Tropical House Design Patterns for Gambia

TROPICAL HOUSE DESIGN PATTERNS FOR GAMBIA

GENERAL TROPICAL HOUSE DESIGN PATTERNS

BUILD USING LIGHTWEIGHT MATERIALS TO GET RID OF HEAT QUICKLY
In tropical locations with small day / night temperature variations heavy and mass construction will absorb heat during the day and uncomfortably radiate it out during the night.Light weight frame and cladding and roofing materials lose heat quickly with a drop in temperature cooling the house.

REDUCE OR ELIMINATE WINDOWS IN WEST AND EAST WALLS TO REDUCE HEAT GAIN FROM MORNING AND AFTERNOON ANGLED SUN
The strong easterly morning sun and blasting westerly afternoon sun will heat up through any windows on the east and west side. Either eliminate windows on these walls or have heavily shaded or screened opening.

KEEP ROOFS AND WALLS LIGHT AND REFLECTIVE COLOURS TO REDUCE HEAT ABSORPTION
Dark roofs and outside walls absorb heat, so keep them light and reflective. Alternatively have vegetation intercept the sunlight.

SHADED LIVING TO EQUATOR SIDE OF HOUSE
The equator side of the house is best living area for sunlight, but needs shading to make comfortable. Be aware of lower winter sun as you move away from the equator. (South side in the Northern hemisphere, North side in the Southern hemisphere).

HEAT REFUGE TO NON EQUATOR SIDE
During the hotter parts of the day the shaded non equator side can be a refuge, particularly if there is a seating area shaded by a tree.

SHADE WALLS FROM SUN TO REDUCE HEAT LOAD (PARTICULARLY SOLID WALLS)
Unshaded solid walls absorb large amounts of heat. Best to shade them with large roof overhang, shade cloth, vertical louvres, secondary wall or vegetation.

WIDE EAVES (1 1.2M) IS AN EFFICIENT WAY TO SHADE WALLS
In combination with the roof design, wide roof overhang (eaves) is an economical way to shade walls. For steep sloped roofs (thatch) it may need higher walls as roof bottom can be at head height with the steep angle.

SMALLER HOUSE AND LARGER SHADED OUTSIDE AREAS IS BETTER AND MORE COST EFFECTIVE
Because of the ability to spend longer time outside in shaded areas, there is less need to have larger house structure. By keeping larger living areas outside under shade you safe appreciably on building costs.

CONSIDER LONG VERANDAHS FOR ACCESS RATHER THAN AN INTERIOR HALL
Outside verandahs for bedroom access is cheaper than larger buildings with internal hallways. It also allows more air movement through the bedrooms.

SLEEPING REFUGE AREAS
Consider having daytime sleeping areas to the non equator side for shaded cool sleeping during the day

CONSIDER OUTSIDE AND ELEVATED SLEEPING AREAS FOR YEARLY HOT PERIODS
When temperatures reach high levels, indoor areas may radiate heat gained during the day, so sleeping outside with more exposure to breezes may be more tolerable. Outdoor sleeping areas could be used the rest of the year for outside daily siesta locations.

BUILD LOW USE BUFFER ROOMS AND AREAS NEAR THE WESTERN WALL
Because of the harsh afternoon sun to western walls, low use rooms such as utility, toilet, storage, staircase should be hear this wall to buffer the rest of the house from the heat.

 

HOUSE SHAPE AND ORIENTATION

LONG, NARROW HOUSES ARE BETTER TO ENCOURAGE AIR FLOW ACROSS HOUSE
Air movement is essential for keeping cool in the tropics. Wide houses with complicated room layout restricts air flow. Long thin houses with opposing windows encourages airflow across the house, keeping the occupants cooler.

LONG AXIS OF HOUSE GOES EAST TO WEST TO REDUCE SOLAR GAIN
As the searing tropical sun goes from east to west it heats east facing walls in the morning and west facing walls after midday. If these wall are long house sides, then the house will become overheated. Better to have the sun running over the ridge of the house and only hitting the smaller ends in the morning and late evening.

ORIENT HOUSE FOR PREDOMINANT WINDS
While the first design principle is to orient your house east to west to reduce solar gain, the second principle is to take account the need for the predominant winds to blow through the house to cool the occupants.

BUILD HIGH SET HOUSES TO CATCH BREEZE UP HIGH AND FLOW BREEZE UNDERNEATH TO FURTHER COOL
Ground objects slow breezes. Better to build up high to catch higher air movement. High set houses also lose heat quicker than houses on the ground.

FOR ON GROUND HOUSES ENSURE GROUND SLAB IS WELL SHADED
On ground slabs can act to absorb heat from occupants and act to lower temperatures as long as links mass walls and slab sides are shaded to reduce heat input.

BE SURE HOUSE LOCATION ON BLOCK TAKES INTO ACCOUNT SHADING REQUIREMENTS FOR EAVES AND VEGETATION Lining your house up with the road is often not the best option for best cooling. Consider east west orientation and room for shading trees for east and west ends and living area to the equator side.

