 – ?), Government Architect of Mysore State from 1935-1940, and an early twentieth century graduate of the University of Liverpool who was the subject of a previous TAG post by Iain Jackson.

Lakshmi and Tulsi

Caption: Lakshminarasappa and his wife Tulsi, date unknown. Photograph provided by Krishnarao Jaisim

Lakshminarasappa was close to retirement when Otto Koenigsberger arrived in Mysore State in April 1939. And, although he was initially given a probationary one-year contract, Diwan Mirza Ismail, the then first minister of Mysore State, had actually engaged Koenigsberger as Lakshminarasappa’s potential future replacement. The transitional period, during which both architects worked at the Mysore PWD, was strained. It appears that Lakshminarasappa did his utmost to prevent Koenigsberger from taking over his job, which he would rather have handed over to an Indian architect – “nationalism like everywhere”, wrote Koenigsberger, a victim of anti-Semitic German nationalism, in frustration.[1]

In fact, Lakshminarasappa was so opposed to Koenigsberger becoming his successor that he instigated a campaign of bullying and dirty tricks against him. This included burdening Koenigsberger with a massive workload, withdrawing all his draughtsmen and assistants, and rumour mongering. The campaign was to no avail, however, as Koenigsberger was instated as Government Architect of Mysore State after Lakshminarasappa’s retirement. The following excerpt from a letter to his mother in October 1939, makes Koenigsberger’s relief at Lakshminarasappa’s departure palpable:

The old Architect who used to cause so much annoyance to me and compelled me to work so hard in the last two months before my internment[2] –he is gone for good. […] I have reached the position for which I fought all these six months.[3]

Aside from his conflict with Koenigsberger, until recently I did not know a great deal else about Lakshminarasappa. However, on my last trip to Bangalore I was delighted to meet Lakshminarasappa’s grandson, Krishnarao Jaisim. Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Jaisim also became an architect and has received many awards throughout his long and distinguished career. He is the founder and director of Jaisim-Fountainhead, an architectural practice in Bangalore that lists its main influences as Buckminster Fuller, Otto Koenigsberger, Geoffrey Bawa and Ayn Rand. Indeed, every intern is given a copy of The Fountainhead on their first day at the office.

Jaisim

Caption: Jaisim at his desk in his Bangalore office.

According to Jaisim, Koenigsberger was not the only person to be unsettled by Lakshminarasappa. He was an intimidating figure, at least 6’4’’ tall and as strict and conservative in his personal life as he was professionally. Jaisim also informed me that Mysore PWD selected his grandfather to study architecture abroad because of his talent at drawing. Jaisim clearly inherited this skill, as this quick sketch of his grandfather made for me in lieu of a photograph shows.

Lakshmi by Jaisim

Caption: Lakshminarasappa as sketched by Jaisim, 2014

During the ocean crossing, and perhaps his stay in Liverpool too, Lakshminarasappa spent a lot of time performing pujas. He clearly did not feel comfortable away from home and was very glad to return to Mysore State after graduation in 1920, where he began working as an architect at the PWD. His architecture is characterised by precise classical detailing, as evidenced by the Puttanna Chetty Town Hall, built in 1935. Its austere classicism contrasts somewhat with the more relaxed eclecticism of the Greater Bangalore Municipal Corporation (BBMP) building, constructed from 1933-36.

 

Town Hall

Caption: Puttanna Chetty Town Hall, 2014

 

BBMP

Caption: Greater Bangalore Municipal Corporation, 2011
Photograph by Hari Prasad Nadig, available at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/hpnadig/5341902040/

Jaisim put me in touch with K. Udaya, current Government Architect of Karnataka, or Principal Chief Architect as the position is now called. In his office is a commemorative plaque listing in Kannada all the Government Architects of Mysore State, and later Karnataka State.

 

Plaque

Caption: The commemorative plaque in K. Udaya’s office listing the following architects: 1. Krumbigal [Krumbiegel], 2. Lakshminarasappa, 3. Kunis Burger [Koenigsberger], 4. Subba Rao, 5. B.R. Manickam, 6. V. Hanumantha Rao Naidu, 7. Chief engineer’s realm, 8. T.J. Das, 9. M. Venkataswamy, 10. Prof. Kiran Shankar, 11. K. Udaya, 12. K. Udaya.

