West Africa - Wesley Girls' Secondary School, Cape Coast West Africa - Staff House, Mfantsipim West Africa - School Girls West Africa - Climatic Regions. From 'Tropical Architecture' By Fry, Drew (Batsford 1956)

About this talk

Running time: 29 minutes

The late Maxwell Fry - pioneer of the Modern Movement in architecture in Britain and Royal Gold Medallist- was working in West Africa in the 1940s and 1950s with his wife/partner Jane Drew. New conditions made the traditional, annually-renewed, mud and thatch of African villages inappropriate. New materials had to be considered. They experienced for the first time the difficulty of protecting buildings from the sun, colossal heat, extreme humidity and near horizontal heavy rain.

In the process of dealing with these and other problems, they developed a series of rule-of-thumb solutions which have since become the norm for tropical building. This produced a quite new kind of architecture that responded to tropical conditions, harnessing nature even for 'air-conditioning' a university library.

In Chandigarh, where Fry and Drew worked with Le Corbusier in the 1950s, the same principles applied, except that here the sun proved a greater enemy than humidity. Additionally, there was a dust-laden breeze to contend with.

Fry and Drew's recipe for a future in which energy sources are drying up is that we must learn to obey Nature's laws. "We have come to the end of the era of the faceless box completely supplied with artificial climate and artificial light".

This is Fry's first talk for us, his second being How Modern Architecture Came To England.

Please note that a transcript of this talk is available - please contact us for further details.

Maxwell Fry

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