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Tag Archives: tropical architecture

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

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

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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.

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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.

Scottish independence. Should there be an independent Scotland, or should Scotland remain an integral part of the United Kingdom? As the clock ticks closer to the proposed referendum on 18 September 2014, the debate rages on. Although the mid-twentieth century independence of West African nations took place under completely different circumstances, this article uses the present independence debate to re-ignite a discussion on Nigeria’s decolonization years, the attainment of independence and the architecture which emerged as a consequence.

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The Governor General of Nigeria Sir James Robertson, and the new Nigerian Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa on Oct 1, 1960

 

The clamour for independence and self-rule in West Africa gradually began after World War II.  This achieved its highpoint in 1957, when Ghana became the first African nation to attain independence and transit from colonial rule to self-governance. One feature which perhaps, became widely synonymous with the country’s drive for independence was the Pan-Africanist movement and the frontline role of Kwame Nkrumah, who later became Ghana’s pioneering president. However, a less referenced but equally important tribute to Ghana’s independence, were the architectural monuments which were constructed to commemorate the event. Chief among these is the Accra independence arch.

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Independence Arch, Accra, 1957

 

As with Ghana, self-governance calls had pervaded different levels of Nigerian society before the October 1 1960 independence date. The most prominent perhaps were those propagated through African edited newspapers like the West African Pilot, and which echoed the voices of native elites and politicians. Nigeria’s formal decolonization process however appears to have started with the 1945 promulgation of Richard’s constitution. Not only had this constitution granted greater levels of native participation in the legislative house, it equally paved way for the much sought after regional system of governance. Nigeria was therefore reorganized along political and administrative lines into a Western region with headquarters at Ibadan, a Northern region with headquarters at Kaduna, and, an Eastern region with headquarters at Enugu, while Lagos remained the Federal Headquarters. With this new organizational structure came the formation of regional houses of Assembly and the election of its representative members.

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Design for Eastern Nigeria parliamentary complex, 1960

Of equal importance were the new parliamentary complexes being built to usher in the emerging era of self-governance, beginning from October 1 1960. The new buildings may therefore be described as some of Nigeria‘s most prominent symbols of transition to self-rule, and were indeed the ‘architecture of independence’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Call for Papers: Crossing boundaries: Rethinking European architecture beyond Europe

13-17 April 2014 Palermo

The International network “European Architecture beyond Europe: : Sharing Research and Knowledge on Dissemination Processes, Historical Data and Material Legacy (19th-20th centuries)”, chaired by Mercedes Volait and Johan Lagae, and supported by EC funding through the COST Action IS0904, is opening calls for papers for its final Conference to take place on 13-17 April 2014 at Palermo (Italy).

The conference will have the 6 following sessions:

Transnational studies and cultural transfers” (chaired by Kathleen James-Chakraborty).

Methods and methodologies: Writing the histories of European imperial/colonial architecture” (chaired by Alex Bremner and JoAnne Mancini). 

“Looking eastward, building identities. The architecture of European diplomacy beyond the Mediterranean in the age of Empire” (chaired by Paolo Girardelli and Mercedes Volait).

Tropical architecture” (chaired by Ola Uduku and Iain Jackson).

Architectures of exile: Visions and re-visions of the global modern in the age of the refugee” (chaired by Regina Göckede and Rachel Lee).

Architecture as development aid: Modernization, technical assistance and the design of institutions” (chaired by Tom Avermaete and Kim de Raedt).

The deadline for proposing a paper (300-word abstract) is 1 December 2013. Submissions to the chairs of the sessions should be accompanied by a short biographical note (max. 150 words). Acceptance decisions will be communicated by mid-December. Please note that invited speakers are expected to submit their complete paper by 15 March, 2014, to be circulated among the conference’s participants. Speakers based in countries participating in the Action (refer to the website http://www.architecturebeyond.eu for the complete list) will be able to claim reimbursement of their expenses. A few grants will be available for speakers based in other countries. For further information, please contact the sessions’ chairs or write to is0904@inha.fr.

