Tropical Variants of Sustainable Archit

  • View
    214

  • Download
    0

Embed Size (px)

Text of Tropical Variants of Sustainable Archit

  • 8/18/2019 Tropical Variants of Sustainable Archit

    1/47

    The SAGE Handbook

    of Architectural Theory Tropical Variants of Sustainable

    Architecture: A Postcolonial Perspective

    Contributors: C. Greig Crysler & Stephen Cairns & Hilde Heynen Print Pub. Date: 2012 Online Pub. Date: May 31, 2012 Print ISBN: 9781412946131 Online ISBN: 9781446201756 DOI: 10.4135/9781446201756 Print pages: 602-625

    This PDF has been generated from SAGE knowledge. Please note that the pagination of the online version will vary from the pagination of the print book.

  • 8/18/2019 Tropical Variants of Sustainable Archit

    2/47

    National University Singapore

    Copyright ©2013 SAGE knowledge

    Page 2 of 47 The SAGE Handbook of Architectural Theory: Tropical Variants of Sustainable Architecture: A

    Postcolonial Perspective SAGE knowledge

    10.4135/9781446201756.n36

    [p. 602 ↓ ]

    Chapter 34: Tropical Variants of Sustainable Architecture: A Postcolonial Perspective

    Jiat-Hwee Chang

    In recent years, architectural discourses have been increasingly dominated by issues pertaining to sustainability. The wide acceptance of these discourses of sustainable architecture has led some critics to fear that they will become the new hegemonic knowledge – setting agendas and silencing other critical positions – in architectural education and practice (Jarzombek 1999). In response, some scholars argue that sustainable architecture can be understood pluralistically as situated socio-cultural practices, each with its own history, geography, and politics (Guy and Moore 2008). Despite this emphasis on the varieties of approaches, most studies of sustainable architecture, unlike scholarship in environmental politics and history, have largely been

    confined to the Euro-American contexts. Although exemplars from the ‘developing’ countries are sometimes included to give the impression of a global discourse, these studies tend to be silent on the variegated, historical and contested nature of the

    sustainability debate in the ‘developing’ countries.1 Instead, the inclusion of exemplars from ‘developing’ countries serves to demonstrate that sustainable architecture is a new monolithic global entity – one without history and differentiated only in terms of technoscientific configurations responding to ‘natural’ variations, such as climate and ecology, but entirely unaffected by socio-political forces.

    I propose to contribute to the pluralistic understanding of sustainable architecture by

    examining a few particular variants of it – permutations of tropical architecture in relation to the social, cultural and political conditions of the postcolonial contexts. By tropical architecture, I refer to the architectural discourses and practices that appear to give

    http://knowledge.sagepub.com/view/hdbk_architectheory/fn1n36.xml http://knowledge.sagepub.com/ http://www.sagepub.com/

  • 8/18/2019 Tropical Variants of Sustainable Archit

    3/47

    National University Singapore

    Copyright ©2013 SAGE knowledge

    Page 3 of 47 The SAGE Handbook of Architectural Theory: Tropical Variants of Sustainable Architecture: A

    Postcolonial Perspective SAGE knowledge

    primacy to tropical nature, mostly in terms of climatic and environmental conditions, as

    the prime determinant of architectural form. Tropical architecture could be regarded as a variant of sustainable architecture as there are many similarities between the current discourses of sustainable architecture and the prior discourses of tropical architecture in terms of their shared emphasis on minimizing resource usage and waste production, their common concern for social and cultural issues of a locality, and their association with the diverse issues of [p. 603 ↓ ] socio-economic development. Moreover, tropical architecture has recently been recast as sustainable architecture (Lauber et al. 2005).

