Tropical Modernism at the V&A

21.03.2024

Tropical Modernism at the V&A

21.03.2024

The just-opened Tropical Modernism exhibition at the V&A explores a facet of International Modernism that emerged in Britain during the late 1940s amid anti-colonial struggles in India and West Africa. Pioneered by architects Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry, it adapted Modernist principles to tropical climates. The exhibit showcases its colonial origins in British West Africa and evolution into a symbol of independence in post-colonial nations like India and Ghana.

The exhibition highlights significant figures and moments in Tropical Modernism, featuring artefacts, models, drawings, and photos. “A Revolution in Architecture” focuses on Drew and Fry’s innovative approach to tropical challenges, notably in Ghana. “Hidden Figures” explores African architects’ contributions and European appropriation of African motifs. “Temples of Modern India” documents their work in Chandigarh, commissioned by Jawaharlal Nehru. French architect Le Corbusier was also involved.

“The Legacy of Tropical Modernism” offers an immersive experience, including a three-screen film shot in Ghana. The film features iconic buildings such as the Community Centre in Accra by Fry and Drew. The film also includes interviews with key figures, such as architect Owusu-Addo and politician Samia Nkrumah, providing valuable insights into the historical context and enduring significance of Tropical Modernism’s architecture.

This show is a comprehensive presentation of Modernism in West Africa and India for those interested in architecture.

Tropical Modernism at the V&A, London. Until 22 September 2024