Featured News A tiny, healthy house for the tropics

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Fri, 13 Sep 2019

A tiny, healthy house for the tropics

Tiny house
The Tiny, Tropical, Healthy House.

A James Cook University Professor of Engineering will today unveil a small, affordable and healthy house she has developed specifically for living in the tropics.

JCU’s Professor Anne Steinemann and her team have created a Tiny Tropical Healthy House (TTHH) that has good indoor air quality and is resilient in tough tropical climates. It will be presented at JCU on Friday, ahead of the nationwide Sustainable House Day on Sunday 15 September.

“The tiny house is constructed with stainless steel, known for its low off-gassing and inert properties and its resistance to microbial growth and infestation. We have avoided the use of any petrochemical-containing building materials, such as manufactured wood, recycled products, treated lumber or composites,” said Professor Steinemann.

She said the TTHH is constructed without using petrochemical glues, and instead uses metal flashing, mechanical fixings, and wall frames assembled using screws and rivets.

“In addition to being healthy, it's designed to be energy efficient, cyclone rated, affordable, adaptable, and transportable,” she said. The TTHH rests on a large trailer and can be moved out of harm’s way if a cyclone or other environmental threat is coming.

Professor Steinemann said there was a need for a healthy house suitable for the tropics.

“We spend most of our time indoors, and levels of pollutants in homes are usually several times higher indoors than outdoors. Energy efficiency measures that involve more air-tight buildings, lower ventilation rates, increased reliance on air conditioning, and less use of open windows can actually worsen indoor air quality,” she said.

Professor Steinemann said the house uses climate-sensitive design, with open windows to encourage cross-ventilation.

“In this way, the tiny house eliminates the need for air conditioning and mechanical ventilation. And the tiny house can be rotated according to the direction of the wind and sun,” she said.


Project Lead: Professor Anne Steinemann, JCU

Project Manager: Darren Finlay, Innovation House

Project Funder: CSIRO, Land and Water

Collaborators: Townsville City Council, Sustainability Team in Environmental Services

Project Timeline: 2015-2019

Dimensions: 6.1 metres (length) x 4.3 metres (height) x 2.4 metres (width).

Weight: 2.5-3.0 metric tons.

Target applications for the Tiny Tropical Healthy House include the following:

  • disaster preparedness
  • disaster relief
  • affordable housing
  • temporary worker accommodation
  • student housing
  • teenager housing
  • ageing in place
  • health recovery
  • eco-retreat
  • rental accommodation
  • second home

Professor Anne Steinemann
E: anne.steinemann@jcu.edu.au
T: (07) 4781 6254
W: JCU profile.