Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) today (March 15) endorsed a new building design guideline that will offer the community and building industry tools for interpreting responses to climate change and variability as well as incorporating practical design ideas in home renovations or new home construction, as well as multi-residential and commercial buildings.

The Warm Temperate Climate Building Design Guidelines were endorsed at today’s March Ordinary Meeting of Council.

TRC Planning and Development Committee chair Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan said the Guidelines offered the community positive solutions to consider more appropriate climate-responsive building designs, which were one part of the puzzle to support the Region’s liveability.

“Council is keen to promote a collective response with collaborative solutions to address the changes outlined in the guidelines,” Cr O’Hara Sullivan said.

“The Guidelines are easy to read, offering simple, straight-forward tools to help residents address and incorporate local climate building design solutions in their plans. We want residents and all parts of the building industry to consider the guidelines in future designs.”

Cr O’Hara Sullivan said work conducted on behalf of Council by researchers from the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Southern Queensland (Centre for Applied Climate Sciences) identified four fundamental controls that were relevant building design responses for warm temperate climates.

These include:

• Design with the neighbourhood in mind: micro-climate siting and building form specific to conditions; the physical arrangement, orientation and shape of the building, including surrounding factors

• Design the building for the seasons: consider materials, colour finishes, openings to minimise heat loss in winter, heat gain in summer; maximise daylight for visual comfort

• Use natural energy from the sun, wind to best advantage: passive harvesting of natural energy

• Increase comfort; decrease cost: mechanical fine-tuning with technology for heating, cooling and lighting (added to meet remaining energy load and offset seasonal variations), provisions for managing, monitoring and maintaining performance.

TRC Planning and Development Committee portfolio leader Cr Bill Cahill said the researchers’ evidence-based model highlighted the Toowoomba Region’s unique climate and offered guidance for achieving better built form outcomes.

“The Guidelines are part of the Planning Scheme review. More detailed regional climate data, including data from four new USQ-operated automatic weather stations at Highfields, Crows Nest, Acland and Felton, will help Council draft specific Planning Scheme provisions, particularly reconfiguration of a lot codes," Cr Cahill said. (to offer better home orientation, especially for a northerly aspect)

“When designing future subdivisions across the Region, key principles are needed to establish lots that allow individual dwellings to incorporate the best design features for a warm temperate climate.

“The Guidelines are the start of an ongoing conversation and are proposed as the first of many guidelines under the Toowoomba Region Design banner that outline how to respond to our Region’s climate.”

Cr Cahill said future guidelines were expected to cover issues such as, warm temperate landscape design, retrofitting or adapting existing housing stock, resilience and risk design and warm temperate urban design (subdivision design).

TRC is hosting a public forum, TRUDI: Architectural Design Series ‘Warm Temperate Architecture’ to launch the Toowoomba Region Design: Warm Temperate Climate Building Design Guidelines at the Empire Theatre Church, Neil Street, Toowoomba on Monday, March 21.

The event is part of the Asia Pacific Architecture Festival, which is a collaboration between founding partners Architecture Media and State Library of Queensland.

The event, from 6-8pm, is free, but registrations are required. Register via, https://asiapacificarchitecturefestival.com/2022/event/trudi-architectural-design-series-warm-temperate-architecture

There will also be a display at the Toowoomba City Library in collaboration with the Toowoomba Branch of Renew, running from 21 March to 1 April, keep an eye on the Asia Pacific Architecture Festival event page for updates.