An Overview Of Outdoor Architectural Designs

For many Australians, the local weather can be quite unbearable at times, this is especially true during the summer months. In order to try and resolve the issue, a common option is to build homes that will help enhance coolness and reject excessive heat depending on the prevailing climate. However, there are emerging trends that lean towards the creation of outdoor architectural designs.

The concept of reducing incidences of extreme heat outdoors is rapidly gaining a following in the architecture world. As more and more reports of heat waves taking place in many parts of Australia roll in, efforts are being exerted towards addressing the issue not only inside the home, but outdoors as well.

using vegetation to funnel breeze

Source: YourHome Guide

With outdoor architectural designs, the focus is on promoting thermal comfort on the streets. There are a number of ways through which this can be done, but the creation of so-called urban forests is among the more effective methods.

In simple terms, creating an urban forest will involve the planting of more trees and various green plants on available street spaces or on parts of the property to funnel the breeze towards the house and provide passive shade. The planted vegetation should help bring in the needed breeze especially during summer, thus providing relief when outdoor heat becomes intolerable. You can find an in-depth guide of how to take advantage of passive cooling on the Australian Government Sustainable Homes Guide.

The concept is not entirely new and is not difficult to put into action. Spaces in between buildings usually exist, and they should serve as good starting points. In the case of buildings under construction, a so-called green infrastructure design can be considered.

Critics of outdoor architectural designs, however, claim that it will take time before the expected results can be gained. In the case of urban forests, the planting of vegetation and properly nurturing them to achieve full growth is a slow and painstaking process and many councils are unwilling to front the cost of using established trees.

Given this, there is a need to look for a few other solutions when addressing outdoor heat problems in Australia. Ideally, the solution should involve long-term planning with options for short-term or immediate results.

In this regard, street scape designs need to be overhauled to cater to the climate. Street scape designs, sometimes referred to as street-scaping, are meant to improve general road conditions. They primarily involve making changes to the overall sidewalk condition but can also require the introduction of new road cross-sections and traffic management schemes.

shadecloth covering playgroundStreet-scaping in most districts is designed by the town planning arm of the local council, and when planned comprehensively, should include the erection of street furniture like benches, utility poles, and the like. Along with planted vegetation and the appropriate tree covers, street furniture can help people to effectively handle adverse weather conditions like extreme heat. an example of this is playgrounds and areas for children that are commonly covered with shade cloths.

In the long run, street scape programs are intended to make the streets safe and habitable places where people can interact with one another. A wide range of social activities should eventually be held in these places which should go a long way in improving public health.

When viewed from a thermal comfort perspective, outdoor architectural designs like street-scaping are efficient measures by which people can learn to control their personal environment. More importantly, with access to generally safer and environment-friendly streets, people can discover various joyous activities like walking and cycling, thus effectively taking their minds off existing climatic discomforts.

Unlocking Urban Home Designs for Australian Homes

Extreme heat is hardly uncommon in Australia. However, this does not mean that local residents have come to accept their sad fate. Human comfort is, after all, a vital and important need and will always be sought no matter what. Towards this end, various urban home designs have been introduced with a view to helping Australians cope effectively with such weather conditions as extreme heat.

The distinctive Australian climate that has come to characterize the continent is most especially felt in urban areas. This should be understandable given the preference of many local residents to settle in and around the area where they can have easy access to shops, jobs, and shelter, among other things.

Wood Framed Bungalow

Nick Leith Smith Architects Eco Friendly Wood Framed Bungalow

Unfortunately, this preference has led to the deterioration of the urban climatic setting. As such, urban heat has become less and less bearable over the last few years. For this reason, it is not uncommon to find many Australians looking for ways on how to cope with an increasingly intolerable city heat.

This is where the concept of urban home designs acquires greater importance. Through these designs, it is expected that more Australian homes can eventually learn to cope with extreme heat. More importantly, they can help preserve the health of local residents especially the elderly and those who are sick.

Making use of urban home designs can mean taking the extra step to consider a few more home construction materials. For example, in areas where ground temperatures during the summer months can easily reach 19 degrees, flooring for the home should be constructed with concrete slabs that are adequately insulated.

An alternative to this is an elevated but lightweight and insulated flooring constructed alongside mass walls with high thermal settings. On the other hand, for ground temperatures that peak a little lower than 19 degrees when summer comes around, earth slabs should prove to be effective flooring materials. With today’s technology it’s possible to make these slabs from recycled building materials too!

For the roof, the common recommendation is to settle for materials bearing colours with significantly lighter shades. They offer an effective contrast to the prevailing heat especially during summer. More importantly, lightly coloured roofs help promote coolness within the atmosphere.

Beach house open plan

Herbst Architects Beach House design

Glazed windows, meanwhile, can make any home more attractive, but many experts in urban home designs believe that these should not be overused. Ideally, if glazing has to be considered as a window design, those with low U-value should be used.

Windows with low U-values have been found to resist heat flow more efficiently while offering better insulation at the same time. This should prove to be significant during summer when solar heat can be at its most extreme.

Additionally, urban home design experts have come to identify three distinct approaches when it comes to constructing the standard Australian home. These include the free running, the conditioned, and the hybrid approaches. The first involves a home where air movement is abundant as produced by fans as well as ventilation.

Conditioned buildings, meanwhile, require good insulation with the air conditioning system airtight especially when this is turned on. The hybrid urban home designs, on the other hand, are those where the rooms are fully insulated and conditioned while being surrounded by generally free and running areas at the same time. If you live in an area that tends to get the afternoon breeze then capitalize on it! Open plan living designs are a dime a dozen in Queensland so if you’re looking towards this option, perhaps reaching out to some Queensland based architects and building companies will be helpful.