Transnational studies and cultural transfers

Chaired by Kathleen James-Chakraborty (University College Dublin)

European architects have worked beyond Europe since the time of the Crusades.  Many architectural historians have documented these practices. In recent years particular attention has been paid to architects who emigrated to escape authoritarian regimes and who are widely credited with having brought modernism with them.  Most of this literature, however, floats independently of social science scholarship on transnationalism, and much of it focuses on the movement of forms and theories, rather than on how people structure their own identity in relationship to their experiences of other places and cultures.  Moreover, relatively little of this writing engages the role of the client, although the role of local building cultures is beginning to receive the attention it deserves.  And finally, very little of it is comparative.  What is the difference between Genoese settlements on the Black Sea, for instance, and Portuguese ones on the African coast?

This session seeks papers that rectify this situation. Particularly welcome are contributions that consider current anthropological investigations of transnationalism and theories of cultural transfer and their applicability to architectural history. What can architectural historians learn from methodologies developed largely to analyze more portable forms of artifacts, not to mention ideas?  Also desired are papers that seek to conceptualize the ways in which transnational architectural practice has changed across time.  What, for instance, distinguishes the German architects that came to the United States following 1933 from those who emigrated after 1848?  Papers might also examine the problem of determining what role biographical experience plays in the designs of any architect.   This is particularly important in the case of a profession that is profoundly collaborative, engaging clients, builders, and users as well as designers.  Other questions that might be addressed include what motivates clients to hire architects from other countries and how do these architects operate once they have such commissions.  Are they employed because of technical or stylistic expertise gained abroad, or are other factors at work?  What types of information and ideas travel with them, and under what circumstances are what local conditions taken into account?

Kathleen James-Chakraborty kathleen.JamesChakraborty@ucd.ie

Methods and methodologies: Writing the histories of European imperial/colonial architecture

Chaired by Alex Bremner (Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture) and JoAnne Mancini (National University of Ireland Maynooth)

This session seeks to explore and debate the ways in which we write (and have written) the history of ‘European architecture abroad’, particularly in the context of European imperial expansion. For some thirty years now the study of European imperial and colonial architecture has largely been refracted through the theoretical lens of post-structuralism—mainly appropriated from philosophy, literary  and cultural studies—in the form of the ‘Orientalist’ critique of Edward Said and other forms of Foucauldian discourse analysis, nominally referred to as ‘post-colonial theory’. As powerful and seductive as these modes of analysis may be, and as useful in their opening new ways of seeing and interpreting forms of cultural production such as architecture, they have become formulaic, predictable, and even orthodox. They have also received trenchant and sustained criticism from the wider scholarly community in historical studies (especially outside art and architecture circles) for their inherent limitations.

This leaves us with the question of where the study of European imperial and colonial architecture might turn next.  On the whole, other scholarly and cognate traditions, such as early modern and modern European history, have developed more diverse and wide-ranging approaches to the study of empire and culture, adapting insights from geography, environmental studies, anthropology, and other disciplines; and have devoted significant attention to integral concepts such as networks and agency. Although not necessarily opposed to discourse analysis, these scholarly frameworks—including regional approaches (‘Atlantic’, ‘Pacific’, ‘Indian Ocean’, and ‘World/Global’ histories), network theory, and ‘connected’ histories—provide new and very different insights than those provided by post-colonial theory.  However, just as architectural historians have not fully engaged with scholars in these fields, early modern historians have also been somewhat reluctant to engage fully with architecture and the built environment as agents and repositories of social practice and social change.

Can, indeed should, architectural history engage more with these alternative scholarly traditions and modes of analysis? What can we learn from them, and how might we apply them?  How might architectural historians interact more productively with colleagues in history and historical social science disciplines to encourage more architecturally-informed analysis in those fields?  Or, ought post-colonial theory remain the key concept and frame of reference that underpins our study of the colonial built environment?  This session welcomes papers that address any aspects of these key questions, either by dealing specifically with methodological approaches that enhance, progress, and/or transform our understanding of European imperial and colonial architecture, or by exploring case studies that allow for these methodological concerns to be elaborated in specific contexts. Put simply: where are we, where are we going, and where do we want to be as scholars of the colonial built environment.

