"Tropics 2050"

Date: 12-14 December 2012 (Wednesday – Friday)
Venue: SDE - NUS

Organized and hosted by Centre for Advanced Studies in Architecture,
Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore.


About iNTA 2012

Etymologically, "Tropic" (from Latin tropus, Greek tropos) refers not only to either one of the two latitudes on earth that constitute the boundaries of the tropical zone, but "Tropic" also means a turning point, a limit or a boundary (Oxford English Dictionary). By choosing "Tropics 2050" as the theme for iNTA 2012, we are conjoining "Tropics" as a spatial entity with "Tropic" as a temporal notion, i.e. a particular moment in time that represents a critical turning point.

According to various reports and predictions, the year 2050 will represent that critical turning point in the history of humankind. However, the socio-environmental projections for 2050 are divided. On the positive side, 2050 is expected to be the year that G8 would halve greenhouse gas emissions and global warming would be stabilized without exceeding an increase of two degrees Celsius. On the negative side, 2050 represents the year that global population is projected to reach nine billion and existing environmental problems exacerbated. World Wildlife Fund even predicted that planet Earth would not have sufficient resources to sustain human life by 2050.

Whether apocalyptic or optimistic, these divisive projections highlight the socio-environmental challenges that our current mode of socio-economic development is facing. Will we be able to wean ourselves of our fossil fuel addiction? Can we shift to a low-carbon socio-economic future and avert irreversible changes to our planetary ecosystem? Will we be able to stop over-exploiting our natural resources and prevent their premature depletion? Are we able to also address the socio-environmental inequities that our current modes of economic development and resource use are creating? How can we develop socio-ecological resilience to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change?

By choosing "Tropics 2050" as the theme for iNTA 2012, we ask researchers, designers, educators and professionals across different disciplines working on the built environment at different scales to share with us their researches and findings on the above issues and questions. To think critically about the future is not to engage in futurology but to reconsider our present practices, i.e. to reflect on, to interrogate and perhaps to present alternatives to our existing paradigm of design, building, planning and engineering. In order to reconsider our present, we may have to reexamine our past practices and learn from our cultural traditions.

In emphasizing the tropics and the tropical, we see iNTA as a forum for voices and perspectives both from and on the tropical belt. Historically the use of "tropical" does not merely designate a different climatic zone from the temperate North, it is also used euphemistically to denote a region of socio-economic backwardness and cultural otherness. Much of the social, economic and cultural differences between the tropical South and the temperate North persist till today and are accentuated in the debate on climate change. Together with the fact that contemporary discourses on built environment in relation to sustainability and climate change continued to be dominated by those from the temperate North, we see voices and perspectives from and on the tropics as presenting valuable alternative viewpoints, addressing oft-ignored issues and raising incisive questions.

[more about iNTA 2012 themes and submission]