 

HOUSE VENTILATION

USE VENTILATION RATHER THAN AIR CONDITIONING IN MOST CASES TO ALLOW OCCUPANTS TO ACCLIMATISE TO THE HOT WEATHER
Acclimatisation to heat takes five days and is rapidly lost when sheltering in the cooler air conditioned zones. Natural ventilation combined with acclimatisation is a more appropriate response to general tropical living.

FOR MAIN HABITABLE ROOMS HAVE AT LEAST 2 EXTERIOR WALLS WITH WINDOWS, PREFERABLY OPPOSITE FOR BENEFIT FROM VENTILATION
Cross flow ventilation needs a windward and leeward opening. If these are opposite, cooling breezes are encouraged.

REDUCE INTERNAL OBSTRUCTIONS (WALLS, FURNITURE) TO AIR FLOW
Air flow can be drastically cut by obstructions, so keep them to a minimum.

HIGH CEILINGS FEEL COOLER AS HOT AIR RISES
High ceilings with high ventilation cause passive flow of air for cooling.

USE GLASS WINDOWS SPARINGLY AS THEY ENCOURAGE HEAT BUILD UP
Glass causes interior build up of heat and restriction of airflow. If used, then look to modern glasses that reduce heat build up.

USE HORIZONTAL OR VERTICAL LOUVRES ON OPPOSING WALLS, TO DIRECT AIRFLOW ACROSS THE HOUSE.
Louvres are infinitely adjustable so are useful in varying wind according to changing conditions.

USE LOW CEILING FANS TO CREATE BREEZE
Ceiling fans are a cost effective way to cool.

LARGE WINDOWS ENCOURAGE FLOW OF AIR
Large windows allow more air flow. and when fly screened they compensate for 30% loss of airflow. Avoid glass if possible and have wooden storm shutters.

USE OPEN SCREENS THAT ALLOW AIR FLOW RATHER THAN SOLID WALLS
Decorative screens give some privacy but allow natural air flow

USE HIGH VENTS OR VENTILATORS TO INCREASE NATURAL CONVECTION OF AIR
Hot air rises, so having a high outlet means hot air escapes and cool air flows in from below.

USE LOW WINDOWS AND VENTS FOR FULL VENTILATION
Low vents and windows draw in cooler air from just above the ground as hot air rises out through high vents. This causes breezes and cooling, particularly if the house is surrounded by vegetation that cools the air.

USE PORCHES OR VENTILATED COURTYARDS TO COOL INTERIOR ROOMS
Interior rooms in tropics can get overheated due to thermal mass heating. Allow cooling by designing in areas that direct airflow to these rooms.

EXTERIOR WING WALLS CAN BE HANDY TO CATCH BREEZE AND DIRECT INTO WINDOWS. CASEMENT, SIDE OPENING WINDOWS CAN HAVE THE SAME EFFECT
Wind can blow along outside walls without entering rooms. Re­direct breezes into the rooms for maximum cooling effect.

CONSIDERS SHADING THE WHOLE OF THE ROOF WITH A “FLY ROOF”
In extreme open areas with little vegetation a large designed awning across the whole building can shade it and reduce heat loads.

THE IDEAL WINDOW AND VENT SIZE IS 30 40% BY AREA OF THE FLOOR
The maximum inside breeze rate is no more than 40% of outside speed, at total windward and leeward area being 40% of floor area.

 

ROOF PATTERNS

ROOF PITCH STEEP FOR TROPICAL RAIN AND REDUCED SOLAR GAIN
The steeper the pitch, the less solar gain as the sunlight is reflected off at an angle.

EITHER LARGE (200mm wide) OR NO GUTTERS TO DEAL WITH TROPICAL RAIN
Tropical rain deluges standard gutters, so either think big to trap it or have no gutters and fall to gravel drains.

ROOF COLOUR ­ REFLECTIVE STEEL OR LIGHT PAINTED TO REFLECT HEAT
Dark colours absorb heat, so reflect this away with light coloured roofs.

ENSURE CLOSED IN ROOF SPACES ARE ADEQUATELY VENTILATED AND INSULATED
With roof and ceiling system, the roof space can get extremely overheated. Ensure you have eaves vents combined with ridge vents or rotary ventilation to draw out this heat.

RICE HUSKS, COCONUT FIBRE OR SEA GRASS CAN BE USED IN BAGS AS NATURAL INSULATION. COCONUT HUSKS NEEDING BORAX TREATMENT FOR FIRE RETARDANCY
For low impact insulation use natural material if it is available and treated against fire and insect damage.

THATCH ROOF PITCH TO BE MINIMUM of 30 DEGREES
Thatch roofs last much longer and work more effectively the closer they are to 45 degrees and more.

FOR SOLAR PANELS A 12 DEGREE SECTION IS OPTIMAL
Sections of the roof can be put at a low angle to help optimal solar panel operation.

