Tropical Building Design

Cool Homes: Smart design for the tropics

Designing for the tropics is essential in our climate. If your home is not designed right, you run the risk of having a hot home that is expensive to keep cool, particularly over the long, hot and humid summer.

Council's Cool Homes: smart design for the tropics ( PDF, 4.37 MB ) is a guidebook that takes you through the features every tropical home should have, from the contemporary block home to the popular Queenslander and everything in between. Topics include working with your designer and/or builder, orientation and shading, ventilation, building materials and colours, insulation, gardens and outdoor rooms.

The Cool Homes Plan Analysis Tool ( PDF, 0.3 MB ) is a companion to the Cool Homes Guide and is an essential tool for anyone building, buying or renovating a home in the tropics.  You can use this transparent overlay to assess the sustainability of your house plans. Print the overlay on tracing paper, or request a transparent hard copy by emailing

Cairns Style Guide

The Cairns Style Guide showcases the distinct and unique character of the region's built environment. It encourages the development industry to provide streetscapes, housing and building designs that retain and enhance this character and respond to our tropical environment, climate, local character and community needs.

Cairns Style is a broad concept ranging from the overall pattern and rhythm of streets to the detail of window awnings and balustrades. Retaining and enhancing the distinct tropical style and character of Cairns will improve the region's aesthetics, amenity and liveability.

Commercial buildings

The Sustainable Tropical Building Design Guidelines for Commercial Buildings ( PDF, 5.9 MB ) is a resource for the development industry to encourage sustainable design and construction of commercial buildings in the tropics.

View the Sustainable Building Design Guidelines and Cool Homes Guide as e-Books below or download the PDF version

View the Sustainable Building Design Guidelines e-Book below or download the PDF version from related documents.

For download

Last updated: 30 July 2018