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Building Design and Performance in Tropical Climates

Special issue call for papers from Structural Survey

Structural Survey: Journal of Building Pathology and Refurbishment is pleased to announce a call for papers for a special issue devoted to examining the challenges surrounding the creation and use of buildings in tropical climates.

This special issue is guest-edited by Prof. Mike Riley, (Liverpool John Moores University, UK). Dr. Sr Zuraini Md. Ali and Prof Adjung Datok Badaruddin Mat Isa (University of Malaya, Malaysia).


Introduction to the special issue theme

The creation and use of buildings in tropical climates pose specific challenges to designers, surveyors, constructors, facilities managers and occupiers. Traditional approaches to dealing with the challenges of tropical climates exploited natural materials and vernacular design approaches. However, as the nature of buildings and their construction form have become more internationally uniform, different approaches and design features have evolved to allow buildings to perform in different climatic conditions.

The impact of potentially hostile tropical conditions upon building pathology and the durability of components, structure and fabric can be significant.  Building surveying, maintenance and management must take in to account these issues in order to diagnose and develop solutions to building defects. At the same time, the use and occupation of buildings must be approached in a manner that ensures appropriate functionality and achievement of performance expectations on the part of developers and occupiers.Challenges associated with the sustainability of the built environment have become widely recognised in terms of urban development, building form and whole life performance. The context of these issues in a tropical setting presents unique demands on built environment professionals as they seek to respond to these challenges. 

Alongside the increasingly rapid pace of development in many tropical countries there is the will to conserve the heritage that is manifested within the existing and historic built environment. The technology of such buildings ranges immensely and the task which faces those responsible for appraising their design, condition, maintenance, conservation and use differs fundamentally from that faced by those developing contemporary urban environments capable of delivering the needs of modern commerce and society.  Innovative approaches to surveying, building pathology, design, refurbishment, project management, property management, and maintenance and facilities management afford the opportunity to conserve and enhance existing buildings and to create new buildings and facilities that are fit for purpose and sustainable in a tropical setting.

It is important to recognise that the nature of property as a global asset has the potential to result in a degree of homogeneity in the form and function of modern real estate.  It is essential that buildings are considered in terms of their local context with reference to the impact of challenging climates. Many of the features that are expected by building occupiers in terms of comfort and internal environmental quality are directly opposed to the natural principles of sustainable design and construction.  Evaluative mechanisms such as post-occupancy evaluation needs to be cautious of this.  The perspectives and skill sets of professionals seeking to recognise and address such challenges must be informed by in depth understanding of the underlying principles of building pathology and performance. Approaches to meeting these challenges need to be balanced against the economic constraints, competing priorities, cultural issues and aesthetic tastes of people and society in tropical environments.


Special issue scope

This special issue seeks to capture some of the ground breaking research and creative practice in the area of building surveying, design, refurbishment, construction and management in tropical regions. It will enhance the debate around these issues by attracting original contributions in the area that also embed knowledge and understanding of buildings, the built environment and built environment practice in a tropical context.

The following themes are particularly encouraged across the range of buildings (residential, commercial and industrial), neighbourhoods and the wider built environment:

  • Case studies of building performance in tropical climates
  • Building defects and pathology in tropical regions
  • Design and specification of buildings for optimum whole life performance in challenging climates
  • Improved sustainability or conservation through remodelling and refurbishment
  • Post-occupancy evaluation of behaviours and perceptions of environment 
  • Design of climate resilient buildings and innovations in technology and materials
  • Facilities management and challenges of maintaining buildings in challenging climates
  • Property management for real estate assets in tropical climates

This list is not exhaustive and interested authors are encouraged to contact the Guest Editors with alternative proposals. Original papers that reflect on and proffer strategic directions and their implications for the built environment are welcome.



The closing date for submissions is:  30th June 2014

All full papers submitted are subject to anonymous double-blind peer review by relevant academics and researchers.

Submissions to Structural Survey are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts, the online submission and peer review system. Registration and access are available at: (NOTE: In step 4, in the section which states “please select the type of issue”, please select “Building Design and Performance in Tropical Climates” from the dropdown list).

For detailed Author Guidelines click here and further information on the journal, please visit


Want to know more?

If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Noora Kokkarinen at: 

Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Research Institute
School of Built Environment
Byrom Street Campus
Liverpool John Moores University
L3 3AF
[email protected]