 

WINDOW PATTERNS

WINDOW SIZE PATTERNS
Standard heights of window is 600mm. Windows usually installed from 950mm above floor height as this is just above standard working height of 900mm Side swinging windows/openings are good for catching breeze, but no more than 600mm wide.

REDUCED OR NO GLASS USE IN WINDOWS AS IT MOSTLY CAUSES INTERNAL HEATING AND REDUCED AIR FLOW
Glass traps heat so has little place in tropical housing. Security concerns can be eliminated with screens, insects via fly screens and high winds via shutters. Tropical living is about outdoor indoor movement and glass acts as a barrier to this life.

REDUCE WINDOW USE ON WEST AND EAST SIDES
The east and west side of the house receive the majority of the sunlight, so either eliminate windows on these sides or screen and shade them.

FULL AREA OPENINGS SUCH AS LOUVRES AND SIDE HUNG CASEMENT ARE PREFERABLE OVER SLIDING SASH AND HOPPER THAT RESTRICT AIRFLOW.
Even very small breezes can make you feel cool in hot conditions,so encourage these with windows that help direct and trap breezes.

USE CASEMENT WINDOWS ON WINDWARD SIDE TO CATCH AND DIRECT WIND AND LOUVRES ON LEEWARD SIDE
Casement windows are hinged on the side and pen out to form a “wing” to trap passing air. Leeward louvres let the air move through without impedance.

LOUVRES ON WINDWARD SIDE CAN BE USEFUL FOR DIRECTING BREEZES IN A ROOM
Windward louvres are also useful for directing wind through a room, particularly in combination casements to trap any passing breezes.

ALWAYS SHADE WINDOW OPENINGS, ESPECIALLY IF GLASS
The most important rule for windows in the tropics is to shade them to reduce heat gain into the house.

STEEL FRAME WINDOWS ENCOURAGE HEAT INTO THE HOUSE SO PREFERENCE IS FOR WOODEN OR OTHER INSULATED MATERIAL
Steel is a great conductor of heat and will draw heat into a house, particularly in combination with glass.

TOP OPENING, WOODEN STORM SHUTTERS CAN BE USED TO SHADE AS WELL AS USE IN HIGH WINDS
Top hinged shutters with adjustment can be set at a great range of openings to accommodate high summer sun, low winter sun and closed for storm protection.

FLYSCREENS RESTRICT AIRFLOW UP TO 40% SO CONSIDER RETRACTABLE ONES TO MAKE BEST USE OF NON INSECT TIMES
Fitted fly screens are great for an insect free house, but restrict air flow, so ensure they are easily removable when you want maximum air flow.

FOR WESTERN WALL WINDOWS, MAKE SMALL, IDEALLY SLIT WINDOWS AND USE SCREENS OR PLANTS TO REDUCE DIRECT SUNLIGHT
Protect your house from intense afternoon sun with small window areas that allow some day, and mostly night ventilation.

WINDOWS FACING WITHIN 20 DEGREES OF DUE NORTH OVERHANG RATIO NOT LESS THAN –
.5 Ratio is “X” to “Y” where “X” is from wall to outside of shad and “Y” is horizontal bottom of shade to bottom of window.

WINDOWS FACING OUTSIDE 20 DEGREES OF DUE NORTH OVERHANG RATIO NOT LESS THAN –
2.0 Ratio is “X” to “Y” where “X” is from wall to outside of shad and “Y” is horizontal bottom of shade to bottom of window.

 

DOOR PATTERNS

DOOR MEASUREMENT PATTERNS
Standard door measurements mean you can purchase already made doors. Alternatively, doors that vary from this size can be good design statement, especially taller doors as hot air can move around.

­ A standard entry door is 2040mm high x 820mm wide by 38mm,

­ Door frame (timber) for standard door is 2090mm by 900mm ­ Door opening in block is 2095 by 905mm or build the frame into blockwork.

­ A standard internal door is 2040mm high x 820mm wide by 35mm Here are other door sizes; 2040x520x35mm 2040x620x35mm 2040x720x35mm 2040x770x35mm 2040x820x35mm (This is the most common size) 2040x870x35mm 2040x920x35mm

CONSIDER TALL DOORS TO ENABLE HOT AIR TO CIRCULATE
Normal doors are 2 metres high with many ceiling in tropical houses higher. This traps high heat in rooms. High doors reduces trapping.

CONSIDER OPEN GRATES ABOVE LOWER DOORS TO ENABLE AIR TO CIRCULATE
Open decorative grates of steel or timber above doors allow high, hot air flow.

SOLID DOORS TO COMPOUNDS ARE HARSH PRIVACY.
In a community, open screen doors allow community interaction without eliminating security.

 

FLOOR PATTERNS

CONSIDER CAREFULLY USING HOUSE SLAB FLOOR. THIS WILL BE COOL DURING DAY BUT MAY BE TOO HOT AT NIGHTS Concrete slab floors can transfer heat to the ground, but only is totally shaded and not linked to solid walls that are heated during the day.

