Review: Modern Tropical: Houses in the Sun

Get lost in the pages of a good book—it’s the soul of any room.

A fine celebration of tropical modernist projects from the last half-decade, this lush new volume provides a soothing summer escape into an aesthetic and lifestyle celebrated both for its simplicity and its affiliation with aspiration. As Hawes suggests, “Tropical modernism encompasses myriad styles, cultures, concepts and materialities; combining them into a cohesive ethos. One that honours nature as it respects and furthers architectural theory. That interprets light and shadow with subtle and lyrical results. That derives great complexity and sophistication through gentle restraint.” Embracing this diversity, this book is a welcome immersion into the power of place.

Organised in six sections that present 35 homes in North America, the Caribbean and Central America, South America, Africa, southeast Asia and the Pacific, the book includes colour photography, a floor plan and a brief summary of the highlights and history of each project.

Highlights include: Kimball House in the Dominican Republic – by Rangr Studio; Dalton House in Kenya – by Alberto Morell; and a retreat in the Sahyadris (Western Ghats) in India – by Khosla Associates. The volume ends with a profile of each architect, an often-overlooked feature that is immensely helpful to readers.

A grand excursion via armchair, this lovely read is as much a welcome travel tome as it is a record of contemporary architecture’s embrace of tropical modernism.

Written by Byron Hawes, edited by Oscar Riera Ojeda