    As has been convincingly argued elsewhere, the practices of sustainable architecture are better understood through narratives that attend to the particularities of a place

    and its socio-historical contingencies than through abstract models or best practice lists (Moore 2007), this chapter draws primarily from a situated study of architecture and discourses on sustainability in South and Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. The architecture and discourses to be examined centred around the discourses and practices of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) in these countries in the past two decades or so. Although primarily concerned with architectural excellence and socio-cultural development in Muslim societies around the world, AKAA activities have nonetheless wielded considerable influences over the trajectories that the discourses and practices of tropical sustainable architecture in South and Southeast Asia took (Chang 2007). Not only were the key protagonists of

    tropical sustainable architecture, such as Geoffrey Bawa and Ken Yeang, involved inAKAA's activities, its transnational network also enabled the coalescence of discrete discourses and practices from different nation-states into larger unitary regional ones. Moreover, AKAA's focus on the Islamic and non-Western world highlights the tensions behind North–South and East–West socio-cultural inequalities and differences, key aspects of the sustainability concept often ignored in Euro-American discourses on sustainable architecture.

    There are three main sections in this chapter, each representing a particular recent strand of tropical architecture, each with its own theories of sustainability, politics of development and entanglements with prior colonial history. In the first section, I examine recent tropical sustainable architecture in relation to the notions of ecological modernization and green developmentalism, and I show how it is in many ways an extension of the post-World-War-II development regime and the modern tropical

    http://knowledge.sagepub.com/ http://www.sagepub.com/

  • 8/18/2019 Tropical Variants of Sustainable Archit

    4/47

    National University Singapore

    Copyright ©2013 SAGE knowledge

    Page 4 of 47 The SAGE Handbook of Architectural Theory: Tropical Variants of Sustainable Architecture: A

    Postcolonial Perspective SAGE knowledge

    architecture created then. In the second section, I examine neo-traditional tropical

    architecture as an alternative path of development in relation to the perceived failure of the post-World-War-II development regime and the rejection of modern tropical architecture produced under that regime. I look at how the traditional is imbued with the ecological. I will also review criticisms of this ‘invention’ of tradition, especially its elitism and its reproduction of colonial notions of tropicality. In the final section, I examine the self-help tropical architecture of squatter settlements in Indonesia in relation to how they address the social dimensions of sustainability, and I also examine them in relation to the governmental rationality of the global neoliberal regime in capacity building and producing self-reliant subjects.

    I. Green Developmentalism, Ecological Modernization, and Tropical Sustainable Architecture

    If one looks at the tenth award cycle, 2005–2007, of the AKAA, the winners from Singapore and Malaysia – the Moulmein Rise Residential Tower designed by WOHA Architects and University of Technology Petronas designed by Foster and Partners – give the impression that sustainable architecture in the tropics is merely an extension of that elsewhere, differentiated only by climatic variations. Both projects are not untypical of recent large-scale sustainable architecture elsewhere; the Moulmein Rise Residential Tower is a high-rise condominium development targeted at the high-end housing market segment while the University of Technology Petronas is a new university established by Malaysia's state petroleum company to help the nation produce technologists and engineers to drive the nation's economy forward.

    [p. 604 ↓ ]

    The Moulmein Rise Residential Tower was primarily lauded by the jury for addressing

    ‘the challenges of the tropical climates’ by successfully adopting passive cooling strategies for the high-rise residential typology, while the University of Technology Petronas was applauded for its ‘contemporary reinterpretation of the classic metaphor

    http://knowledge.sagepub.com/ http://www.sagepub.com/

  • 8/18/2019 Tropical Variants of Sustainable Archit

    5/47

    National University Singapore

    Copyright ©2013 SAGE knowledge

    Page 5 of 47 The SAGE Handbook of Architectural Theory: Tropical Variants of Sustainable Architecture: A

    Postcolonial Perspective SAGE knowledge

    for tropical architecture – an umbrella that offers protection from the sun and rain’(AKAA

    2007). These two projects appear to continue the trend started by Menara Mesiniaga, a project designed by Hamzah and Yeang, which was an AKAA winner of the sixth award cycle in 1995. Menara Mesiniga is an office tower designed as a ‘showcase building’ for the agent of IBM in Malaysia. The standard office tower typology was reinterpreted through the incorporation of bioclimatic architectural features, such as the spiralling terraced garden balconies, sun-shading devices, and naturally ventilated

    spaces (Menara Mesiniaga 1995).2 Seen in the larger context of the Singapore and Malaysia governments' recent initiatives in encouraging sustainable architec