Thermal performance of student-built naturally ventilated remote accommodation in Fish River, NT

  • YEAR
    Kroll, David
    Weijers-Coghlan, Joti
    Brambilla, Arianna
    2022 Conference Papers
    Conference Papers


Remote accommodation in tropical Australia is often characterised by poor thermal performance and enormous energy costs when mechanical cooling systems are installed. Fish River Station, located in the Northern Territory, features a series of bala balas; tent-like structures to host aboriginal rangers working on-site, offering only a roof to shed beds from the rain and no additional features to provide thermal comfort. This paper is part of the Fish River project, a 3-year-long student design-build project to retrofit two of the bala balas to improve living conditions for the rangers. This paper reports on the thermal performance of one of the comprehensively retrofitted bala balas, enhanced with roof insulation and other upgrades to reduce radiant heat and improve overall thermal comfort inside. The retrofitted bala bala and an original, unmodified bala bala were monitored simultaneously (temperature/humidity/radiant heat). The authors expected to find significant improvements in thermal comfort due to the upgrades. The data shows that the upgrades resulted in overall improvements in indoor comfort. However, they also caused a thermal lag and heat retention at nighttime and during the early morning hours. The study shows that the effectiveness of roof insulation needs to be considered carefully depending on the local climate and how the accommodation is used.

Keywords: building performance, thermal comfort, natural ventilation, indoor environmental quality.


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