IN ELEVATED HOUSES USE LIGHT WEIGHT TIMBER FLOORING SO HEAT IS LOST QUICK AT NIGHT
Timber sheeting or floorboards are a poor heat store, so will lose heat quickly at night. Raise concrete floors and slabs are not good for heat loss, although they will help with cooler winter nights.

IN ELEVATED HOUSE CONSIDER AIR GAPS BETWEEN FLOORING IF ABOVE THE GROUND BELOW FOR AIR CIRCULATION Flooring with gaps is usually for open verandahs, but if the floor is above the open ground or a garage or utility room you can use flooring gaps for air flow.

 

WALL PATTERNS

OPEN BLOCK/BRICK WALLS CAN BE USED TO EQUATOR SIDE OF BUILDING IF SHADED. THIS BRINGS IN LIGHT, BUT REDUCES HEAT
Decorative, open blocks and bricks laid with open areas are common in Africa and allow airflow and dappled light while shading out most of the intense heat.

WALLS WITHIN SOLID ANTI TERMITE WALLS CAN BE LIGHTWEIGHT AND REPLACEABLE SUCH AS BAMBOO OR LOCAL MATTING
Light walls using local materials can be sacrificial and be replaceable to keep initial costs down.

MUDBRICK AND RAMMED EARTH CAN BE CONSIDERED IF BASE OF CEMENT BLOCKS IS MADE TO RESIST WATER INGRESS
Mud Bricks and rammed earth erode with rising damp so lower blocks to be water impermeable.

MUDBRICK AND RAMMED EARTH NEED GOOD RAIN SPLASH COVER IN THE TROPICS
Wide eaves are needed to eliminate rain splash on earth walls. Also consider a small percentage cement to rammed earth blocks for stability.

INTERNAL WALLS CAN BE LOUVRES THAT OPEN DURING DAY FOR AIRFLOW AND CLOSE AT NIGHT FOR PRIVACY
Louvres or french folding doors can be used to divide and opened during the day, but closed during the night for privacy. Night time air flow will be restricted though.

INTERNAL WALLS CAN ALSO BE SCREENS FOR SHADING, PRIVACY, BUT MAINTAINING AIR FLOW
Internal dividers of space need not be solid walls. Screens can allow privacy, but still be social, and maintain air flow.

ADD INSULATION TO EXTERNAL LIGHT WEIGHT WALLS EVEN INTERNAL TEMPERATURE VARIATIONS
Wall insulation in the tropics is not needed like in temperate climates, but can be added to even out temperatures a little. Slightly less heat is transferred in during the day and less heat lost during months of cooler tropical nights.

 

LANDSCAPING PATTERNS

REDUCE EXTERNAL CONCRETE AND PAVINGS CLOSE TO THE HOUSE AS AT NIGHT THEY RADIATE HEAT STORED DURING THE DAY
They also heat up any breeze moving across them and through the house. Better to replace with soil and vegetation to help keep the area cool.

WHITE AND REFLECTIVE STONES CAN REFLECT HEAT AWAY FROM OUTDOOR LIVING AREAS
If the sun reaches close to your living area during the day, dark, solid surfaces can hold heat and reflect it back during the evening when you normally want to lose heat. So reflect it away with white and reflective surfaces.

USE VEGETATION AROUND THE HOUSE TO REDUCE SOLAR GAIN
Vegetation reduces temperatures considerably by absorbing heat. Plantings, particularly to the south, west and east, will reduce overall house temperatures.

PALMS, TREES AND SHRUBS TO THE SIDE OF OPENINGS TO PROVIDE SHADE, NATURAL VENTILATION AND AESTHETIC LOOKS
Vegetation helps to calm and make houses feel more natural and works great in the tropics.

PLANT SMALLER SHRUBS ON EQUATOR SIDE TO REDUCE SHADING ON SOLAR PANELS
Consider where solar panels for water heating and electricity are and plant smaller trees and shrubs in this area.

REDUCE GRASS AREAS AS THEY NEED LARGE AMOUNTS OF WATER
Grasses areas are great, but keep to a minimum and place close to living area. REmainder of garden can be non natural or native plants and ground covers.

CLUMPING PALMS AND FRONDS CAN ACCENTUATE BREEZE BY THEIR ELASTIC SWAYING
Plant these near where people sit such as near outside eating tables and the movement from gentle breezes is accentuated by the swaying.

PLANT SHRUBS AND SMALL TREES NEAR HOUSE, TREES TO SHADE EAST AND WEST WALLS
Plant appropriate height plants in appropriate locations.

 

WATER PATTERNS

CONSIDER PART OR FULLY SHADED POOLS TO KEEP WATER TEMPERATURE LOW AND PROVIDE SHADE FOR USERS. Allowing shade above pools in the tropics can be of great benefit for longer time use. Full sunshine all over the pool is not as inviting for pool use.

PLAN IN POOL FENCES FOR CHILD SAFE POOL
If the pool is not in a restricted or fenced area it may attract children, so make sure it is isolated from them.

