What is Tropical Architecture?

Tropical architecture is a variation of architecture in the tropics adapted to the subtropical climate. The main objective of tropical architecture is that sustainably constructed buildings fit into the tropical environment and cope with the tropical climate as much as possible.

The characteristics of tropical architecture are mainly due to the subtropical climate. To cope with the high temperatures and strong sunlight, buildings with tropical architecture mainly need to provide shade. This can be achieved by the tension roof. This means that the roof area is larger than the building area to provide shade. Triangular roofs are another common method of heat dissipation. The main reason for this is that they develop very fast thermal insulation, which prevents the sun’s heat from entering directly into the room. Building triangular roofs are common, especially in traditional houses.

In order to cope not only with the heat but also with the high humidity in tropical regions, natural ventilation must also be taken into account. For this purpose, cross ventilation is usually used in tropical buildings, where the air is supplied from one side of the building and exhausted from the opposite side. In this way, wind pressure can be created naturally. If you want to know more about how tropical architecture deals with tropical climates, read our blog article about it.

Also, it is important to orient your building as much as possible to the sunlight, which mainly concerns the windows of the house.

With tropical architecture, the choice of materials must also be carefully considered. Indeed, the tropical climate is quite harsh for the materials. Therefore, they must bring properties that insulate well heat, ventilate well and also withstand the rain. In addition to these criteria, sustainability also plays a major role. Renewable raw materials such as wood and bamboo are a common choice here.

Of course, this was only a rough overview of the characteristics of tropical architecture. This is because every architect builds his tropical house according to his own ideas and wishes, which is why there is no status quo in architecture. To give you more perspectives on the characteristics of tropical architecture, we asked architects who successfully build tropical houses how they would summarize tropical architecture. Read their responses below!


How would you define tropical architecture?

Tropical architecture is that which is within the tropical belt of the world and normally comprehends areas north and south of the equator this response to the tropical climate traditionally meaning similar strategies to create comfort in very rainy, hot, and even jungle areas with intense vegetation and humidity.

The architecture then comes in to address issues of cross-ventilation solar and rain protection through long overhands and a deep connection to the outside due to the constant temperature of that biological and climatological region.

It is interesting to note that the response of architecture thousands of years ago of houses in Asia and those in Central America are very similar even though these cultures have never spoken to each other.

This means that humans respond intuitively to their climate creating dwellings and structures that not only use their local materials available in the region but also, respond to create the most amount of comfort in the world that they inhabit. Very similar to animals adapting to their climate in order to adapt.

Benjamin G. Saxe

Founder and Design Director, Studio Saxe

Tropical architecture is that which is profoundly rooted in a complex and capricious site. A site where nature prevails and architecture is only a discrete gesture that stands amongst the landscape. A contained space that is quiet enough to acknowledge the rocking trees, the smell of heavy rain, and the textures of a silky breeze.


Architectue Studio

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