School of Architecture

Hosted by

UQ School of Architecture


Thursday 5 December 2019 6:30pm to Sunday 8 December 2019 2:00pm


Advanced Engineering Building 

The University of Queensland

St Lucia QLD 4072


Registrations for this event are now closed


The Conference

The cities and urban centres of the tropics and sub-tropics are where the greatest challenges facing our collective future can be found. They are where the challenges of global warming, inequality and the migration of people fleeing political unrest or climate change are at their most extreme. 

For those who live in the “global south,” there is a sense of urgency about the challenges arising from rapidly changing climate conditions. Matters are not merely academic, but dynamic and concrete. Before the launch of iNTA, discourse around architecture and urbanism in the tropics was framed by centres of scholarship in Europe and North America. The aftermath of devastating tropical storms such as Maria and Irma (2017) in the Caribbean and Typhoon Haima (2016) in the Philippines challenges this hegemony. 

The 2019 Urban Tropicality Conference provides a forum to discuss architectural and design solutions for a resilient, smart and just future for urban centres in the tropics. Hosted this year by The University of Queensland, the 2019 Urban Tropicality conference is the 7th meeting of the International Network of Tropical Architecture (iNTA) and will provide a networking platform for international researchers and practitioners to collaborate and learn from each other about problems and solutions pertaining to architecture and urban design in the tropical (and sub-tropical) regions. The 2019 iNTA conference in Brisbane brings discourse to a sub-tropical city at the crossroads of cultures, regions and climate zones. It provides an opportunity to enhance north-south and south-south dialogue at a time when Australia’s role in the region continues to be questioned.

As this year's conference location, Brisbane is proximate to both the fastest growing urban centres in Asia and many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) most at risk from climate change, including Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federal States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Niue and Tuvalu amongst others. Queensland’s most northern extremity, Cape York, sits at the confluence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, those very same oceans that generate the weather systems that circle the globe and affect the destiny of millions of people.

Conference Streams

Tropical Architecture refers to constructed architectural and urban environments relating the climatic and natural conditions of the tropical (and sub- tropical) regions, and interacting with various local specifics of culture, urban fabric and technology. 

1. Tropical Urbanism

Stream focussing on challenges to and solutions for enhanced liveability in urban centres of the tropics. Papers might address: projects or propositions for reversing or healing the degradation and collapse of urban centres under rapid growth; urban infrastructures at risk: rising sea-levels, increasing storm intensity, expanding torridity and aridity. urban adaptation responses : design planning policy, governance and codes urban forms shaped by determinants other than climate alone, such as topography, nature, cultural life. vegetation in (sub) tropical cities: cultivation in gardens and the peri-urban or neglect in terrain vague.

2. Tropical Architecture: Contemporary Tropical-isms

Stream focussing on individual designs/ architectural, infrastructure, adaptation projects. What is it that makes the contemporary architectural project tropical? Or the tropical project contemporary? Papers might illuminate projects that demonstrate instances of:

  • building technologies: tropical and subtropical applications including
    • passive low energy and carbon neutral architecture
    • climate mitigation strategies
    • equity in the tropical city
    • the (sub)tropical tower
    • contemporary architecture (still) learning from vernacular traditions
    • reciprocities/dialogue between architecture and tropical environments: between the zeitgeist of a globalized culture and a project’s specific circumstance.

3. Narratives of Disease, Discomfort, Development & Disaster: Reconsidering (sub)Tropical Architecture & Urbanism

The idea of tropical architecture and urbanism initially developed through a particular connection between discourses on disease, spatial practices and optimum architectural typologies, which were believed to circumvent the spread of tropical diseases and to maintain the comfort of the white settler. After the Second World War, the focus shifted from the European settlement of the colonial tropics to the self-development and governance of the world’s tropical regions; a phenomenon necessitated and propelled by post-war decolonization and global regimes of development aid. Accompanying this change was a shift away from the physiological comfort of the colonial settler to a new focus on indigenous cultures, vernacular building traditions, use of local materials, and increasing appreciation for the psychological value of cultural conventions, including superstition and taboo. The aim of this stream is to examine how “triumph” in the tropics was imagined across multiple geographies, by various subjects, through diverse discourses, and at different times and to critically investigate the roles architecture and urban planning played in this process. We particularly welcome papers that offer historical case studies of tropical and subtropical architecture and urbanism examined through one of four lenses:

  • disease
  • discomfort
  • development
  • and disaster.

Stream convened by Dr Deborah van der Plaat (The University of Queensland), Dr Vandana Baweja (University of Florida) and Professor Tom Avermaete (ETH Zurich). Click here for more information

4. Historic Urban Landscapes and Tropicality

The Historic Urban Landscape is a new approach recommended by UNESCO that recognises and positions the historic city and its core as a resource for the future and the centre for the urban development process. Papers might address:

  • operational principles for urban conservation models: respecting values, traditions and environments of different cultural contexts.
  • historic urban centres and tropical vulnerability
  • mapping urban heritage values and attributes
  • planning, design and implementation of development projects in historic urban centres
  • adaptive use and re-use impacting authenticity and integrity of physical and social fabric in historic urban centres
  • Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Pacific and Caribbean: their vulnerability and resilience

All abstracts will be considered by the conference academic committee; authors will be invited to prepare a full paper (no longer than 4,500 words); authors wishing their papers to be published in conference proceedings should submit their final papers for peer review on or before 26 July 2019. The date for submission of final papers is 18 October 2019. Authors may choose to opt out of publication.


The University of Queensland St Lucia campus is located in a landscape setting on a bend in the Brisbane River, 8 kilometres upstream from the City of Brisbane. As iNTA 2019 is scheduled during a non-teaching period, reasonably priced on campus accommodation in Residential Colleges will be available to delegates. Rooms are available for $90/night and include full buffet breakfast. 

To register your accommodation request, please go to the Duchesne College Web Site by clicking on the link below and then follow the list of instructions -

  • Click on:
  • Top of the page, click on: Events and Accommodation
  • Scroll down the page to: Enquire Now
  • Click on the white box: Make a selection
  • Select: Specific -  Include 2019 INTA Conference
  • Complete all details and Submit

​For all accommodation enquiries, please contact: 
Jo Jager
(Conference & House Manager)
Duchesne College
T: 07 3377 2333
M: 0414 558 776

About iNTA 

Founded in Singapore in 2004, at the Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment at the National University Singapore under the leadership of Professor Johannes Widodo, the International Network for Tropical Architecture (iNTA) is a networking platform for international researchers and practitioners to collaborate and learn from each other about problems and solutions pertaining to architecture and urban design in the tropical and sub-tropical regions. The network addresses issues arising from the interaction between climatic and natural conditions of the tropical (and sub- tropical) regions and various local specifics of culture, urban fabric and technology in the formation of architectural and urban environments. iNTA was founded in Singapore in 2004 by academics at the National University of Singapore. The network meets every two years and has previously met in Singapore, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Bangkok, Thailand, Johor Bahru, Malaysia and most recently in 2017, in Gainesville, Florida.

Conference Committee 

The 2019 iNTA conference steering committee comprises:

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