SMALL PLUNGE POOL MAY BE ALL NEEDED FOR TROPICAL CLIMATES. THIS CAN BE CLOSE TO HOUSE TO PROVIDE COOLING BREEZE
Large pools are costly to maintain. Consider a small plunge pool close to the living area and part of the landscaping for keeping cool.

CONSIDER WATER FEATURES IN OR CLOSE TO HOUSE TO ENCOURAGE EVAPORATIVE COOLING IN LOW HUMIDITY TIMES
A water feature will have little effect in high humidity times, but when humidity goes low, it will draw heat from the air.

USE LARGE WIDE AND DEEP GUTTERS FOR SAVING HEAVY RAINWATER
With the long dry periods, it is very beneficial if you can save rainwater in above or below ground tanks. Large gutters divert the heavy rain.

CONSIDER UNDERGROUND TANKS FOR LONG TIME RESERVOIR
To make use of the heavy tropical rains, large tanks below the gutter level can be used to store water. Tanks can also be made under raised blockwork houses with minimal cost and the ability to store over 30 000 litres.

PROVIDE GRAVITY TANKS FOR REDUCED ENERGY REQUIREMENTS FOR WATER
Small tanks on the roof or on towers provide gravity pressure water and can be trickle fed from larger lower tanks that have trapped the rain or fed by pumping from wells or bores.

REDUCE LAWN COVER IN FAVOUR OF NATIVE PLANTS
Lawns need year round water in the tropics, so reduce or avoid their use.

CONSIDER COMPOSTING AND LOW FLUSH TOILETS TO REDUCE WATER USE
With flush toilets using up to 40% of total water use, reducing or eliminating this waste is economically beneficial.

RE­USE GREY­WATER IN PLANTED AREAS, PARTICULARLY FOR FRUIT PRODUCTION
If poisonous chemicals are kept out of greywater, it can be used to water fruit and landscape trees using underground trickle irrigation.

 

LIGHTING PATTERNS

USE NATURAL LIGHTING WHERE POSSIBLE AS HIGH LIGHT LEVELS ARE AVAILABLE AND EVEN SHADED AREAS HAVE ADEQUATE LIGHT
Artificial lighting does not have the full spectrum of natural light and is energy intensive to use, so design for natural lighting where possible.

USE LOW ENERGY AND LED LIGHT
Low energy lighting is very advances with LED lights now using very low wattage, lasting over 30 000 hours and providing wide spectrum light.

HIGH AND LOW WINDOWS LET IN THE MOST LIGHT
Mid range windows provide best views, but high windows provide the best natural lighting and low windows able to pick up ground reflected light.

USE REFLECTIVE BLINDS, SHELVES AND MIRRORS AS WELL AS WHITE CEILINGS TO REDIRECT NATURAL LIGHT TO DARK INTERIOR AREAS​
There is no need to have internal lights during the day in high light tropical areas. Use reflection to redirect light into the cooler interior rooms without the heat gain of direct windows.

IF USING GLASS IN WINDOWS, USE NEWLY DESIGNED GLASS THAT MINIMISE SOLAR GAIN
Tropical light through windows builds up high temperatures inside the house. Reduce this by using newly designed glass that has low heat gain.

 

AIR CONDITIONING PATTERNS

ENCOURAGE REDUCTION OF AIR CONDITIONED AREAS
Air conditioned rooms and houses need to be closed in. The occupant is not in connect with the outside. This reduces greatly their ability to acclimatise to the tropical conditions. Without acclimatisation occupants end up staying in air conditioned area and not participating in tropical living. So discourage air conditioning and if used, reduce to small area in a house designed to reduce heat transfer to that room.

CONSIDER USING FANS RATHER THAN AIR CONDITIONING
Fans maintain tropical acclimatisation of the house occupants while cooling. For most of the year in tropical areas fans are all that is required for cooling.

REDUCING EXTERNAL HEAT GAIN BY SHADING AND VEGETATION IS ESSENTIAL IN AIR CONDITIONED HOUSE AND WILL REDUCE ENERGY COSTS BY MORE THAN 50%
If you have all or part of your house air conditioned, then you will reduce the cost considerably by implementing passive cooling design first.

CONSIDER AIR CONDITIONING ONE INTERNAL ROOM RATHER THAN THE WHOLE HOUSE
You can maintain an open tropical house and still keep cool in the hottest periods by having a few core rooms in the centre of the house air conditioned.

IF USING AIR CONDITIONING SHADE THE EXTERNAL CONTEMPORARY (COMPRESSORS) AND PREFERABLE LOCATION IS EAST AND EQUATOR FACING SIDES AND HIGH UP UNDER EAVES.
Don’t over burden your air conditioner by having the compressors in sunny location.

MAKE SURE AIR CONDITIONED ROOMS ARE WELL INSULATED INCLUDING FLOOR IN AN ELEVATED HOUSE
Air conditioning is expensive, so ensure coolth is kept in by good insulation.

