Within the monsoon cultural and geographical region, architecture is constantly trying to resolve the debate between standardised international architecture & standardised local vernacular. This statement perfectly summarise the intention of the ‘Living Monsoon’ series. Over the next two days, Cochin, India is scheduled to bear witness to a significant gathering of astute architectural minds. ‘Living Monsoon’ is a series of carefully curated discussion—or deliberations—on the specifics of the nature and style of architecture and urbanism in the tropical monsoon areas of the world.
The conference is the culmination of a two-year undertaking by the Cochin Chapter of the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA). This is not just a comment on eco-sensitive or green buildings, but a very specific look at buildings constructed in regions that experience high precipitation and share the same climate, environment and bio-diversity.
Broadly, the area in discussion includes all major regions adjoining the Indian Ocean, such as the entire west coast of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Philippines, Fiji, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, as well as the central and southeast regions of Africa, such as Madagascar, and the northwest areas of South America.
With ‘Design Talks’ IIA hopes to be a catalyst in influencing the direction of architectural thinking and practice in the monsoon ridden parts of the world. The panel includes Malaysian architect Dr. Ken Yeang, who has been building eco-sensitive skyscrapers for more than two decades. Alongside are Dhaka-born Kashef Chowdhury, whose studio practice has a strong historical footing with an emphasis on material, climate, as well as the natural context. Tay Kheng Soon, best known for his ‘rubanisation’ hypothesis—an idea that envisages the city and the countryside as one space—brings his years of experience and expertise to the table. David Schafer, practicing out of Thailand is best known for his synthesis on design and construction. He maintains, “there is no distinct boundary between the act of design and the act of construction.”