Building in the Tropics

It is with adaptive understanding of building science and bioclimatic mindfulness that ensures building designers are best positioned to deliver high performance buildings, synergetic to tropical environments and suitable and comfortable for the end user.

In Tropical North Queensland and in addition to the physical phenomena influencing the holistic form and function of residential buildings, the provision of appropriate sustainable housing endures the additional challenge of forming climate responsive design solutions in areas that are characterised by climate extremes such as cyclonic wind loadings, monsoonal wet seasons and long hot humid summers.

In synchronization with these challenges, appropriate design solutions must be compliant with the provisions of National Construction Code of Australia and the Queensland Development Code, which refer to additional legislative effects and advisory provisions for building in Queensland.

Strategies and design solutions for comfortable homes in tropical environments

  • Generous out door living areas
  • Consider lightweight construction such as timber and steel in place of masonry
  • Maximise the control of sun and shade to external walls and windows
  • ensure placement of windows and openings maximise cross ventilation
  • Insulate walls and ceiling spaces
  • Include thermal chimneys and vents in ceiling spaces
  • Limit poorly orientated high thermal mass materials such as unshaded masonry to eastern and western walls
  • Utilise high thermal mass materials that are well positioned and shaded
  • For visual interest and sustainability, consider a variety of cladding alternatives for external walls
  • Raised floors on steel stumps promotes natural cooling
  • Utilise renewable resources such as farmed timber, which is less carbon and energy intensive than concrete
  • Choose light colours with smooth reflective surfaces for roof and external wall surfaces