Not only did Udaya generously spend time talking to me, he also invited me to give a lecture on Otto Koenigsberger’s work in Bangalore for his staff at the PWD, bringing the story full circle.

 

UdayaPWD

Caption: Rachel Lee with Principal Chief Architect K. Udaya and his team at the PWD Bangalore, 2014

[1] Koenigsberger Papers/Jewish Museum Berlin: letter from Otto Koenigsberger to Susanna Koenigsberger dated 12 August 1939. Translation from original German: You know that I have had great difficulties here during the last weeks and have had to and still have to fight with all my strength for my position. They want to prevent me from becoming permanently employed, and would rather put an Indian in my place (nationalism like everywhere) and have put a refined system of intrigues into action, which I, simpleton, only realised much too late. One of the tricks was to withdraw all the draughtsmen from me, so that I had to do all the work myself and thereby lost an immense amount of time. In order to not fall behind, everything else, even the letters to Mum and you, had to be left aside. The battle continues, but at least I now know what’s going on and can defend myself.

[2] As a German citizen and “enemy alien”, Koenigsberger was interned for 6 weeks after the outbreak of WWII

[3] Koenigsberger Papers/Jewish Museum Berlin: letter from Otto Koenigsberger to Käthe Koenigsberger dated 27 October 1939.

Herbert Rowse Research Project, funded by the RIBA.

Iain Jackson and Peter Richmond have been awarded a research grant from the RIBA to investigate the work of Herbert James Rowse (1887–1963). He was without doubt one of the most outstanding architects of his generation and through his work on a number of high-profile commissions he shaped the inter-war cityscape of Liverpool in a way that no other architect has done since. Whilst the trajectory of the evolution of his stylistic preferences can be clearly traced in the work he undertook in Liverpool, his output was not confined to the city and in the course of his career, he worked on major projects in Britain, Europe, Asia and North America. After local pupillage, in 1905 Rowse entered the school of architecture at Liverpool University, where Charles Reilly had just been appointed Roscoe professor.

DSCF0539

Mersey Tunnel Ventilation Shaft, Liverpool, 1931-

Gaining a first-class certificate in 1907, Rowse was also the joint winner of the Holt travelling scholarship, which took him to Italy and started a lifelong interest in Italian Romanesque and Renaissance architecture. A set of measured drawings arising out of his Italian studies won him an honourable mention in the silver medal competition of the RIBA in 1910. In the same year he became an associate of the RIBA whilst employed as an assistant to Frank Simon, who in 1912 had won the competition for the Manitoba parliament building. Rowse worked in Simon’s Winnipeg office in 1913. He also travelled extensively throughout North America and worked briefly in Chicago and New York. On his returned to Liverpool, Rowse opened his own practice in 1914 and during the First World War he worked for the Admiralty designing ‘purely functional buildings’.

DSCF0534

Woodside Tower for Mersey Tunnel, Birkenhead, 1931-

Following the War, he re-launched his practice with a commission for the Fairrie sugar refinery in Liverpool. Rowse’s competition-winning design for the Liverpool shipping office (the India Buildings) in 1924 was the first among a series of large-scale commercial commissions in the city, often carried out in partnership with other individuals or firms; these included Martins Bank (1927–32), Lloyds Bank (1928–32), and the Bibby Shipping Line offices (1930). The Lloyds Bank branch in Church Street was in Italian Romanesque, while for bigger buildings Rowse used a rich, eclectic classicism, often with a distinct American Beaux-Arts flavour – a style that was simultaneously being promoted by Reilly at the Liverpool School. In 1931 he was appointed consultant to the Mersey tunnel authority, and designed the tunnel approaches, arched entrances, and ventilation towers. The largest tower housed the tunnel authority offices, and was a distinguished addition to the group of tall buildings at Liverpool’s pierhead; whilst the Woodside tower on the Cheshire side of the Mersey won Rowse the 1937 RIBA bronze medal. His tunnel authority schemes featured low-relief sculpture and art deco work, leaning towards the stripped classical style favoured by both European totalitarian regimes and American New Deal designers. At this time Rowse was working closely with Tyson Smith, Liverpool’s leading modern sculptor.

