Eco-Village @ Rainforest


Located in the difficult to access rainforest of Borneo the eco village is a masterplan and building designs for a forestry company. The client’s program of sustainable reforestation created an increase in staff numbers, requiring the provision of housing, offices, classrooms and local clinic for a workforce of 300 people.

Of particular importance for the client was the retention of staff over time, as well as the ease of buildability and low cost of the various buildings. It became necessary to consider the accommodation of families, on site education of children and provision of a high standard of facilities for work and play.

Designing with Country was an important consideration due to the proximity of local tribes and the sensitive ecology of the area.


The usual difficulties of the local climate were compounded by shortages of skilled labour, materials, specialised trades & construction systems. None existed. In addition the area lacks infrastructure for drinking water, sewer, and energy supply.

Distance to towns impacted on food supplies, including the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. This in turn impacted the staff’s diets and wellbeing. By including a botanist in our team we were able to improve local soils through carbon-capture, allowing families to cultivate small farming plots.


At its heart Eco-Village @ Rainforest is a sustainable community. The community is autonomous, generating its own electricity, harvesting rainwater and processing all waste on site. These systems were designed at both village-scale and the scale of individual buildings, therefore incorporating resilience into the project. All buildings are designed using local materials and minimal intrusion into the landscape. Buildings are modular and can be built without specialised construction skills by local labour and at low cost. Shelter@Rainforest was the first of the accommodation buildings to be completed.

Comfort is achieved solely through passive design, the buildings maintaining an indoor temperature of 26C max when the outdoor temperature is at 34C. Passive design also induces constant ventilation even in still air conditions, providing comfortable conditions.

Eco-Village @ Rainforest provides a model of sustainable development that successfully applies Design with Country principles: utilising local materials, environmental and biophilic design, cultural knowledge and practices are combined to create architecture that benefits the whole ecosystem.



PMI Engineers