We have established a small publishing arm of the Transnational Architecture Group called TAG Press. The purpose of the press is not to publish our scholarly reports and papers (which of course need full peer review) but to disseminate working group papers, photographic collections, catalogues and other such publications that are increasingly difficult to publish through commercial publishers.
Our first book is called ‘Fry and Drew: Tropical Source Book’ (ISBN 978-0-9557884-8-2) and contains over 200 pages of photographs, quotes and some scanned archival material. The aim was not to duplicate the work of our Ashgate publication, but rather to complement it and to release some of the wonderful photographs we have amassed to a wider audience. A short introduction sets the scene and the rest of the book contains photographs, supplemented by quotations, from India, West Africa and parts of the Middle East. A PDF version will be available shortly for download here.

If you would like to purchase the Source Book it is available at the special price of £10 plus p+p. Just click the Buy it Now button below to pay via paypal/creditcard

Tropical Source Book

The Architecture of Edwin Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew: Twentieth Century Architecture, Pioneer Modernism and the Tropics


Iain Jackson and Jessica Holland, published by Ashgate 2014, http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409451983

Book Review in Building Design Magazine:

“Book Club Review: The Architecture of Edwin Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew

It might be history, but this book can be read as a blueprint for architects working today, writes Nicholas de Klerk

This well-researched monograph sets outs its ambitions right from the start. Positing itself “between a biography, a select gazetteer and a social history” it may as easily be read as an account of the lives and careers of its two main protagonists, as a chronicle of the times within which they worked. And, as such, it can also be read as something of a blueprint for how architects (and architecture – which can be said to be in something of a crisis at present) might consider themselves and their practice.

Neither Fry nor Drew appeared to enter the profession with much in the way of connections or a map or model of how they might proceed. In the course of their working lives (both achievements and disappointments are comprehensively documented) there is a constant sense of learning and development. Deploying what I might call an entrepreneurial advocacy, both Fry and Drew looked outwards to the context in which they lived and worked, actively campaigning on what they perceived to be pertinent issues. This stands in stark contrast to the atomised, inward-looking model in common use today.

Inveterate networkers who made extensive use of the media, Fry and Drew also worked with a wide community of artists, engineers and other professionals, prefiguring the idea of collaboration that is taken for granted today. Each brought their own distinct contribution to developing a modernist language, clear evidence of which is visible in both joint and individual projects. Fry created skilled elevational compositions, incorporating materials and elements which bridged between vernacular and modern methods of construction.

Drew was ceaselessly inventive and experimental with materials, which was paired with a deep interest in and ability to work reciprocally with the end users of the buildings she designed. This is evident in most of their output, but particularly in their work in West Africa and later Chandigarh and the “tropical architecture” for which they are perhaps best known.

While their approach couldn’t be precisely described as a typically colonial “tabula rasa”, there appears to have been, initially at least, a deeply ingrained paternalism towards local history, traditions and politics which was only fully engaged where it segued neatly with their modernist impulse. This is but one example of a skilled ambivalence or ambiguity which, I would argue, characterised their oeuvre as a whole – an intrinsically political approach that architects grappling with today’s status quo might pay attention to. It is perhaps both the reason why their work may not have been as highly regarded as some of their peers, and also why it is ripe for reassessment – a task which is well served by this book.

Nicholas de Klerk is an associate at Aukett Swanke”

village housing

Village Housing in the Tropics with Special Reference to West Afrcia, by Jane Drew, Maxwell Fry and Harry Ford (new introduction by Iain Jackson)
Routledge, 2014, http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415645072/

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