A Genealogy of Tropical Architecture
Colonial Networks, Nature and Technoscience
A Genealogy of Tropical Architecture traces the origins of tropical architecture to nineteenth century British colonial architectural knowledge and practices. It uncovers how systematic knowledge and practices on building and environmental technologies in the tropics were linked to military technologies, medical theories and sanitary practices, and were manifested in colonial building types such as military barracks, hospitals and housing. It also explores the various ways these colonial knowledge and practices shaped post-war techno scientific research and education in climatic design and modern tropical architecture.
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-cultural constructions of tropical nature, and the politics of colonial governance and postcolonial development in the British colonial and post-colonial networks.
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 revises our understanding of colonial built environment. It also provides a new historical framework that significantly bears upon contemporary concerns with climatic design and sustainable architecture.
This book is an essential resource for understanding tropical architecture and its various contemporary manifestations. Its in-depth discussion and path breaking insights will be invaluable to specialists, academics, students and practitioners.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Framing Tropical Architecture Part 1 1. The Emergence of the Tropicalized House: Comfort in the Heteronomous and Heterogeneous Conditions of Colonial Architectural Production 2. Engineering Military Barracks: Experimentation, Systematization and Colonial Spaces of Exception 3. Translating Pavilion Plan Hospitals: Biopolitics, Environmentalism and Ornamental Governmentality 4. Improving "Native" Housing: Sanitary Order, Improvement Trust and Splintered Colonial Urbanism Part 2 5. Constructing Postcolonial Technoscientific Network: Building Science Research, "Rendering Technical" and the Power-knowledge of Decolonization 6. Teaching Climatic Design: Postcolonial Architectural Education, Scientific Humanism and Tropical Development Conclusion: Tropical Architecture Today Bibliography
Jiat-Hwee Chang is Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore.
"In this masterly account of the evolution of tropical architecture, Jiat-Hwee Chang combines the insights of Foucauldian governmentality with in-depth historical research and a keen understanding of colonial exceptionality. Focussing on four building types – the home, the barracks, the hospital and ‘native’ housing - he uncovers the colonial lineage of modern architectural forms and offers a radical reinterpretation of the ancestry of architectural tropicality. While centring on Singapore, Chang’s theoretically informed and richly empirical study opens up a wider critical perspective on architectural history across the entire region of South and Southeast Asia." - David Arnold, Professor Emeritus, University of Warwick, UK, author of Colonizing the Body and The Problem of Nature
"Meticulous and rigorous, Jiat-Hwee Chang brings us the first major study convincingly to span Victorian and modern colonial architecture. From colonial bungalows, through barracks, hospitals, public housing, court buildings and shophouses, covering technoscientific research and architectural education, and drawing from rich visual and scientific material, the book provocatively re-draws our understanding of tropical architecture. This is a true ‘genealogy’, a history of an idea as much as an account of its technologies and architectural manifestations." - Mark Crinson, Professor of Architectural History, Birkbeck College (London), UK, author of Modern Architecture and the End of Empire
"Jiat-Hwee Chang gives us a masterful history of "tropical architecture" way before that term was invented. He shows us how this architecture is entangled with social constructions of nature, the politics of colonialism, and the development of post-colonial discourses. It is a substantive and fascinating account that will be of significance to the architecture practitioners and academics in the region and beyond." - Nezar AlSayyad, Professor of Architecture, Planning, Urban Design, and Urban History, University of California, Berkeley, USA
"In this important and timely book, Jiat-Hwee Chang argues that tropical architecture -- often understood as a localized response to climatic conditions in the global south -- was conceived and produced through (post)colonial networks of knowledge and power. Drawing upon the case of Singapore, Chang’s meticulous and carefully theorized account reveals how the tropical and its architectural variants are at once a mode of governing, a framework for biopolitics, and a historical struggle over technoscience." - C. Greig Crysler, Associate Professor of Architecture and Arcus Chair for Gender, Sexuality and the Built Environment, College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley, USA
"Chang effectively demonstrates that all design knowledge is localized, and that only through its circulation through various institutions, agents and practices — 'technologies of distance,' in the author’s words, like prefabrication or data management — is it rendered as global."- Cole Roskam, University of Hong Kong
"The book is an expansively researched, well-written and beautifully crafted piece of scholarship that productively unsettles familiar narratives and political histories of tropical modern architecture….it is as delightful to read as it is engrossing." - Tariq Jazeel, University College London in Fabrications: The Journal of SAHANZ
"Chang offers a robust exploration of a range of issues that ambitiously deconstruct superstructures and meta narratives occurring at an imperial scale but tested at a local level, and this correlation ensures the study’s broader global reach... This book validates environments that were previously dismissed or commodified." - Anoma Pieris, University of Melbourne in Postcolonial Studies
"One of the strengths of the book is the clarity of its organization and argumentation, which allows for the complexity and richness of the research to come through… Overall, it is a welcome addition to an important area of scholarship, appealing equally to architectural historians as well as historians of technology." - Brian L. McLaren, University of Washington in Technology and Culture
"The book clearly shows that the discourse of sustainable architecture cannot be understood without its global political dimension. It also shows that the inclusion and exclusion of particular audiences in the colonial context lies at the heart of the global concept of a sustainable society." - Farhan Karim, University of Kansas in Planning Perspectives
"A Genealogy of Tropical Architecture [is] the result of a formidable and meticulously executed research effort, and an extraordinary piece of scholarship..." - Simon De Nys-Ketels, Ghent University in ABE Journal: Architecture Beyond Europe