Alex Bremner alex.bremner@ed.ac.uk & JoAnne Mancini JoAnne.Mancini@nuim.ie

Looking eastward, building identities: The architecture of European diplomacy beyond the Mediterranean in the age of Empire

Chaired by Paolo Girardelli (Boğaziçi University) and Mercedes Volait (CNRS/INHA)

Embassies are, by definition, representative institutions, but the share of their architectural shelters in this signifying function is a complex and still understudied issue. By transferring a fragment of the nation beyond its frontiers, embassies, consulates and other officially “foreign” architectures engage in a complex cultural dynamic of encounter, estrangement or integration. Symbolic, identitarian and political meanings may be variously inscribed in their architectural fabric; balances in social topography may be altered – all the more when
such buildings were constructed or adapted by European powers in countries with a remarkable degree of geographical/cultural distance. The stylistic heterogeneity resulting from the interactions and constraints inherent to diplomacy is all the more bewildering in such cases.

This session is meant to develop a critical and comparative reflection on a rather neglected aspect of architectural and urban history that informs the global spread of European forms and aesthetics through an unusual lens. It proposes to do so by concentrating on the geography that lies East of the Mediterranean and on places and structures located outside the direct colonial confrontation. We are interested in contributions looking at buildings related not only to the main Western European players, but indeed to Eastern and Central European agency. Empirical as well as conceptual and theoretical research on European diplomatic structures in the Ottoman, Persian and non-colonial Asian geography, as well as in peripheral cities of the Russian empire, can be presented and discussed in this session.

We invite papers assessing the ways in which European diplomacy, international relations, and changing power balances shaped important parts of the built environment outside Europe, in a space/time framework characterized by expanding European penetration eastward and corresponding roughly to the long 19th century and beyond. We are particularly interested in contributions that address the architectural embodiment of encounters and representational strategies within innovative frameworks, exploring new ground beyond the conventional critique of Orientalism. Preeminence will be given to proposals reflecting on the appropriate methods and sources for this kind of trans-national investigation, and addressing the history of diplomatic buildings as a constant reworking of images, styles, spaces and political messages, affecting each other in unpredictable ways.

Paolo Girardelli girardel@boun.edu.tr & Mercedes Volait mercedes.volait@inha.fr

Tropical architecture

Chaired by Ola Uduku (Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture) and Iain Jackson (The Liverpool School of Architecture)

‘Tropical Architecture’, used as a term here to define a particular strain of construction that seeks to address the hot, humid, and dry climes found between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, is inextricably connected with the colonial endeavours of Europe. Traditional scholarship has sought to historicise the canon and to look to early encounters between travellers, missionaries, military engineers and local populations. This seems like a sensible mode of enquiry from which to begin. Participants are encouraged to present research papers that have examined how ideas have travelled, been interpreted and eventually built, with particular interest on the indigenous perspective. We are also however seeking papers that take us beyond the archive; thus in addition to examining records of the indigenous contribution to tropical architecture, what of those forced to live in tropical dwellings, or to occupy schools, courts, and other such buildings? How did they modify or enhance the tropical capabilities of the buildings they occupied and what recorded or pictorial evidence do we have that shows what they thought of their surroundings? Finally, and importantly we are interested in the domestic setting; what constituted the ‘everyday’ what were the female, (and possibly youth) perspectives, on life in these new tropical dwellings. Also how was environmental comfort and hygiene, evaluated by local residents, as compared with the plans and expectations of the tropical research establishments in the home countries?

