Designing the coolest and most efficient tropical houses

Traditional buildings in Indonesia make use of ‘passive’ cooling techniques. Being well ventilated, raised off the ground, and with shady verandas, their design allows them to stay cool in a tropical climate without air conditioning. The classic timber ‘Queenslander’ house also follows a similar design.

Now architects and engineers from both countries are getting together to compare notes on such designs and materials.

The classic timber ‘Queenslander’ house Credit: iStockphoto
The classic timber ‘Queenslander’ house
Credit: iStockphoto

One of the biggest problems is incorporating these design features into high density urban areas. About a third of the energy of modern buildings is consumed in heating and cooling, says engineer Dr Glenn Platt, Director of CSIRO’s energy efficiency research and a co-leader of the project.

Much of that energy could be saved, leading not only to lower energy bills, but also to climate benefits by reducing the use of carbon-intensive fuels.

“Cross-ventilation in these buildings is a challenge. So creating more porous building masses for low income vertical housing will be critical,” says Mr Jatmika Suryabrata, of Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM).

Banner image credit: Australia Indonesia Centre