Sustainable Tropical Urbanism: Insights from Cities of the Monsoonal Asia-Pacific




Sustainable Tropical Urbanism, tropical cities, place-based urbanism, climate change impacts, Monsoonal Asia-Pacific


The Tropics is experiencing the fastest growing urbanisation on the planet and faces serious sustainability issues. This introduction to the eTropic Special Issue on ‘Sustainable Tropical Urbanism’ calls for a notion of plural sustainabilities in order to critique how urban sustainability has mainly been developed in temperate zones and transferred to tropical regions; but also, to recognise shared aspects of the Tropics, including climate change and environmental challenges, as well as histories of colonialism and their continuing postcolonial cultural and socioeconomic effects on peoples of the Tropics and their futures. These threads are drawn together under a conceptual trio of Place, Past, and People in order to further explore these similarities and differences. Narrowing the focus to the monsoonal Asia-Pacific region, this Special Issue presents case studies from Khulna and Chittagong in Bangladesh; Singapore and the Indonesian city of Semarang in Southeast Asia; and the regional city of Cairns in tropical northeast Australia. This Special Issue of eTropic brings together research articles, scoping reviews and viewpoints from multiple disciplines and interdisciplines to explore the dynamics of sustainable tropical urbanism.

Author Biographies

Simona Azzali, James Cook University Singapore

Dr Simona Azzali is a researcher in urban design at the Singapore campus of James Cook University where she coordinates the Master of Planning and Urban Design and teaches core, elective, and studio modules on disaster management, urban research methods, urban design and sustainable urbanism. She is a member of JCU’s Tropical Urbanism and Design Lab (TUDLab), and JCU’s Centre for International Trade and Business in Asia (CITBA). Simona is passionate about cities and is a strong advocate for people-­oriented and participatory design approaches to build better cities. She has worked and researched for various renowned academic institutions, such as the National University of Singapore, UCL London, Politecnico di Milano, and Qatar University.

Lisa Law, James Cook University, Australia

Associate Professor Lisa Law is an interdisciplinary researcher with a background in geography and urban studies. Her research focuses on urban spaces in Southeast Asia and tropical Australia, and crosses a wide spectrum including: liveability and place-based urban design for the tropics, the meanings and uses of public space, environmentally responsive design and the role of culture and the arts in place making.  She is founder of James Cook University’s Tropical Urbanism and Design Lab, an interdisciplinary team of geographers, architects, sociologists and planners interested in urbanism in the tropics. Prior to commencing her appointment at James Cook University, she was employed at the Australian National University, the University of Western Sydney, the National University of Singapore and the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

Anita Lundberg, James Cook University, Australia

Associate Professor Anita Lundberg is a cultural anthropologist. Her ethnographies have explored everyday urban life, the cinematic city, and neoliberal higher education in Singapore; climate change street art in Bali; the architecture of a Malay house and garden of indigenous trees; and a whale hunting village in Indonesia. Anita has won awards and held international fellowships: LIA TransOceanik (CNRS, JCU, Collége de France); The Cairns Institute (TCI); Evans Fellow, Cambridge University, UK; Guest Researcher, Maison Asie-Pacifique, Université de Provence, France; Visiting Fellow, Institute of the Malay World and Civilization, National University Malaysia; and Anthropologist-in-Residence, Rimbun Dahan, Malaysia. She has curated exhibitions in NY, LA, Paris and Sydney, and her own research has been exhibited at the Australian National Maritime Museum, the National Art Gallery of Malaysia and Alliance de Française. Anita was a Post-Doctoral Fellow, Cambridge University, UK, she has a PhD in Anthropology, and an MA in Science & Technology Studies.


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How to Cite

Azzali, S., Law, L., & Lundberg, A. (2020). Sustainable Tropical Urbanism: Insights from Cities of the Monsoonal Asia-Pacific. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 19(2), 1–24.