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Hypochondria as a form factor. The role of colonial anxieties as shapers of buildings and urban spaces in British Africa


Year published: 2021
Categories: Journal Article

Author / Authors:

  • Jacopo Galli


Planning Perspectives, DOI: 10.1080/02665433.2021.1926314


The paper explores the role played by hypochondria, defined as the preoccupation with fears of having, or the idea that one has, a serious disease based on the person's misinterpretation of bodily symptoms, in the definition of buildings and urban spaces throughout the history of British presence in the tropics, with a special regard to the African continent. From the medical and hygiene experts to the army engineers and the establishment of Tropical Architecture the relationship with the climatic and health conditions of the tropical belt has triggered fears and anxieties that have often prevented the definition of solutions. This paper shows how the scientific attitude that has characterized the exploration and settlement of tropical areas has not been a steady process but rather a complex mix of fears, false truths, wrong beliefs and slow improvements.


  • Journal Article