21 December 2015
The tropics as an outpost of architectural design, as an ideal place to try out the most advanced engineering and technological solutions, as well as to put on show the most spectacular creations of interior decorators and designers. This is the first thing that comes to mind thumbing through the 304 pages of the volume Living Under the Sun: Tropical Interiors and Architecture, edited by Michelle Galindo, Robert Klanten, Sofia Borges and Sven Ehmann: an annotated collection of photographs of marvelous houses built in tropical latitudes. From the beaches of Central America to the jungles of Southeast Asia, from Brazil to Thailand, from Latin America to Australia, a survey of country houses, studios and luxury retreats designed by international talents. Among them: the Brazilians Paulo Mendes da Rocha, former winner of the Pritzker Prize, and Isay Weinfeld, the Australians Klopper & Davis, the Cypriots Kythreotis Architects, the Indians SPASM Design Architects and the Chilean Pezo von Ellrichshausen studio. All the buildings speak of excellence of construction and invention. And if the common thread is always the symbiosis between house and out-of-the-ordinary natural scenery, the solutions never cease to amaze, since the desire to mediate between tradition and innovation responds to factors and stimuli that are always different. A major part is played, in all the designs, by the intention to adapt local techniques and use indigenous materials: as in the house at Santo Domingo designed by Joaquín Torres of A-CERO, clad with Coralina, a stone extracted from fossil coral reefs that is able to keep the building cool even under the most intense sunlight; or in SPASM’s House Cast in Liquid Stone, constructed out of a mix of water, sand, cement and a local basalt that allows the building to blend into the landscape; or again in the Redux House, designed by Marcio Kogan of Studio MK27 on the outskirts of São Paulo and structured around a central patio that favors natural ventilation, using locally sourced materials: clay for the tiles, wood for the ceilings and for the dividing walls of the rooms. A lot of outstanding examples that show how architecture can be placed at the service of wellbeing and living in harmony with nature. Published by Gestalten.