Shelter @ Rainforest : Green Architecture


Shelter@Rainforest showcases green architecture, a zero-energy house in the deep jungle of Borneo. As the first prototype of an eco village and community being implemented over time, this zero-energy house provides accommodation for the manager and guests of the forestry company with stewardship over this land. An ecological approach led to a collaboration incorporating green architecture, forestry, botany and anthropology. The design is a modular system, using local sustainable materials and small timber sections. These considerations allowed us to overcome the difficulties of a remote location, lack of infrastructure and few skilled builders.


The design has been influenced by the vernacular longhouses of the area with their frugal timber constructions and also by Thoreau’s Walden Pond with its message of simple living and self sufficiency. These considerations were functional as much as they were poetic – the house is low cost, zero-energy through solar electricity and sustainable design. It includes large overhangs and verandahs to protect the inner areas from heat gain. Daylight is indirectly bounced into the interiors to provide soft lighting. Constant ventilation is ensured via protected and screened openings. Despite the tropical latitude the indoor temperature peaks at 26C at high noon, a full 8-10 degrees lower than the outdoor environment. Sustainable design ensures occupants are comfortable as they go about their day. In addition to achieving zero-energy consumption the house incorporates biogas units, waste recycling and rainwater collection.


Shelter is on one level the house of a family and their guests, sharing the long verandah where conversation is the only form of entertainment. On another level it is a symbol of craft, care and environmental stewardship.