USE CEILING FANS WITH AIR CONDITIONING TO REDUCE LOAD ON AIR CONDITIONER
Keeping cool with fans in air conditioned rooms will allow you to reduce the energy needed to keep cool.

REDUCE GLASS AREA IN AIR CONDITIONED ROOMS
It is essential to reduce glass areas so that solar heat gain is not working against the air conditioner. If you cannot eliminate windows, then make sure they are shaded from sunshine all times.

 

INSECTS CONTROL PATTERNS

FLY SCREENS MAY BE BEST FITTED JUST TO BEDROOMS RATHER THAN FULL ENCLOSURE OF HOUSE
Insects usually come at night towards light, so to ensure full ventilation during the day, consider flyscreens to only internal night time living areas.

EASILY REMOVABLE INTERNAL FLY SCREENS ALLOW MORE FLEXIBILITY AND FIXED EXTERNAL ONES
Fly screens should be easily removable and marked for location so they can be stored for long periods where insects are not a nuisance. This increases airflow and cooling effect.

 

HOUSE CEILING HEIGHT

MINIMUM CEILING HEIGHT
Minimum height of 2.1m (7′), but this is low and stifling in the tropics.

STANDARD CEILING HEIGHT
Preferable height of 2.4m (8″) for most houses

DESIRABLE CEILING HEIGHT
Best for tropics is 2.7m (9′) with heating rising above heads. It is better to have a high, open ceiling with good ventilation in the tropics. A “cathedral” style ceiling takes heat up and out fast and also gives a feeling of space.

VARY CEILING HEIGHT
You can vary the ceiling height to make best use of resources. High in main living areas and lower in bedrooms and bathrooms were less active time is spent.

 

SECURITY PATTERNS

THE BEST SECURITY IS KNOWING YOUR NEIGHBOURS
Being part of the community around you will keep you safe.

FLY SCREEN WILL ACT AS A DETERRENT TO MANY BURGLARS
Most burglars are looking for quick in and out. Fly screens or open grill screens will keep them out for most theft.

OPEN LIGHTWEIGHT STEELS SCREENS ARE A GOOD SECURITY WITHOUT REDUCING VENTILATION
Keep secure and breezy by using steel decorative screens instead of solid doors.

 

STORAGE PATTERNS

HAVE OUTDOOR AND INDOOR STORAGE AREAS
Outdoor storage areas for things from the car and bikes, garden gear and outdoor activities, indoor for linen, accessories etc.

DESIGN STORAGE ACCESS TO FREQUENCY OF USE
The more often you need to use something, the easier it should be to get to. lace seldom used items high or at back of storage.

ENSURE GOOD VENTILATION TO STORAGE AREAS
In the tropics, damp and humidity is a problem in the rainy season, so ensure good ventilation so items will dry out quickly when the rains stops.

INCORPORATE STORAGE IN WALLS
Where space is tight, consider replacing parts of non bearing walls with inbuilt shelves.

CONSIDER WINDOW SEAT STORAGE
Window seats, particularly on bay windows, can be a valuable, and easy to get to storage location.

 

KITCHEN PATTERNS

LOCATE KITCHEN AS THE FOCAL POINT OF THE HOUSE
The kitchen has become the main area for modern living, so locate it where passing traffic can interact with it, but not interfere with it.

DESIGN TRAFFIC TO MOVE AROUND THE KITCHEN NOT THROUGH
Traffic should bypass the kitchen,for interaction, but not pass “through” the kitchen or the kitchen “work triangle”.

ENSURE NATURAL EXHAUST AND CROSS FLOW VENTILATION
Kitchen produce heat and steam and this should be moved out as quick as possible.

HAVE HIGH NATURAL LIGHT LEVELS IN THE KITCHEN
Having large areas of natural light helps with cooking and making the kitchen a comfortable place to be. Design for natural light, not artificial with natural lighting being more than 10% of the floor area.

REDUCE REFRIGERATOR USE BY HAVING COOL AREAS
Refrigerator use in the tropics is high use of energy and expensive. Consider a small refrigerator located in shaded area of kitchen and/or build cool safe, either in the ground or insulated cool box.

CONSIDER EXTENDING KITCHEN INTO SHADED OUTDOOR AREAS BY USING OUTDOOR OVENS, BBQ’S AND EATING AREAS TO DISSIPATE COOKING AND PREPARATION HEAT
This is the tropics! Make the most of your outdoor space by having extra BBQ kitchen outside or locating the one kitchen outside.

DESIGN A “WORK TRIANGLE” OF SINK, STOVE AND REFRIGERATOR
The classic and ergonomic pattern of kitchen design is the work triangle of 1/ FOOD STORAGE (refrigerator / store cupboard, 2/ PREPARATION AREA (Sink and chopping board) and 3/ COOKING AREA (Oven and stove).

DESIGN THE KITCHEN AROUND THE SINK AND CHOPPING AREA BEING THE CENTRE OF THE WORK TRIANGLE
Place the preparation area in the middle of this triangle.and if possible face this towards dining area for best person to person interaction.

