Energy reduction through better building design in sub-tropical climates is a key focus of a new, independent research-based consultancy launched in Brisbane.

Dr Rosemary Kennedy has developed Subtropical Cities Architecture and Design to utilise her large body of work on planning, design and architecture for high-density tropical and sub-tropical cities.

She has left her role as director of the Centre for Subtropical Design at the Queensland University of Technology, which she has held for 12 years, to be a director in the new firm.

“I’m certainly really interested in working with governments at all levels and with design consultants either in-house or bringing some external advice to them,” she said.

Dr Kennedy’s work will involve consulting around Australia and overseas and, currently, a project with a Malaysian university colleague on urban design guidelines for Kuala Lumpur. She also has close contacts in Fort Lauderdale in Florida where conditions are very similar to Brisbane’s in terms of development, climate and lifestyle.

The outlook for climate-responsive urban design is promising, according to Dr Kennedy.

“I think a lot of people have come to the conclusion that the 20th century version of energy-dependent cities and buildings are just not working as we’re transitioning to renewables,” she said. “And here in Brisbane, for example, where sometimes we have tropical conditions and sometimes more temperate conditions, the opportunity to use far less energy through far better design is really exciting and I feel as if the people are really ready to embrace it.”

Climate responsive design has not yet penetrated the massive wave of new apartment buildings

While Brisbane was looking forward with its 2022 New World City Action Plan, and public buildings were becoming more climate responsive, the approach had not yet penetrated the massive wave of new apartment buildings. “But I think the market will demand it in due course,” she said.

Dr Kennedy remains a member of the Independent Design Advisory Panel at Brisbane City Council.

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