The Philharmonic Concert Hall (1936–9), with its simplified brick massing and its restrained decoration, was much closer to mainstream European modernism, and is apparently inspired by W. M. Dudok. It was this approach which informed his designs for the British pavilion at the Empire Exhibition, Glasgow (1938), the Pharmaceutical Society headquarters in Brunswick Square, London (1937), and the Pilkington Glass Company offices in St Helens, Lancashire (1938–9) all of which displayed similar Dudokian influences combined with American Streamline Moderne styling. War again frustrated Rowse’s professional career just when he was beginning to win substantial commissions outside Liverpool. In 1947 he completed the Pharmaceutical Society building (now London University’s pharmacy school) and secured the Woodchurch cottage housing scheme, in Wirral, upstaging his mentor Charles Reilly with a scheme ‘traditionally English in character … modified to suit contemporary limitations and resources’. Woodchurch was one of the biggest regional projects in the era of post-war austerity, and won Rowse a bronze medal for housing from the Ministry of Health. However, the architect resigned before completion, following a dispute with the client. Rowse designed diplomatic buildings at Delhi and Karachi in 1951. He also advised the Belgians on post-war reconstruction, and was awarded the Order of Leopold II in 1950. However, he took no further recorded part in British practice until he won the competition for the renovation of the ‘Rows’ in Chester (with Thomas Harker) just before his death in 1963.

http://www.architecture.com/RIBA/Becomeanarchitect/Fundingyoureducation/Researchfunding/ResearchTrustAwards/2014Recipients/IainJacksonandPeterRichmond.aspx

Liverpool India Fellowships

Life changing, world shaping

The University of Liverpool has recently launched a search for up to 10 outstanding early career and established researchers from India to spend 3 – 6 months at the University of Liverpool.  The fellowships offer funding for living costs plus a travel grant.  Applications will be welcomed across all three Faculties; referencing one of the seven research themes (http://www.liv.ac.uk/research/research-themes/) may assist you.

Full details of the programme can be found at: www.liverpool.ac.uk/research/liverpool-india-fellowships/, closing date for applications is 6th December 2013.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 18

Ola Uduku, ‘Rediscovering Fry and Drew’s “Tropical Design” within the contemporary Frame’

How does today’s writing on climate and ‘adaptive’ comfort differ significantly from these earlier literary endeavours after more than half a century after Fry and Drew’s books and other writing on tropical building design?  Furthermore are we able to compare or undertake a critical analysis of today’s building guidance and codes as relates to climate and programme, within our current sustainable low-carbon design context? The premise that this paper proposal seeks to investigate is whether there has been real change in conception or thought about the word ‘tropical’ design, in intellectual or practical design terms, or there has simply been a reinvention of the names, tools and narratives in which this semantic theme is engaged with in the 21st century.

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Ola Uduku is a faculty member at the Architecture School, at Edinburgh University, and has research interests in Environmental Design as well as Modernist Architectural History in Africa. She is a director and foundation member of the organisation ArchiAfrika, which actively seeks to spread knowledge about African architecture within and outside Africa. Ola is co-researcher on the Alan Vaughan-Richards Archive Project.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 16

Alan Powers, ‘Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew – the Romantic turn’

The paper will start from Fry’s ‘A Letter about Architecture’ in Horizon magazine, May 1946, in which Fry addressed Drew as well as a wider non-specialist  readership. It represents a transitional period in Fry’s career that began before the war with some lesser known buildings such as the brick built house Warham’s Ash, Hereford, and the Cecil Residential Club in North Gower Street. These were more varied in materials and form than the Modernist buildings through which he first acquired fame in the years 1933-36, and anticipate, along with Goldfinger’s Willow Road houses and some other examples, the next ten or fifteen years of stylistic development in English and European Modernism. There is no accepted term for describing this romantic turn in Modernism, at least until the 1947 coinage ‘New Empiricism’. The style remained current in much of Fry and his practice’s work well into the 1950s.