EXTENDING WORKBENCH NEAR SINK CAN HELP THIS BE A FULL PREPARATION AREA
Design in space near the sink as preparation area. Washing and preparation areas are in combination the most used areas of the kitchen.

FOOD PREP AREA GOOD TO BE BETWEEN SINK AND FOOD STORAGE
Having a good sized preparation area at this location allows you to get food out to preparation area easty and have sink for washing close at hand.

SETDOWN AREA NEAR COOKING AREA
A set down area near the cooling area is essential for a place to put hot plates. Best to have one to either side.

SETDOWN AREA NEAR FRIDGE
This helps when taking out multiple items for preparation.

UTENSILS AND PANS NEAR COOKING OR HUNG UP
Use low shelves for pots and pans and high, hung areas for the utensils to have all cooking gear close at hand.

GAS HOTPLATES / ROCKET STOVES ARE GENERALLY BEST FOR TROPICS AS THEY HEAT UP QUICKLY AND LOSE HEAT QUICKLY.

KICKBOARDS ENCOURAGE INSECTUS UNDER CABINETS.
It is preferable to have cabinets on open legs for full cleaning in the tropics.

KITCHEN MEASUREMENTS

MINIMUM KITCHEN AREA – 10m2, BEST 25m2

KITCHEN WORKTOP HEIGHT – The recommended height is 900 +/20mm although the working height can be within the range of 850mm to 1050mm.

DEPTH OF FLOOR CABINETS / WORKTOP – 580mm INCLUDING DOOR

DEPTH OF WALL CABINETS – 300mm clear for large plates.

HEIGHT OF WALL CABINETS – 720mm from work surface top.

MAX WIDTH OF DOOR – 600mm

SPLASHBACK (TOP WORKTOP) TO UNDERSIDE WALL UNITS – MIN 450mm

SPLASHBACK ABOVE STOVE TO EXTRACTOR TOP /UNDERSIDE CABINET
ELECTRIC – 600mm,
GAS – 700mm TO 750mm

870mm IS HEIGHT FOR WHITE GOODS / APPLIANCES. – Floor to underside of work top.

1000mm MINIMUM BETWEEN WORKTOPS. 1200MM IS PREFERRED

SINK TO HAVE WORKTOP TO BOTH SIDES TO – MIN 1000mm

OVENS USUALLY – 600mm TO TOP

 

BEDROOM PATTERNS

LOCATE BEDROOM EAST END OF HOUSE
The best bedroom locations for having morning sun and protection from hotter afternoon sun is the east end of the house.

MINIMUM BEDROOM SIZE
Minimum is 3m BY 3m but this is very small and best for children.

STANDARD BEDROOM SIZE
OK is 3m WIDE BY 4m but not for master and tight for guest bedroom.

GUEST BEDROOM SIZE
Guest and minimum main is 4m WIDE BY 5m DEEP This gives 1m each side of a King bed.

LUXURY MAIN BEDROOM SIZE
Luxury is 5m WIDE BY 6m deep. Not too big as losses effectiveness and feeling.

BED SIZES
Single bed size 90 cm by 190 cm (36 in by 75 in)
Double bed size 135 cm by 190 cm (54 in by 75 in)
King bed size 180 cm by 200 cm (72 in by 78 in)

BASIC FURNITURE WILL BE BED, DRESSER, WARDROBE AND BEDSIDE TABLE
Design for a minimum of these three items.

IT IS DESIRABLE TO HAVE A VIEW THROUGH A WINDOW FROM SITTING IN BED
Upon waking it is desirable to have a connection with the outside through a window. This is particularly effective in the tropics where the outside weather is inviting.

 

LIVING AREA PATTERNS

TROPICAL LIVING FAVOURS COMBINED LIVING AREAS
In the tropics there is no need to divide of areas into specific rooms that can be temperature controlled. Better to combine kitchen, dining and lounge into one large, subdivided general living area.

INCORPORATE SMALL SEMI PRIVATE AREAS
Incorporate small areas where persons can achieve privacy, but can still be part of the general social group. Also consider full private outside areas.

 

DINING AREA PATTERNS

COMMON PATTERN IS TO COMBINE THE KITCHEN AND DINING ROOMS
In both tropical and temperate design is it now common to combine kitchen and dining areas to allow better conversation and flow of food.

THE DINING TABLE SIZE IS IMPORTANT
Consider the dining room table size and shape according to the number of people usually around it. Round table for up to 6 people and small spaces. Over this and the table size is too large and conversation is shouted. Consider a oval or rectangular table for larger numbers.

