Design-savy accommodation

Posted September 7, 2015


An artist impression of the G-pod

Temporary accommodation facilities are increasingly adopting sustainable design features to deal with tropical conditions, according to Tropical Green Building Network facilitator Emma Thirkell.

And she believes North Queensland businesses should be well-placed to use their expertise in this field to win more work throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The Tropical Green Building Network is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes tropical architecture and climate responsive design, including raising awareness of the choice of building materials and the way they have been tested to perform in the tropics.

“The standard mining camp is built around the old-fashioned donga - but they are doing that better now because they are understanding the importance of insulation and the relationship between that and airconditioning,” Mrs Thirkell said.

“They are also understanding the need in the tropics to have an outer skin - for instance, if they have a donga put it underneath a flying roof structure.”

Mrs Thirkell, from Cairns-based Thirkell Consulting Engineers, said using an outer skin or ‘hat’ over demountable buildings or repurposed shipping containers helped take the sun off the walls, allowed ventilation around the structures and assisted with airconditioner efficiency.

People were looking at dual mode designs that allowed cooling via ventilation during milder months but could be effectively airconditioned in very hot and humid periods.

“There will be architects and engineers and construction companies that are bringing forward these types of outcomes and it can be affordable as well. We promote the whole-of-life costs of running buildings, not just the upfront costs,” Mrs Thirkell said.

Cairns-based Taurus Fabric Build is among the Tropical Green Building Network’s members, specialising in relocatable and permanent fabric structures.

“We do a lot throughout the tropics because for work environments you need a four-way breezeway,” chief executive officer David Burston said. “We have a dome or more traditional arched section with tensioned fabric to clad it.”

Mr Burston said they were not supplying accommodation options, but had a lot of demand in remote areas for structures to be used for workshops, hangars and warehousing, for example.

Meanwhile Sunshine Coast architect Dan Sparks is working with Hong Kong-based Bridgewater Group to bring his G-pod transportable building design into production.

He said the first G-pod units, architecturally designed with a focus on environmental sustainability, would be available in Australia in November.

“G-pods can function off grid and are manufactured using biodegradable or recyclable materials,” Mr Sparks said. “They have a very small ‘footprint’ - both physically and with respect to carbon.”

He said they were ‘uber transportable’ and would make a good accommodation option for remote work camps.

More information at:

One response to “Design-savy accommodation”

  1. Darryl COnroy says:

    Add to this exciting project the likes of solar, water capture and water recycling for sustainability and the mind boggles.

    linkages between pods and communal spaces for us social creatures is another exciting prospect.

Leave a Reply

seven − 1 =