Tropical Architecture is a concept that was developed in the mid of 19th century, to integrate the modern practices of ‘west’ with the ‘non-western’ world. This movement was initiated through books, journals and conferences, primarily from London, with the aim to support the architects and developers of the underdeveloped sites where the conditions were found to be difficult (Roux, 2003).
This spread of architectures is closely associated with the communication and climatic design in the tropics. Through provision of the technical support, education and other forms of promotions, the concept of tropical architecture was established. The movement was specially targeted in the localities of Western Africa, where the development of all forms of infrastructure greatly benefited from the expertise as well as other resources of the modern world.
In the Britain’s West African Colonies of Nigeria and Ghana, the foundation of colonial system’s infrastructure was designed by the architectural partnerships, Fry and Drew, Cubitt, Koenigsberger and various other researchers. These influential figures worked extremely hard throughout their careers to provide a platform, enabling a characterization of a world between modern and colonial systems. Primary research and developments works such as efficient planning of towns and villages, educational buildings, residential as well commercial buildings, and planning for the governmental infrastructure was completed (Fry and Drew, 1964). These works of 1950s had an influential impact on the production of architectural network, as apparent from the modern West African architectural standing.
Much of the this movement of tropical architectures has been based on its durability, and the constructed buildings of that era are now more than 50 years old and are still in use (Uduku, 2004). The recent construction techniques adopted in the West Africa today requires re-consideration of the practices tropical era, along with the adaptation of sustainable practices. The requirement of this re-evaluation is quite demanding as it vital to design infrastructure which can perform well in accordance with the regional / local conditions (primarily environmental and climatic conditions). Various issues such as environmental concerns, climate, and consultation with local bodies remain absent in the current architectural system. Moreover, the advancement in technologies in the transportation systems, networking, sustainable construction techniques and worldwide regulation on climate acts etc have put considerable pressure around the globe to review the current practices of infrastructure development (Uduku, 2004).
This essay intent to investigate the work completed by the influential figures such as Fry & Drew and to analyze the impact their work successfully created in the region of West Africa, especially in the development of education institutes in Nigeria. Moreover, comprehensive literature review of tropical architecture movement, the concept of institutional radicalization along with the state development processes in West Africa will be presented. Logos, known as the city of concrete, the most populated city in Nigeria and the second fastest-growing city in Africa, will be discussed in light of the architectural progression, foot prints after independence and the need for sustainable architecture as per the modern requirements.
Through this research, recommendations with respect to the need of transformation in the current architectural practices in Western Africa will be outlined. There is strong evidence that the activities of tropical architecture movement in western Africa was highly beneficial, and further research shall be aimed to address the current era’s issues of architecture in the subject locality.
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Fry, E. M. and Drew, J., (1964). Tropical Architecture in the Humid Zones London, Batsford.
Koenigsberger, (1982). Early days abroad, The Architects’ Journal (1982), July 7, p. 37
Peil, M., (1991). Lagos, the city and its people. London: Belhaven Press.
Roux, H. (2003). The networks of tropical architecture',The Journal of Architecture, 8:3,pp. 337 — 354
Uduku, O., (2004). Modernist architecture and ‘the tropical’ in West Africa: The tropical architecture movement in West Africa, 1948–1970, pp. 1-15.
Uduku, O. (1996). The urban fabric of Igbo architecture in South–Eastern Nigeria in the 1990s. Habitat International, 20(2), 191–202.
West African Builder and Architect, (WABA), (1964a). Elder dempster, Lagos. WABA, 4(6), 110–113, 130.