Tropical Modernity: A Hybrid-Construct in South China


  • Rui Leão
  • Charles Lai




Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


Parallel to the discourse of Tropical Architecture and the work of UK architects in the British colonial territories in the Middle East, Africa, and India after the WWII, climate adaptation designs or devices such as brise-soleil, perforated cement bricks, sun shading screens, courtyards, etc., started to emerge in modernist buildings in Asia. This article is a preliminary survey of these cases in Hong Kong and Macau since the 1950s. It discusses how tropicality was used in response to the post-war revisionism of Modern Movement that placed emphasis on local identity and culture.

How to Cite

Leão, R., & Lai, C. (2021). Tropical Modernity: A Hybrid-Construct in South China. Docomomo Journal, (63), 56–61.




Author Biographies

Rui Leão

Born in São Tomé e Príncipe. Received his Architecture degree from FAUP and completed his PhD from RMIT Australia. Runs a practice based in Macau, recipient of the Arcasia Golden Medal and the UNESCO Asia- Pacific Jury Commendation for Innovation in 2012. He is President of CIALP and Chair of docomomo Macau.

Charles Lai

Graduated from the University of Hong Kong, Department of Architecture and AA School of Architecture in London. Charles is a member of docomomo Hong Kong and his work focuses on the history, material culture, and technology of a cement plaster called Shanghai Plaster in East and Southeast Asia, as well as the conservation of historical built heritage.


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