Tropical Architecture You’ll Love

After spending most of the summer in linen and sandals, I’ve decided that I also needed more summery architecture. Which brought me to some of the most summer-like homes and buildings I could find. And I want them.

DC’s nearly tropical climate brings out my a thriving sensation for sand and surf, or anything tropical. It also makes me think of open houses that—unlike most DC residencies—have open space that allows for airflow. My prerequisites were big windows that were easily movable, big airy spaces, and at least one palm tree within the design schema. I wanted to bring the tropics to me—or at least take a peek.

While beach houses are famous for these combinations, I found a few other hot weather venues that weren’t on the beach, but still offered some tropical vibes (and cooler sleeping arrangements!) Feel them out and maybe you’ll also bring some ideas back to us in DC.

The Viceroy Hotel in Ubud, Indonesia

The Viceroy Hotel in Ubud, Indonesia

Let’s start with Baller in Bali. I love, love, LOVE this one. I want to go there, like NOW. Infinity pool that looks over a cliff and complementary limousine to the airport. Bali’s no longer a last corner on the globe. This area, a strip along several rivers called Abud on Bali is dotted with dozens of resorts—and endless infinity pools. It’s their shtick, I guess.

Ubud, Indonesia

Ubud, Indonesia

The next one is a house that doesn’t even really look like a house. It has almost no walls, and it seems more like an outdoor patio than a home. But there is actually a series of retractable glass windows/doors that wrap around this entire public area. Lest you think it’s entirely for exhibitionists—which it still very well may be—the private bedroom area is secluded in a perpendicular wing. However, “old design from the 50s with no second floor!!” you may say? Nay—revolutionary design to accommodate a uniquely open plan within four walls of a gated lot.

Casa V4

Casa V4

Casa V4

Casa V4

I think this may be one of the most interesting designs I’ve ever seen—ever. It’s on a mountain side along the Bay of Thailand. So points for original location. It doesn’t have a floor. Rather, it’s bamboo structure is mounted at several points. Points for engineering. And it’s actually designed to look like a manta ray, with long wispy tail and all. Points for style.

Children's Activity and Learning Center at Thailand Resort

Children’s Activity and Learning Center at Thailand Resort, thanks to

The entire interior is a latticework of bubbles, pseudo-interior spaces, walkways and what looks like a miniature amphitheater set of staircases in the middle. It’s a children’s activity and learning center at a resort in the area. It’s designed to give kids a unique view of the environment. Awww… points for purpose.



This one is what got me thinking about the topic of tropical architecture this time around. It’s lightweight design takes advantage of the tropical climate of the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico. Or rather, it just minimally protects you from the elements. It’s a combination of steel and concrete panels that integrates the surrounding vegetation in an incredibly organic way for a square building.

Casa Itzimna, Yucutan Peninsula, Mexico

Casa Itzimna, Yucutan Peninsula, Mexico

reyes-rios-larrain-arquitectos-casa-itzimna-merida-mexico-designboom-15-818x545 reyes-rios-larrain-arquitectos-casa-itzimna-merida-mexico-designboom-13-818x546

The last one here is also polished concrete, metal and wood. The open areas between the main building and the garage make the difference between inside and outside seem seamless—which is crucial for any truly tropical-feeling building. Known as the “Jewell Box,” it’s filled with clean lines and metal trim, but its wooden ceilings and floors, wide open windows, and even more open floor plan makes it feel tropical.


The point of all these homes is that you don’t necessarily have to be on a million dollar beach to feel tropical. And while most of these places are actually in the tropics or other warm climes, they’ve got plenty of architectural patterns that we can all dabble in to make our own homes feel more tropical even in the depths of winter.

If you’re feeling tropical, and feeling warm, think about ways that cross ventilate your house/apartment/studio. Add some plants, put some wood accents around. All of a sudden you’ll feel like you’re in the tropics, too!

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