Ideas for Contemporary Living

Tropical Modernism


Posted on December 20th, by David Bjorngaard in Here/There, Knowledge. No Comments

I’m excited to experience a bit of tropical modernism in Southeast Asia. While I’m extremely excited for the food, culture, world heritage sites, beaches, and down time half a world away, I’m also very excited to see how modernist respond to the climate, materials and culture in a tropical zone.  Here’s a couple of things I’m hoping to see.

An interior view of Park + Associates House 24.

A view of Park + Associates‘ House 24.

Inside Out. Adapting modernism to a tropical climate pushes the integration of indoor and outdoor (average LOW temperatures never fall below 75 degrees F in Singapore, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City).  Pilotis supporting columns free the perimeter of load bearing walls, allowing expanses of glass, moveable walls and shutters to open spaces, blurring boundaries. Pavilions, patios and expanse of water really do connect one to the elements.

A fountain and reflecting pool naturally cool the are in Park + Associates work.

A fountain and reflecting pool naturally cool the air in Park + Associates work.

Sliding window walls open this living area onto pool and garden in Enclosed Open House by Wallflower Architecture + Design

Sliding window walls open this living area onto pool and garden in Enclosed Open House by Wallflower Architecture + Design

Dining area in VTN Architects Atlas Hotel in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Dining area in VTN Architects Atlas Hotel in Hoi An, Vietnam.

Garden Spaces.Corbusier’s preference to rooftop gardens can be interpreted as gardens, everywhere.  Many local architects respond with vertical gardens, and multiple landings creating a vertical oasis.

Parkroyal's take on the roof-top garden in Singapore.

Parkroyal‘s take on the roof-top garden in Singapore.

I'll be relaxing by the pool.

I’ll be relaxing by the pool of this VTN Architects designed project.

Great circulation.  Did I mention the abundance of floating and spiral staircases in the work of Tropical Modernism that I’ve studied? These are great for allowing air to circulate.

I love this metal and wood combination in Bedmar & Shi's Chancery Lane house.

I love this metal and wood combination in Bedmar & Shi’s Chancery Lane house.

The Forever House in Singapore.

The Forever House in Singapore.

Open Floor Plan.Open spaces to allow tropical breezes, blurring distinctions of room and usage.  Interior passages ways allow heat and air to rise, creating soft breezes.

A centrally located staircase allows hot air to rise, and a green wall provides visual relief in a Wallflower Architecture + Design residence

A centrally located staircase allows hot air to rise, and a green wall provides visual relief in a Wallflower Architecture + Design residence

Sun Protection.Sun shades, cavity walls, light shelves, overhanging and cantilevered roofs, and other shading to block the sun allow for more comfortable environs.

Shutters screen the light without blocking the breeze.

Shutters filter light without blocking the breeze.

Public yet intimate. Private, calm and quiet areas are achieved through shutters, louvers and concealed roller shades, to provide connection to natural light and views.

Materials.To hold up to local climate and moisture, traditional materials that withstand climate are incorporated, including tropical wood and tile. And as in many modernist structures, concrete proves to be a durable, inexpensive and efficient.

I’ll see you back in San Francisco in 2019.

David Bjørngaard, December 2018

Check out what I’m up to at Bjørn Design.





What do you think?