Archive

Tag Archives: tropical architecture

Maxwell Fry, the architect and planner of Ibadan University, considered the campus to be the highlight of his career, although he confessed that he found the Kenneth Dike library elevation too ‘lace-like’.

It is an extraordinary structure and we’ve covered it on the TAG blog previously, as well as printing a 3D sectional model of the structure. Taking a more retro step, I’ve now produced a hand-drawn (rotring, ink wash) front elevational drawing of the building (minus the small reading room on the RHS and smaller structure on the LHS, for clarity).

Kenneth Dike Library at Ibadan University, Nigeria

The drawing stretches over 2 x A1 sheets and has been scanned, pieced together, and the blue ‘sky’ added in Photoshop. I’m going to follow drawing with some additional studies into various libraries in Ghana – especially the Children’s Library in Accra (Nickson and Borys); Sekondi Regional Library (James Cubitt); Koforidua Library (also by Cubitt); KNUST Library (?) and the iconic Bolgatanga library by Max Bond.

Ghana’s housing – an historical retrospective.
Ola Uduku writes:

Visiting Ghana gives one the chance to step back through time – there is an abundance of housing which has survived the vicissitudes of the temporal, physical and socio economic life of more than fifty years; and in certain cases an entire century of existence in the unforgiving tropical climate which comprises much of Southern Ghana’s landscape. In two weeks we came across these special gems.

 Timber housing: Colonial Ghana, then called the Gold Coast along with Nigeria had significant swathes of forests which were sources of tropical hardwood. The Colonial government established significant agro-forestry concerns in both countries, which resulted in timber research stations. The two houses in this post are examples of experimental worker housing that these research stations were responsible for developing. We think that the Kibi house, near the market town of Koforidua,  is over one hundred years old. The other lapped wood house was found at the Aburi botanic gardens, which had previously been the site of a sanatorium. Interestingly both buildings have substantial elements preserved including; walls, casement windows, wooden flooring and roofing elements. Generally only the non ‘wood’ roofing sheets have had to be replaced.

Brick Housing: At Kibi also across the road from the ‘forestry’ house we found an example of a demonstration brick building. This was a semi detached pair of worker quarters set out as a single depth bungalow with a wide verandah and walls one brick thick. The first building retained the balcony format whilst the second had its balcony appropriated to create more space for the larger families who now occupied these buildings.

 

Experimental Brick Housing in Kibi

Experimental Brick Housing in Kibi

Impregilo Prefabricated Housing
Going to Akosombo Community One  – which was where the elite staff and also the contractor Impregilo had its staff quarters revealed a further rare find.  Built on a higher part of the Community One hill ridge are the original staff quarters for Imregilo staff, we assume these would have been for the Italian foremen and remain in near pristine condition. The original prefabricated lightweight wall-panels can be seen clearly in the neat avenue of houses which looked in some ways like a re-created Italian village scene. A number of the houses had the individually built ‘sit out’ verandah areas with views to the Akosombo landscape and the staff club below.

Impregilo Housing in Akosombo

Prefabricated housing for Italian contractors at Akosombo

View of the Akosombo Dam

View of the Akosombo Dam from Community 1

Today’s domestic architecture in Ghana as in much of West Africa unfortunately seems to have not incorporated much of the ‘environmental design rules’ that these and other residences of this early post independence era were able to employ. The site orientation, use of lightweight materials, utilisation of large areas of operable fenestration, and shading, have all contributed to make these now historic houses exemplars of how domestic buildings could be built to ensure thermal comfort without reliance on today’s ubiquitous air conditioning systems. Surely it is now time to re-evaluate the principles so aptly demonstrated in these houses and use them as a basis for developing a more sustainable response to tropical housing in Africa today.

As part of our British Academy Internationalisation and Mobility grant Iain Jackson and Ola Uduku visited Rexford Opong at KNUST in March (we included some brief updates here: Notes from Kumasi and Notes from Kumasi: part 2 and also Notes from Kumasi Part 3). We were fortunate enough to visit the Estate Planning Department and drawing offices and photographed some of the original drawings made of the university estate and buildings. Whilst every effort is being made to carefully preserve these drawings they have been subject to the ravages of time, humidity and vermin attack and many are in a poor state of repair. They are unlikely to survive for much longer.

dsc_0170

Drawing of the First Floor Senior Staff Club House, KNUST

In an attempt to remedy and counter this we are putting together an ‘Archives in Danger’ grant that, if successful, will enable these important artefacts to be digitally scanned/carefully photographed and then carefully preserved and archived for future scholarship.

In the meantime we’ve used the photographed drawings to produce a series of new CAD files. Pedro Bittencourt, a student based at Liverpool School of Architecture, has worked dilligently on translating the imperial scales into a metric format and has produced all of the new drawings. He has then used these drawings to construct a beautiful scale model of the Club House, utilising a laser cutter as to form the delicate components.

pedro

Pedro with the completed scale model

We’re hoping to produce additional models of other buildings on campus that can be used in exhibitions and as part of our lecture series.

img_0125img_0126

The Architecture of Edwin Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew:

We’re delighted to announce that our Fry and Drew book is to be published in paperback format in a few days time. This should make it a little more affordable and hopefully accessible to a broader audience in West Africa and India…

9781409451983

https://www.routledge.com/The-Architecture-of-Edwin-Maxwell-Fry-and-Jane-Drew-Twentieth-Century/Jackson-Holland/p/book/9781409451983

 

Fabrications Journal: Tropical Zone: people, practices and pedagogies (27:2)

Two decades of architectural debate on environmental issues have cast new light on climatic responses, with very different interpretations of the meanings and constructions of the ‘tropical’ zone. Colonial, modernist and regional responses have been scrutinised as genealogically linked. Scientific discourses, cultural prejudices and social approaches intertwined to produce a resilient dialectic that has been reproduced, augmented or interrogated in research. This issue of Fabrications invites contributors to address the theme of the tropical zone as an architectural construct created and disseminated by a range of actors including educators, practitioners and their clientele, and state and institutional networks. Who were they/what were these and how did they approach this subject? What was their contribution to architectural production? How was that contribution received? How is it viewed retroactively in the light of new scholarship?