Tropical Architecture is a blunt, but useful term. Can we begin to draw out some revealing tributaries? The architecture of Port Cities and ‘sailor towns’, will inevitably vary to that of the hinterland, hill station, administrative centre or desert. What about the island, archipelago, peninsula, and mainland as specific places of exchange, encounter, settlement and isolation- can we begin in a more concerted manner to consider the architecture of these territories and conditions whilst thinking about the tropical? The architecture of trade, railways, stations, warehouses, dock walls and shipping offices all need further investigation.

Tropical architecture ‘at the edges’ is also pertinent; beyond the cosmic boundaries imposed by Cancer and Capricorn, what happens at the edges of the tropical – the subtropics and other such regions that form the imagined boundary. Is the architecture of these almost-tropical places of note, and how does it borrow or contribute to the broader debates. Other boundaries seem to exist at The Americas and Caribbean; they have not featured to the same extent as other geographic areas in recent scholarship. Is there a reason for this? Is the architecture of Rudolph and Polevizky in Florida, or Ossipoff in Hawai’i, or Kurchan and Hardoy in Buenos Aires not the right type of tropical architecture, or is there simply less to say about these, often glamorous, projects or places?

Biography is a contested historiographical method, but can we look more closely at the indigenous architects who have contributed to this canon often working alongside European architects, or should we accept that they should retain their anonymity in light of our concerns about biographical narratives? Equally should we continue to explore the life stories of Europeans who worked in the tropics? Should we be placing them more carefully within a broader narrative? Or indeed when does biography become hagiography – to what purpose and for what audience is it really meant.

Colonies within colonies, or neighbouring territories may offer new insights. For example, was the French Indian colony of Pondicherry culturally isolated from its surroundings, or can were discern ‘knowledge transfers’ and modes of exchange? How did the French differ in their approach to tropical design to the British, or Portuguese in Goa, for example? Taking this premise to its other extreme, what characterises early Indian labour settlements in Durban, or Chinese settlement in areas like San Francisco on America’s Western Seaboard, or West Indian/returnee African settlements in Sierra Leone, Liberia and other countries on the West African coast.

Ola Uduku o.uduku@ed.ac.uk and Iain Jackson Iain.Jackson@liverpool.ac.uk

Architectures of exile: Visions and re-Visions of the global modern in the age of the refugee

Chaired by Regina Göckede (BTU Cottbus) and Rachel Lee (TU Berlin)

The emergence of what is today known as international architecture is to a large extent related to the global impact of exiled European architects, who, scattered throughout the world, contributed decisively to its theoretical debates, institutional formations and built manifestations from the early 1920s onwards.

The historiography of exiled modern architecture has long focused on cases of purportedly successful and unidirectional cultural transfer as represented in the master narratives of prominent US immigrants such as Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. The dominant focus on individual biographies and histories of linear stylistic innovations has all too often overlooked the importance of discrepant discursive contexts (material and non-material alike), marginal geographical destinations, the effects of critical self-reflection, as well as the numerous tragedies of loss, disruption and failure under the conditions of forced dislocation. In the last two decades, there have been, however, several important studies that have contributed to a much more complex understanding and significantly extended knowledge (temporal as well as geographical) of the fragmented dynamics of architects’ and urban planners’ exilic dislocations (including re-migrations and transmigrations) and modern architecture and planning. In addition, new approaches from the fields of post-colonial and cultural studies have stimulated the emergence of conceptually de-centered and ideologically de-nationalized perspectives.

This session focuses on the intersection of exile and architectural practice as a historical phenomenon in an increasingly globalizing world. It seeks to re-examine both the exilic histories of our architectural present and the concept of exile as an analytical tool for interpretively grasping the so-called globalization of modern architecture.

We invite contributions by historians of architecture and art history as well as by scholars from related fields such as literary studies, anthropology, human geography and political history. Papers can address the many individual lives and works of 19th and 20th century exiled European architects with a view to their role in the transformation of international architecture, trace (discursive) modes of production and reception (including non-European resistance to Western cultural hegemony), test specific (historical) experiences for links with and relevance to current, or possibly earlier, exilic modes of planning and building, or investigate the research field’s historiographical overlaps and collusions with related interpretive paradigms like diasporic, (trans-)migrant, (post-)colonial, transnational, cosmopolitan, global, or international architecture. We are particularly interested in comparative perspectives and theoretical-methodological approaches that consider temporal/geographical variants, discrepant political-ideological conditions, and institutional and personal networks. We also invite papers that explore exilic careers of non-European architects within Europe or analyse the architecture produced, commissioned or inhabited by exiles who were not architects.

