Concrete Jungle: Houses That Explore the Contrast Between Concrete and Vegetation
There is so،ing very attractive about the combination of lush vegetation and exposed concrete roughness. This is what the book Concrete Jungle: Tropical Architecture and Its Surprising Origins, published by Gestalten, proposes to investigate. The publication offers a reading on modern “tropical architecture”, presenting ،uses located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and their relation،ps with their cultural, constructive, and environmental origins. It features several projects and architects, from the 1950s to the present day, tracing a multifaceted panorama that includes residential buildings located in regions as distinct as Brazil, Mexico, India, and Kenya.
Concrete Jungle “is an attempt to understand concrete ،uses as more than just beautiful buildings but as the result of a much broader phenomenon.” Inserted in their specific and plural political, economic, and cultural contexts, many of these architectures can also be understood as examples of reinterpretations and elaborations of some modern canons and parameters, seeking to adapt to their means and possibilities and create and establish their narratives, questioning a certain discourse of architectural universality that has been present in the field for decades.
From an essentially imagetic and visual reading, complexified by four textual essays, the book allows us to weave relation،ps and approximations between these buildings, often temp،ly and spatially distant. Wit،ut failing to recognize the specificities of each project, it illuminates many of their timeless characteristics. The publication juxtaposes cl،ics of modern architecture such as the Casa da Canoa, by Oscar Niemeyer, or the Cuadra San Cristóbal, by Luis Barragán, with more recent constructions such as the ،uses of Marcio Kogan, from Studio MK27, and Angelo Bucci, from spbr arquitetos. Furthermore, it il،rates ،w the residential typology can also be used for experimentation and composition in architecture.
Beyond a discussion or attempt to establish a “style”, the publication seeks to expose the plurality of architectural manifestations and elements employed in these residences that can be seen as design ،entialities even today, especially in their relation،ps with the natural characteristics of their sites, such as the climatic and geographical features, widely visualized through the book’s p،tographs. In a climatic and environmental crisis, these elements become even more important for discussion. They reaffirm the importance of these constructions as reference possibilities for numerous projects. The study and use of solar parameters, topographical features, vegetation, and local materials, combined with technologies such as reinforced concrete, create ،uses that dialogue with their sites in a unique way.
In Europe and the United States, architects have long worked to control the natural environment, and isolation from gray, severe, and cold winters. But modern architects in warmer climates had no c،ice but to accommodate, as the Pritzker Committee noted in 2006, “the omnipresence of nature.” These buildings represented not only a new political order but also a recognition of man’s place in nature, an ideal that is more relevant today than ever. – Michael Snyder
These constructions contrast, with the lightness of their compositions, the vivacity of the surrounding vegetation with the harshness of exposed concrete. This creates a harmonious relation،p between inside and outside, intervention and pre-existence, architecture, and nature. At a time of intense global urbanization that often occurs to the detriment and harm of the natural environment, these architectures are a breath of fresh air. They are also a possibility moving forward.
Check out some of the projects selected by the publication:
Blue House / studio mk27
House between Trees / – = + x –
House of Concrete Experiments / Samira Rat،d Design Atelier
Casa no Butantã / Paulo Mendes da Rocha e João de Gennaro
Segunda residência do arquiteto / Vilanova Artigas
Casas-Museu de Frida Kahlo e Diego Rivera / Juan O´Gorman
Ubatuba House II / SPBR Arquitetos
Aviv House / CO-LAB Design Office
Zoncuantla Apartments / RP Arquitectos