This issue anticipates papers that interrogate the term, its application and its imprint in regional histories, during the colonial and modern periods and after decolonisation in environments identified by the descriptor ‘tropical’. However, it also seeks new definitions of the term and its usage, in the context of contemporary environmental debates. It looks for new analyses of discursive trends from metropolitan centres of imperialism, from former colonies and from regions that regard themselves as climatically distinct. This issue is also open to papers that discuss how an understanding of the tropical zone relates to green architecture and new techno-scientific building processes, both in terms of aesthetics and politics.

Guidelines for Authors

Papers should be submitted online at  www.edmgr.com/rfab  by 10 October 2016, 6-9000 words, full details at http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rfab20/current

Notes from Kumasi Part 3

At the KNUST campus the library and Great Hall complex work very well within their elevated landscape setting. The Gerlach and Gillies-Reyburn’s muscular grey abstract ‘kente’ cloth brutalist hall and library extension is arranged in a ‘quad’. The complex overlooks the campus, facing a formal axis that leads to the administrative and teaching blocks. The composition is completed on its south flank by an architectural gem, which we discovered is the original KNUST library block. Is this James Cubitt’s riposte to Fry and Drew’s Ibadan Library?

DSC_0246

DSC_0276

The Old Library Block

The ‘old’ KNUST library presents an essay in tropical architectural design. Still sitting on its cast, fluted piloti this four storey structure employs screen walling, operable louver windows, and shading devices to both demonstrate and celebrate the possibilities of creating a successful architectural resolution to the needs of passive design. Its forlorn main entrance, clad in travertine, and superseded by the Gerlach and Gillies-Reyburn entrance to the East, shows the quality of materials employed in specific areas of its design.

 

DSC_0101

Administration Offices and Meeting Room

Inside, much of the Library building seems frozen in time. Reading carrels lie empty whilst the daylight filled reading spaces, with custom built, empty journal shelves have few readers, and ageing academic book collections. The e-resource room however has been kitted out with desktop computers and seems to be the most used student space in the building. A second “IT” floor was being planned, and the new desktop computers were just being commissioned, in spaces flooded with artificial light, closed to the exterior with floor to ceiling fabric curtains – only this space in the building needed fans for cooling. Meanwhile the offices at the top floor with their no longer used spiral staircase took one to another world of naturally cross ventilated office space, and custom designed insect screens – demonstrating that climate responsive design in the tropics still works. One hopes its on-going transformation doesn’t forget this idea.

Exhibition: Tropicality Revisited: Recent Approaches by Indonesian Architects is currently on show at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum , Frankfurt, Germany.

ImageHandler.ashx-2

29 August 2015 – 3 January 2016, 3rd floor
GUIDED TOURS: Saturday and Sunday, 14:00

ImageHandler.ashx

Architecture in the Tropics was never just about offering shelter from rain and sun. “Tropical architecture” suddenly gained global relevance with the emergence of Modernist Architecture and was adapted to suit all climates and cultures. During the post-War period the science of climatic architectural design became an international success. For many generations of Indonesian architects, the tropics has never been a romantic colony, but a harsh reality with its torrential rains, heat, and high humidity. Today, “tropical architecture” is often easily forgotten by the critics, lost behind the glazed and airconditioned skyscrapers or the celebrated designs for tropical tourist resorts. At times, it seems to be taken for granted – pitched roof and overhangs are the ready-to-use answers – but it is also a challenge for architects to find new solutions. In the days of climate change and energy crises, architecture adapted to the climate is making a triumphal comeback.

ImageHandler.ashx-3
12 ARCHITECTS \ 12 PROJECTS

  • Achmad Tardiyana, Jakarta – Rumah Baca, Bandung
  • Adi Purnomo \ mamostudio, Ciputat – Studi-O Cahaya, West Jakarta
  • djuhara + djuhara, Ciputat – Wisnu Steel House, Bekasi
  • andramatin, Jakarta – Andra Matin House, Jakarta
  • Csutoras & Liando, Jakarta – Kineforum Misbar, Jakarta
  • d-associates, Bandung – Tamarind House, Jakarta
  • EFF Studio, Denpasar \ Bali – Almarik Restaurant, Gili Trawangan \ Lombok
  • Eko Prawoto Architecture Workshop, Yogyakarta – Eko Prawoto House, Yogyakarta
  • Studio Akanoma, Bandung – Ciledug Timber House, Ciledug \ Tangerang
  • LABO, Bandung – House #1 at Labo. the mori, Bandung
  • Studio TonTon, Jakarta – Ize Hotel, Seminyak \ Bali
  • Urbane Indonesia, Jakarta – Baiturrahman Mosque, Kopeng \ Yogyakarta

More information at: http://www.dam-online.de/ 

TAG Press Launched

The Transnational Architecture Group has published its first book, on none other than Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew. The aim of TAG press is not to publish lengthy peer-reviewed and ‘academic’ books, but rather to serve as an outlet for photographic material, catalogues, surveys and short essays.
The Fry and Drew Tropical Source Book contains photographic material on Fry and Drew’s projects in India and West Africa; including some previously unpublished letters sent by Fry in the early 1950s whilst he was working in Chandigarh to his site architect, Tony Halliday based in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Tropical Source Book

Available as soft back on the Publications Page above.