Tropical Architecture: Critical Regionalism in the Age of Globalization

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Alexander Tzonis, Liane Lefaivre, Bruno Stagno
Wiley, Jun 15, 2001 - Architecture - 320 pages
The tropical region covers a significant proportion of the globe, and yet its architecture receives relatively little outside comment or exposure. Dispersed widely throughout the world, the region incorporates areas as far-flung as the Caribbean islands, India, South-East Asia, and large parts of Australia, Africa and South and Central America. Despite their great cultural diversity, these areas share both climatic and ecological factors, as well as a post-colonial condition and the pressures of modernization in the world of globalization. Architects' reactions to the tropical context are as varied as the region is diverse.
Tropical Architecture brings together architects and critics from throughout the tropical region, examining the implications of the opposing forces of tradition and innovation and the struggle between global and local order. Among the issues covered are sustainability, bio- and cultural diversity, micro-climatic control and technology and multi-disciplinary design. The argument centres on Critical Regionalism, a concept introduced into the architectural debate in the early 1980s by two of the book's co-authors, Tzonis and Lefaivre. This is not a style but rather an approach to architecture that asks for design to be conceived in response to the needs and opportunities of a specific region - although it is not inherently opposed to global potentials. The theoretical debate is backed up by case studies of a range of projects, from small-scale designs using minimal technology to super-sophisticated, high-tech solutions, and from schemes that look to environmental comfort to ones concerned with issues of symbolism and memory. It is out of this multiplicity of approaches that the general global lesson of Critical Regionalism as applied to tropical architecture is to be found.
THE PRINCE CLAUS FUND stimulates and supports activities in the field of culture and development by granting awards, funding and producing publications and by financing and promoting networks and innovative cultural activities. Support is given both to persons and to organizations in African, Asian, Latin American and Caribbearn countries.

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The Suppression and Rethinking of Regionalism
Some Cultural Dilemmas
Modernizing AppropriationsAppropriating

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About the author (2001)

ALEXANDER TZONIS is Professor of Architectural Theory at the TUDelft and director of Design Knowledge Systems Research Center. Among his books are Towards a Non-Oppressive Environment (I-Press/MIT Press, 1972) and Hermes and the Golden Thinking Machine (Bradford/MIT Press, 1990). He has also co-authored several books with Liane Lefaivre, including Classical Architecture (MIT Press, 1986) and the AIA prize-winning Architecture in Europe since 1968 (Thames Hudson, 1992).
LIANE LEFAIVRE is a researcher at the DKS Center at the TUDelft. She has authored prize-winning scholarly books on the Renaissance and Enlightenment, among them the AIA award-winning Leon Battista Alberti's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (MIT Press, 1997). She is a contributing editor of Architecture magazine in New York and has written widely on contemporary architecture, in particular on dirty realism.
BRUNO STAGNO, a practising architect in San Jose, Costa Rica, studies in Santiage, Chile and Paris and is one of the most eminent architects of South America today. He is Director of the Institute for Tropical Architecture, San Jose. His work has been published in Bruno Stagno: An Architect in the Tropics (Asia Design Forum Publications, 1999). It was Stagno's initiative to invite leading architects from the tropical region to enter a discussion that served as a point of departure of the present book. In 1997 he was given the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development Award.

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