All architecture mediates context. Whether designed to embrace or enclose, every building exists within unique cultural and environmental conditions. Specifically designed to address a range of natural elements, tropical architecture focuses on issues of ventilation, integration and climate. Made to reorganize and contrast their surroundings, these projects showcase the tension between functional structures and organic contexts. They are designs that are defined by materials and building envelopes.
Exploring tropical architecture through the lens of modernism, the following collection draws together 10 cultural projects from the Architizer database. Designed with a common relationship to the outdoors, these projects trade ornamentation and free-flowing forms for rational detailing and structural innovation. Made with rectilinear volumes and lines, they are designed to orient and expand spatial boundaries at a cultural scale. Each design centers on nature and environment through a modernist lens.
Reinterpreting and embracing the surrounding context, the Perez Art Museum was designed with careful attention to nature, public space and climate. Located along Biscayne Bay, the project was elevated above flood and storm surge requirements, and the building features diverse landscape elements like hanging gardens as part of its integrated design approach.
Orquideorama is both a garden and public space designed through scale, organization and pattern. Allowing growth and flexibility through seven hexagonal modules, the project provides space for a range of activities between structural supports and clustered gardens.
Created to form a strong sense of immersion within nature, the Atlantic Center aimed to foster collaboration among artists across disciplines. Embracing the jungle-like landscape, the project includes studios that were embedded in the vegetation and linked by boardwalks above the forest floor.
As a multipurpose pavilion along the sea, Flow features a folded floor plate that accommodates different programs. The area is protected from the tropical sunlight by a layered leaflet roof with small unit openings that allow hot air to rise and sunlight to shimmer through.
Khmeresque was built as a Won Buddhist temple in Cambodia. Building upon local traditions and the Khmer culture, the project creates space for gathering between indoor and outdoor sections. Local materials combine with natural features to create an architecture that is part of its landscape.
Bringing together 37 city agencies into one building, this city hall combines open and shared public spaces by embracing Acapulco’s modernist architecture from the 1950s. Four boxes were suspended from a cantilevered structural roof, while a series of terraces and porous circulation areas create blurred boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces.
As a structuring facility for all the buildings that constitute the Guyanese University Campus, the new library was designed with an open, peripheral space called the gallery. This open space was made to integrate with the surroundings as a liminal area that embraces the tropical context.
Addressing desires for outdoor living among the tropical heat of Bangkok, The Commons creates a new vertical public space that unfolds within the building. A landscape of steps, ramps and integrated platforms form an area that’s well-shaded and promotes natural ventilation throughout.
Addressing a need for improved student services, the JCU Education Center was built to reflect the university’s tropical identity and build a sense of community. As a new front door to the university, the hub includes large-scale active learning spaces and diverse social learning ares.
Linking together architecture and nature, this project was inspired by Thailand’s largest rain forest, Khao Yai. Designed with an integrated, man-made and sustainable forest, the design combines topographic landforms, recreational areas, pools and diverse functions within a tropical atmosphere.