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Tropical architecture:critical regionalism in the age of globalization

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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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