Regina Göckede goeckede@tu-cottbus.de & Rachel Lee rachel.lee@gmx.net

Architecture as development aid. Actors, networks and mechanisms in the design of institutional buildings in the postcolonial global South.

Chaired by Kim De Raedt (University of Ghent’s Faculty of Engineering & Architecture) & Tom Avermaete (Delft University of Technology)

This session deals with the theoretical and practical architecture expertise which emerged through development aid in the ‘global South’ after decolonisation. By looking specifically at development aid organisations, the aim is to unravel mechanisms of architecture and knowledge production specific to the postcolonial context, characterized by shifting political and economic conditions as a result of the Cold War. Through a particular focus on the design of institutional buildings (schools, universities, hospitals, etcetera), the session seeks to produce a mapping of postcolonial networks of expert(ise)s which substituted former métropole-colony relations.

Questions that could be addressed by the papers are: How did a specific type of ‘global expert’ arise through development aid? What was the role and position of such architect-experts within the highly institutionalized aid bodies they worked for, and to what extent could they operate autonomously within those organisations? What kind of architectural discourse was implicitly or explicitly constructed by development aid bodies? How did this lead to a particular approach to the design of institutional buildings? What was the role of African players in the production of those buildings?

Ultimately the session seeks to understand the specificity of the architecture production realized through development aid, and recognize the particularity of the role of the ‘architect-expert’ within aid organisations. This will allow identifying the continuities and shifts in discourse, mechanisms and architectural language with respect to the production of institutional buildings in the late colonial period, while also tentatively putting the increasing globalisation of the architecture practice today into a historical perspective.

Kim De Raedt kim.deraedt@ugent.be & Tom Avermaete T.L.P.Avermaete@tudelft.nl

 

‘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 17

Tim Livsey, ‘Fry and Drew at Ibadan: rethinking the “colonial modern”‘

This paper considers Fry and Drew’s buildings for University College Ibadan (UCI), Nigeria. These buildings have often recently been interpreted as part of a post-war ‘colonial modern’ moment, which saw a pact between rationalist urban planning and authoritarian colonial power. Colonial modern planning, including Fry and Drew’s work at Ibadan, has been interpreted as excluding indigenous voices from planning and upholding colonial power.

The paper uses the history of the UCI buildings to qualify colonial modern interpretations. It shows how Nigerian agendas influenced the planning of the buildings through a long pre-history of Nigerian thinking on higher education, and the acquisition of the site, which involved negotiations between the colonial state and local chiefs. Fractures within the colonial establishment are considered, including those between architects and client, suggesting that there was not an integrated colonial modern machine. The unexpected variety in the buildings’ reception and use is also considered, to explore the ways the buildings were interpreted by Nigerians.

However, the paper also endorses aspects of the colonial modern view, showing how Fry and Drew’s apparently apolitical ‘modern’ spaces were closely imbricated with colonial-era urbanism and constructions of whiteness. As such the buildings represented an ambivalent legacy to a decolonizing country.

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Tim Livsey is an AHRC funded PhD student at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is currently completing a thesis on ‘The University Age: Development and Decolonisation in Nigeria, 1930 to 1966’, which makes special reference to built environments, including Fry and Drew’s work at the University of Ibadan.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 14

’Yemi Salami, ‘Fry and Drew’s Influence on Colonial Public Works Architecture in Nigeria’

This study examines the influence of Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew on the architecture of Nigeria’s Colonial Public Works Department (PWD).  Mostly referred to as Fry and Drew, literature provides accounts of their coming to work in West Africa as architects and professional advisors during the mid-twentieth century. They are also deemed to have pioneered alongside other private architects of the time, the climate responsive design that has come to be known as ‘tropical architecture’.