In the Horizon text, and in Fine Building, 1944, Fry reveals the thinking that moved him and other members of his generation to move on to a second version of Modernism that was deliberately anti-machine and reflected the writings of D. H. Lawrence and Lewis Mumford to which he referred. In the paper, these written sources will be related to Fry’s work and that of his contemporaries in Britain, Sweden and the USA to fill out a more complete account of this change of direction.

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Dr Alan Powers, FSA, Hon. FRIBA, has written widely on twentieth century British architecture, art and design and curated a number of exhibitions. He was Professor of Architecture and Cultural History at the University of Greenwich before becoming an independent scholar with a range of teaching activities. He has had a long association with the Twentieth Century Society, becoming Chairman 2007–12. He was founder editor of its journal Twentieth Century Architecture and with Elain Harwood and Barnabas Calder is a joint editor of the monograph series, jointly with English Heritage and RIBA, Twentieth Century Architects. His books include Britain, in the series Modern Architectures in History and Serge Chermayeff, designer, architect, teacher. Eric Ravilious, artist and designer will be published by Lund Humphries in October 2013. In 2011–12, Alan Powers was awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship on the theme, Figurative Architecture in the Time of Modernism.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 15

Vanessa Vanden Berghe, ‘Aspects of collaboration in the work of Oliver Hill and Maxwell Fry’

This paper seeks to explore through an examination of the work of two twentieth century architects Maxwell Fry and Oliver Hill how their work can shed new light on the existence of alternative forms of modernism.

At first sight, this unlikely comparison would suggest that Fry’s development follows the conventional path of architectural modernism whilst Hill’s work tends to be seen as deviating from such a modernist trajectory putting himself and his work at the margins of architectural history. However, on closer inspection we can see that both Fry and Hill offered ‘different’ architectural approaches that underline the existence of wider manifestations of modernism in England. Their collaboration on the Dorland Hall exhibition (1933) suggests that these differences in approach were underpinned by their shared commitment to bringing good design to a wider public. Other collaborations reinforced this sense of creative partnership between friends, partners and clients. This is evidenced in Fry and Gropius’s collaboration on Impington Village College (1939) and Hill’s Thatched House at Knowle (1925) in which regionalist influences in their oeuvre reveal how both architects early on in their careers sought to increasingly create buildings with a distinctive sense of place and identity.

Analysing various aspects of Hill’s and Fry’s collaborations and the influence that these projects have had subsequently on architectural production, I will argue that such a wider approach not only adds to our knowledge of alternative expressions of modernism but that it also increases our understanding of how these architects commonly sought to integrate modernism within the larger cultural and regional frameworks of interwar Britain.

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Vanessa Vanden Berghe has studied History of Art at the University of Ghent, Belgium. She completed an MA in the history and theory of architecture at the University of East London in 2001, where she also lectures and is currently in the final stages of her MPhil (also at UEL) researching the Enigma of British Modernism through the work of Oliver Hill. She most recently contributed a chapter entitled: ‘Oliver Hill: a window on Regionalism in Britain during the interwar period’ in Regionalism and modernity during the interwar period (edited by Leen Meganck, Linda Van Santvoort & Jan De Maeyer) published by KADOC-Artes.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 13

Jorge Figueira and Bruno Gil, ‘Dry and Humid and Everywhere: The work of Amâncio (Pancho) Guedes in Mozambique’

In the seminal Tropical Architecture in the dry and humid zones, published in 1964 by Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, the work of Amâncio Guedes (“Pancho” Guedes, Lisbon, 1925), in Mozambique, appears recurrently as an example of the themes aimed by the authors. The relationship between Pancho’s work and the concerns of Fry and Drew is umbilical, even if the Portuguese architect is more corrosive and incendiary than pedagogical.

