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26 December 2008

A Tropical House

The basic elements of a good tropical house is (sic) getting as much cross-flow breeze through a house as possible, having walls that are able to be opened and allow breezes to move through - hence reducing any build-up of heat within a house, to provide appropriate shade. To start to create shade around the house, the buildings have been shaded. An important aspect is to lift the building out of the ground and to provide an elevated platform so that the house can access those breezes very well, and to build in lightweight materials so that the house doesn't retain heat.

Essentially, the house becomes a breathable (sic), living organism, almost. So, the common elements that we use are louvres. Louvres are fantastic because you can open up complete walls with louvres and you can tilt the blades so that during a storm the water still remains on the outside of the building. Corrugated steel is a material that's used extensively up here because it's lightweight, it's easy and quick to fix and it's relatively cheap.

The elevated floors are usually made of timber. Fans are used to supplement those times when, particularly this build-up, humid times of the year where often it's quite still. So fans you'll find everywhere in Darwin houses. They're just part of the furniture.

In a lot of work we do, the internal walls we create as three-quarter height walls or we create them as louvre walls, so that we can, so that the walls to the bedrooms don't block out any of that breeze access through the house. So that's very important.

There's always some loss of privacy within that but I guess it's something that Darwin people have learnt and grown up with - is that kind of loss of privacy. And that's not only within the house but it's also through the louvres to the next house to the next house to the next house. So, often people talk about the old days, being able to see what someone's doing three houses across, through those louvres. It's just part of living in Darwin, to know people's business.