Sustainability2014, 6, 6278-6292; doi:10.3390/su6096278 sustainability ISSN 2071-1050 ArticleClimatic Design and Changing Social Needs in the Tropics: A Case Study in Kuching, Sarawak Elizabeth Karol †,* and Vincent Voon Chin Lai †School of Built Environment, Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth WA 6845, Australia; E-Mail: [email protected]†These authors contributed equally to this work.*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: [email protected]; Tel.: +61-8-9266-7260; Fax: +61-8-9266-2711.Received: 22 May 2014; in revised form: 21 August 2014 / Accepted: 26 August 2014 / Published: 12 September 2014 Abstract:On the periphery of most urban centres in the tropics, many new houses are being constructed in previously rural areas. However, the design of these houses shows little respect for local climate or local lifestyle, as they are now developer-constructed brick-and-concrete houses on smaller lots rather than community-built housing on large lots. This paper proposes a set of design strategies that acknowledges the particular needs related to climate and changing lifestyle in these tropical zones. Using case study methodology, the design strategies are tested on a prototype for an actual site in Tapah Village on the periphery of Kuching, Sarawak. In order to gauge the thermal performance of the prototype it was thermally simulated. The thermal simulation of the prototype showed that temperatures generally remained within an acceptable range without air-conditioning. An informal workshop was held in Tapah to gauge social acceptance of the design strategies. The prototype demonstrated that specific design strategies, some based on traditional designs, are essential in the tropics in order to minimise the need for air conditioning. These design strategies were acknowledged as important by the local community, although there was concern about the potential increase in the capital cost of such housing. Keywords:urbanization; design strategies; housing in the tropics; climatic design OPEN ACCESS
Sustainability2014, 66279 1. Introduction Many developing countries are situated within the tropics. These countries are experiencing economic growth and rapid urbanization. In Asia, the urban population is increasing by 37 million each year, and 1000 hectares of agricultural land are being converted to urban use each day . Consequently, there is an unprecedented demand for housing, particularly on the outer fringes of cities. The people occupying housing on the urban fringe choose to live there because it is within reach of their city workplaces and is more affordable than in the city proper. However, there is significant time spent in commuting to work, which means that these urban fringe dwellers have long working days away from home. This leads to a disengagement from neighbours  and removes the option of community-built housing that was the norm in these previously rural communities.