The literature equally provides a glimpse into operations by the Public works Department (PWD). The department had largely produced the country’s earlier colonial buildings, as well as a good number of its mid-twentieth century buildings. The period therefore experienced a blend of designs by the new private architects and by the PWD. But did the designs of the new entrant private architects generate an impact on colonial building? How did the PWD build before this time? Did it have a design tradition by which it operated? Was this tradition affected by the new influences, particularly from Fry and Drew?

To answer these questions, the study will examine two Fry and Drew buildings and their application of tropical design principles. It will then explore two building types done by the PWD – a courthouse and a post office. For each building type, the study will examine its design in the earlier colonial years, as well as during the tropical architecture trend.  Changes arising in the new design will then be identified and discussed, particularly those most likely based on fry and drew influences. The purpose therefore, is not only to establish if Fry and Drew influenced PWD designs, but to also know what features they had influenced.

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Yemi Salami is a PhD student at the Liverpool School of Architecture, University of Liverpool. Her research investigates British colonial architecture in Nigeria between 1900 and 1960. Specifically, the research aims to understand the colonial administration’s Public Works Department (PWD), and the architecture which it produced within the period of study. Yemi held a faculty position at Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria, before enrolling for her PhD in November 2011.

‘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 11

José Luís Possolo de Saldanha, ‘Luís Possolo – The Portuguesespeaking Architect at the 1st AA Course in Tropical Architecture’

Luís Gonzaga Pedroso Possolo (Lisbon, 1924) was the only Portuguese‐speaking architect at the 1954/55 first edition of the Architectural Association’s Course in Tropical Architecture, held under Maxwell Fry.

Possolo’s performance seems to have been of a high standard there. In his report for the Portuguese Overseas Affairs Undersecretary of State, he points out that from all 120 designs by the students in class, only seven were selected for an exhibition at the AA ‐ Possolo being the only one to have two designs shown.

The grading panel at the course was made of Fry, Jane Drew, and J. Mckay Spence (who was Deputy Director for the Department). All grading reports on Possolo’s designs are extant, as well as his AA Diploma and a number of interesting documents ‐ such as his letters to, and from, Fry, Drew, Drake & Lasdun, upon finishing his Course at the AA, that show he was close to being hired by the office. However, he chose instead to return to Portugal, where he worked at the Overseas Planning Office (Gabinete de Urbanização do Ultramar) and produced a number of fine designs for Portuguese Africa.

Possolo’s auspicious period at the GUU then led him to privately design a number of highly creative projects – two of which were particularly important in Mozambique and Angola’s development and modernisation: the buildings for the Cambambe Dam, in Angola, and the Nacala Cement Factory, a mile north of the Mozambican city and port of Nacala.

In Possolo’s papers, we also find sketches deriving from projects by Fry and Drew, and a number of black‐and‐white photographs of tropical architecture by British offices. These provide evidence of the young architect’s keenness in following tropical architecture along the guidelines of the AA course. This also clearly comes through in his own built projects for Africa.

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José Luís Possolo de Saldanha graduated in architecture at the Universidade Técnica de Lisboa Faculty of Architecture in 1990. He held a scholarship (1999–2002) from Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian for his PhD, which he presented in 2003 at the University of Seville Superior Technical School of Architecture.

He has lectured in Architecture since 1996, and is an Assistant Professor with tenure in the Architecture and Urbanism Department at ISCTE-IUL (University Institute of Lisbon), where he has been teaching since 2006. He is presently President of the Pedagogic Council of this Higher Education Institution for the 2013–2014 biennium.

José Luís Saldanha is a member of the Dinâmia-CET Research Centre at ISCTE-IUL and has presented papers and authored, or co-authored, articles, books and chapters of books on a wide range of architectural themes, such as landscape, building design and tropical architecture. He has also been active in designing architecture for private and institutional clients in continental and insular parts of Portugal.

‘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.