This month Cairns Life Magazine again asked the question of whether or not Cairns has style. Gordon Beath, Architect Director of edgearchitecture believes that yes Cairns does have style, but only in pockets or certain areas. That style is very subjective and says not enough homes are being built in this region with the climate and environment in mind.
“Design should be enhancing people’s lives, it should work harmoniously with the environment and factor in climate, lifestyle, breezes, insect control and a host of other important elements,” Gordon says. ‘The majority of houses built in Cairns today are masonry block or prefabricated homes and tend to be sold as house and land packages.” He says these house designs are based purely on economics, using materials that are most cost-effective for the builders with cheaper up-front costs.
Gordon says the problem that can occur with building with heavyweight materials like masonry block, is that if the blocks are not insulated properly they can heat up quite quickly and usually retain the heat for days making it more expensive to cool down the home. “The blocks can work well if they are insulated properly and if the house is built strategically with wider eaves, window hoods and established trees and vegetation so the home is not in direct sunlight,” he says. “This means the home won’t heat up as quickly.” He says one of the problems in the new estate areas is that there is a great absence of trees and most of the homes are masonry block, resulting in a lack of shading to cool homes and more people resorting to using air-conditioning. This doesn’t support sustainable or energy-efficient living.
Gordon says only three or five percent of people actually use architects which is a shame because architects are problem solvers and are experts at creating buildings to suit the environment. With a Masters Degree in Tropical Architecture, Gordon has designed many award-winning and sustainable resorts and residences including Castaways Resort, Undara Resort Central and Redlynch Sports Complex, just to name a few. He is proud of the fact that each one of these designs was built with the environment in mind and as sustainable as possible.
Gordon says that as architects come from a design background, they are more aware of designing a home or building to suit the occupant or home owner rather than designing a number of one-size-fits-all designs that people need to fit in to. House and land packages are standard and anyone buying them must choose one that most suits their needs, whereas by using an architect one can have a home designed around their actual lifestyle, to incorporate their hobbies, their pets, their entertaining and so on. While style means something different to everyone, creating a home that is sustainable, energy-efficient and environmentally aware is what is in style today. Think long term about your environment and what will save you money in years to come.