Our presentation aims to contextualize and problematize the works of Pancho Guedes referenced by Fry and Drew, as part of his vast production between the early 1950’s and 1975, an itinerary that ends with the decolonization process of the “Portuguese Africa” ​​in 1974. Pancho’s work refers to the condition of Portugal as a colonial power blasted by a great artistic, experimental, “climatological” voracity, which Fry and Drew capture in Tropical Architecture…, demonstrating a particular geo-culture within the colonial process in Africa. Accordingly, we sustain that the general invocation of the post-colonialism – “can the subaltern speak?” – finds in Pancho Guedes a particular resonance. Pancho is a colonizer colonized by modern architecture, from which he is always in a desire/rejection process. All his work is envisioned, in the manner of Team 10 and beyond Team 10, and certainly under the influence of the theses by Fry and Drew, to mourn the more dogmatic aspects of modern architecture, showing affection towards the locality, using techniques and styles that aim to adapt or lacerate the modern canon towards the local. The archaic, primitive and vernacular recurrently appear in his work, more in the manner of an “automatic writing” than an analytical mode. The high point of this trip is the publication that he imagines of 1001 portas do caniço (doors from the slums of Lourenço Marques/Maputo), photographed relentlessly in very beautiful slides.

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Jorge Figueira graduated in Architecture at the University of Porto, 1992. PhD Degree at the University of Coimbra, 2009, with a thesis entitled The Perfect Periphery. Post-modernity in Portuguese Architecture, 1960-1980. Director and Assistant Professor at the University of Coimbra’s Department of Architecture. Researcher at the Social Studies Centre (University of Coimbra). Professor at the PhD Programme in the Faculty of Architecture of University of Porto. Coordinator at the University of Coimbra of the Red PHI Patrimonio Historico-Cultural Iberoamericano. Curator of international exhibitions such as “Álvaro Siza. Modern Redux”, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2008. Editor of Álvaro Siza. Modern Redux, Hatje Cantz (Berlin). Author of several books on contemporary architecture, including O Arquitecto Azul, Coimbra University Press, 2010. Has published texts in Arquitectura Viva, Casabella and A+U and has a column on architectural criticism in Público newspaper.

Bruno Gil graduated in Architecture at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, 2005. Following the graduation thesis entitled “Architecture School, Today” he continues research in that subject. Currently, he is developing his PhD at the Centre for Social Studies and at the Department of Architecture of the University of Coimbra, with a grant from the Foundation for Science and Technology, Portugal. His thesis focuses on issues related to the practice of architectural research, identifying disciplinary specificities, research cultures, topics and methods. He is a contributor at the University of Coimbra to the Red PHI Patrimonio Historico-Cultural Iberoamericano. He has participated in diverse international conferences and workshops, published texts in architecture magazines and was co-founder of the NU magazine and its director between 2003 and 2004.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 12

Claire Louise Staunton and James Price, ‘Subverting modernism through autonomous urbanism’

The film Corrections and Omissions (2013, James Price) presents two cases of anarchic urbanism in contemporary Chandigarh. The first concerns the domestic dwellings built for low and mid-rank government employees in Sector 22, designed by Jane Drew & Maxwell Fry. Residents have defied the Chandigarh edict on a small scale by adapting the buildings to their individual and family needs; by altering the room size, use and the building shape as well as permitting “homeless” low caste families to squat on their allocated land in exchange for services such as cleaning, guarding or ironing.

Secondly, the film introduces to the viewer the off-grid village of Burail. In a struggle to keep perfect order and perfect form within the 56 sectors that make up the city, the temporary slums which appear on the fringes of the grid are systematically flattened by the state. The exceptions to this are the villages that pre-date the arrival of Le Corbusier and his team, and still exist enclosed by the masterplan. Burail lies in the centre of sector 45. Its community has persistently defied all planning regulations, is built along an irregular, diagonal axis; its thoroughfares and alleyways missing from the official city map.

The paper unpacks and allies these two examples of anarchic architecture as a subaltern creation of complex spaces, which subvert the grid, and disrupt several current narratives that de-politicise or renew colonialism. Such urbanism operates within an alternative economy outside of the dominant forces of capital and development and is an inherently political act. The paper proposes that these practices expose the contradiction between the principles of indigenous architecture (Drew 1963, Drew & Fry 1964) which insisted upon learning from the vernacular thus adapting designs for the needs and habits of future Chandigarh residents and the modernist imperative to uphold the truth of materials, which guards pure design from “from whims of individuals” (Chandigarh Edict). Furthermore, this paper suggests that the increasing heritagisation of Drew & Fry’s buildings are antithetical to their ambitions for their architecture and renders the planned districts de-politicised.

