What is tropical architecture? Instead of assuming it as a
"natural" asocial, apolitical and ahistorical entity, this book
provides the first thorough account of its formations and
A Genealogy of Tropical Architecture" traces the origins of
tropical architecture to eighteenth and early nineteenth century
British colonial architectural knowledge and practices. It uncovers
how systematic knowledge and practices on environmental
technologies in the tropics such as ventilation and sun-shading
were linked to military technologies, medical theories, cultural
assumptions, and sanitary practices, and were manifested in
building types such as military barracks, hospitals and
Drawing on the interdisciplinary scholarships on postcolonial
studies, science studies, and environmental history, Jiat-Hwee
Chang argues that tropical architecture was inextricably entangled
with the socio-historical constructions of tropical nature and the
politics of colonial governance and postcolonial development.
Drawing its main case studies from Singapore, these case studies
are situated in relation to the production, circulation and
reception of the knowledge and practices of tropical architecture
across different time-spaces in the larger British colonial
networks, from Britain to British India, from the West Indies to
By bringing to light new historical materials through formidable
research and tracing the history of tropical architecture beyond
what is widely considered today as its "founding moment" in the
mid-twentieth century, this important and original book bears not
only upon our understanding of the colonial urban environment but
also upon contemporary concerns with sustainable architecture.
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