Tropical Architecture Perspective 3

In relation  to  tropical architecture,  the  theme  is broken down  into several categories, which are  tropical  studies,  tropika  Britannica,  tropical  discourse,  tropical  narrative  and  tropical value engineering. A method adopted for these researches is through value engineering.

According  to  “Design  with  Climate:  Bioclimatic  Approach  to  Architectural  Regionalism”, written by Victor Olgyay, several principles were pointed out, which are bioclimatic approach, regional  evaluation,  climatic  elements,  site  selection,  sol-air  orientation,  solar  control  on environment  and  building,  forms,  wind  effects  and  air  flow  patterns,  thermal  effects  of materials  and  heliothermic  planning.  These  principles  are  believed  to  be  good  design approaches responding to the climate. 

A  study  on  the wind  orientation  patterns  of  Penang  built  awareness  in  the  importance  of climatic  elements  in  a  design.  Sol-air  orientation  of  a  building  and  solar  control  are  also important  elements  to  be  considered  in  design.  To  some  extent,  the  Cheong  Fatt  Zhe mansion actually  incorporated feng shui principles  in relation  to sol-air orientation and solar control. Building forms play very big roles in tropical architecture. The idea is to understand the  reason  behind  the  implementation  of  design  according  to  each  climate,  cultural  and social setting.

The  second  part  suggests  a  review  on  the  early  historical  examples  in  the  cultural landscape. In the renovation project of the Suffolk House, careful considerations towards the heritage  of  the  building  are  studied  and  responded  critically  in  the  design.  Tropical architectural approach was there even before it came into being. Shop houses also possess important elements of tropical design. An example given is the Penang Heritage Trust Office whereby the designer refurbished the lot and at the same time respects the existing tropical design aspect.

The  next  part  is  of  the  tropical  discourse.  The  case  study  chosen  is  the  Penang  city.  A simple study of architectural design elements applied now are very much the same as in the old  days.  However,  we  have  to  ask  ourselves  -  do  these  elements  work  in  our  existing context  now? Do  they  response  to  the  climate,  or  is  it  just  an  aesthetic  feature? Do  our created  streetscapes  work?  How  do  the  modern  ideas  intervene  with  the  past?  This suggests  a  deep  study on  the  functions  of  the design  elements  introduced  in  the modern context.  In  response  to  the questions,  the speaker urges designers  to design with  literacy, meaning  to  understand  and  know  the  proper  method  applied  previously  before  applying something new.

The next part suggests tropical narrative, a  landscape as a story. An example of  this  is  the design of the Balai Istiadat (Penang). It incorporates the seven Islamic Landscape or lived-in spaces. This project suggests a re-interpretation of  tropical context  through  the narration of landscaping. Another case study reflecting the idea is the Lunaganga Gardens, designed by Geoffrey Bawa. The narrative  journey  through  the site  from  the gate,  the arrival court,  the broad walk, the house and the landscape design evokes an intention to captivate the history whereby memories are intertwined.

In  conclusion,  the  bioclimatic  approach  is  considered  to  be  one  of  the  first  principles  for problem  solving.  Tropical  architecture  should  be  based  on  the  understanding  of  cultural context and continuity  towards  future development.  It should be embedded  in  the narrative place. It is not about style but about engineering tropical responses.
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