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Claire Louise Staunton is the director/curator of Inheritance Projects and Flat Time House, London. Inheritance is a small group of independent curators and researchers (Laura Guy, Becky Ayre) that organises exhibitions, events, new commissions, publications and research projects. Initiated in 2007 as a vehicle to interrogate museological schemata, the narrations of history and personal and national heritage Inheritance has developed into wider territories of investigation. Inheritance works with artists, musicians and writers in collaboration with institutions to produce new knowledges and develop politically informed, critical discourses around particular topics or situations. The exchange between Inheritance curators with filmmakers, artists, writers, residents and historical artefacts offers a multiperspectival narration by a number of speakers from different places and times.

Inheritance leads a long-term investigation of the visual culture of intentionally planned urban areas (New Towns) and their migrant populations. This research project has involved a project space in Shenzhen which served to question heritage and art history in a new migrant city, an exhibition and ‘Research Lab’ unpacking the theoretical and practical applications of community at MK Gallery, Milton Keynes and more recently a performative presentation concerning the willing blindness of new developments, at Sarai, New Delhi. Other key project areas include the destabilisation of heritage through artists’ activities often redressing colonial, feminist and wider political histories in the contemporary. This has included a residency programme with the National Trust, a radio show and exhibitions in traditional museum spaces.

James Price is a documentary and experimental filmmaker who has been working with Inheritance Projects since 2010. Price’s films have been shown on the BBC, Channel 4, and More4, in art exhibitions and international film festivals. Television projects include the mini-series What is Freedom? (Channel 4, 2009) a critical investigation of liberty and freedom in USA, and A Piece of the Moon (Channel 4 / More 4, 2008) an exploration of the capitalising of outer-space and the agents who are establishing the market. The People In Order series (Channel 4, 2006) has gone on to be shown at festivals in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Australia and the USA and was the first series of 3 Minute Wonders to be selected by Channel 4 in their annual review of work. James Price has also exhibited video installations and photography in the UK. His 2006 installation, Conversation, an exploration of human interaction and judgment, has shown in the UK, Canada, the USA, and Iran. This work is being distributed as an educational aid in the UK, Australia and North America. In 2012 he produced The Body Adorned a semi-permanent installation in the Anthropology Department at the Horniman Museum, London.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 10

Rachel Lee, ‘Searching for the Social in the Tropical’

Tropical architecture was institutionalised as a professional field in the metropolis of mid-twentieth century London. Drawing on theories developed over two centuries by military and medical experts, and augmented by the experiences of modern architects and planners who had worked in Britain’s colonial territories, tropical architecture is generally understood as a climate-centric approach to building in the ‘tropics’.

This conception, however, may be too reductive. Several of the key protagonists involved in the institutionalisation of tropical architecture were not exclusively concerned with the climatic aspects of building in tropical regions. Perhaps in contrast to the hygiene engineers who preceded them, they shared a commitment to creating buildings that attempted to understand and respond to the social needs of the users e.g. in the West Indies Robert Gardner-Medwin endeavoured to create buildings that suited the social customs as well as the climatic conditions and the building materials; in Chandigarh Fry and Drew made social surveys, the results of which influenced the designs of buildings such as shops, houses and cinemas; and in 1950, as the Federal Republic of India’s Director of Housing, Otto Koenigsberger began conducting an extensive social survey of Delhi.

With a view to creating a more nuanced understanding of the history of tropical architecture, this paper will attempt to illuminate the role that social issues played in the development of the field. While taking into account recent scholarship that has highlighted tropical architecture’s inextricable links to decolonisation, it will address to what extent tropical architecture was stripped of social concerns and examine why, despite the more inclusive interests of some of the figures key to its development, it was reduced to a climate-based technoscientific field.

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Rachel Lee is a research associate at the Brandenburgische Technische Universitaet Cottbus and a lecturer at the Technische Universitaet Berlin, where she is currently completing her doctorate on Otto Koenigsberger’s works and networks in exile. She is also a member of MOD Institute – an urban research and design collective based in Bangalore and Berlin.