ROUND TABLE DIMENSIONS
To seat 4 people: 36″ Diameter­
44″ Diameter To seat 4­6 people: 44″Diameter­54″Diameter To seat 6­8 people: 54″Diameter­72″Diameter

OVAL TABLE DIMENSIONS
To seat 4­6 people: 36”W x 56”L
To seat 6­8 people: 36′′W x 72”L
To seat 8­10 people:36′′W x 84”L (Oval table could be used with leaves to extend for extra people)

SQUARE TABLE DIMENSIONS
To seat 4 people: 36″­44″ Square

RECTANGLE TABLE DIMENSIONS
To seat 4 people: 36″W x 48″L
To seat 4­6 people: 36″W x 60″L
To seat 6­8 people: 36″W x 78″L (Thanks to House Plan Helper for this information).​http://www.houseplanshelper.com/dining­table­size.html

DESIGN FOR SPACE TO MOVE AROUND TABLE
Where the table is in the traffic lane, allow 1100 TO 1200mm from the table for a person to move behind a seated dinner.

 

BATHROOM PATTERNS

CONSIDER ENCLOSED BUT OPEN ROOF BATHROOM DESIGN
Consider a enclosed with high wall, but open roof, courtyard style design as more suitable for the tropics than an enclosed bathroom that would trap steam and smells. The bathroom can dry in the sunshine and can be lined with plants and use pebble floor or drained flagstone floor as a more tropical feel.

DESIGN ALL PLUMBING AREAS (KITCHEN, BATHROOM, LAUNDRY) CLOSE FOR EASE OF PLUMBING
Group together the plumbing areas that share water and drainage pipes. Walls and floors can separate,but still keep the piping close together..

CONSIDER A SAND SHOWER
Particularly if close to the beach, an open sand shower can be handy to wash off sand and sun dry rather than use the main shower.

A SHOWER OPTION IS A MANDI
A Mandi is a large tub of water that is filled and water scooped out and poured over occupant. In the tropics this is suitable for washing and does not need gravity water.

A WET AREA IS THE BEST OPTIONS FOR THE TROPICS
In the tropics, bathrooms are used often to wash and keep cool. A full wet area is more suitable and easier to dry and keep clean and free of mould.

USE MIRRORS AND LIGHT COLOURED WALLS TO INCREASE VISUAL SIZE OF BATHROOM
Use light and reflective interiors with small objects to increase the visual size.

BATHROOM STORAGE
Bathroom storage is for wet and damp items such as hooks for towels and shelves at low and higher levels for clothes. Dry towels and other dry bathroom items should be stored outside of bathroom to keep dry until needed.

BEST LIGHTING IS NATURAL AND LOW
Lighting in the bathroom is about grooming in front of the mirror so lighting above and to both side of the missor is neede with natural lighting best.

BATHROOM SIZES

Use larger bathroom sizes in the tropics.

Toilet ­ Minimum 30” (760mm) wide space and 21”(530mm) to the front.

Shower / baths ­ Minimum 21”(530mm) to the front.

Shower size minimum 30”(760mm) with 36”(910mm) preferable.

Sink height is 36” standard (910mm)

Toilet roll best 12”(300mm) from toilet and 26”(550mm) from the floor.

Reference, with thanks ­ http://www.oxpop.com/resume/kitchen/sweat/bbasics.htm

 

UTILITY ROOM PATTERNS

LAUNDRY AND UTILITY /GARAGE AREAS ARE BEST TO THE MORE HOT WEST SIDE
This side of the house heats up too much for general living and is more suitable for areas that need to be kept dry such as the laundry. This is also further way from the main living area so noisy washing machines have less affect.

CONSIDER OUTSIDE LAUNDRY AREA WITH SHADE FOR WASHING BUT OPEN TO WEST HOT AFTERNOON SUN FOR DRYING CLOTHES
Tropical breezes and sunshine can dry laundry quickly.

 

VERANDAH & PATIO PATTERNS

PUT VERANDAHS ON THE EQUATOR FACING DIRECTION FOR BEST SHADING.OF HOUSE
The sunshine side of the house needs its walls and windows shaded. Verandahs not only help shade but it is the prefered location for most people.

USE PLANTED OR POTTED VEGETATION ON VERANDAHS TO THE EQUATOR DIRECTION TO AID IN REDUCING WARMTH Vegetation allows dappled shade and absorbs warmth and reduces temperature as much as 10 degrees C.

CONSIDER VERANDAHS WITH OPEN FLOORING FOR INCREASED AIRFLOW
Gaps between floorboards can help to increase air flow, particularly if the area has been closed in with flyscreen. Insects will not usually come up under the floor.

UNLESS USED AS WALKWAY ONLY, VERANDAH OR PATIO AREA LESS THAN 3.5M IS TOO SMALL FOR USE. CONSIDER TO 5M FOR FREQUENT USE AREA
Verandah and patio areas need to be able to accommodate a large table and seating to either side as well as allow movement past. 4m by 6m deck is good working size verandah or patio.

VERANDAH OR PATIO WITH SINGLE SEATING, 1.5m IS OK
For example outside hallway with seating against wall. Verandah that has screening for shade needs 1.7 to 1.8 as it can be claustrophobic if thinner. Verandah around 2m is waste for one seating and too small for table and chairs. Avoid unless it runs out to outdoor area.