Design Life Consulting

Designed to Last: Our take on Sustainable Architecture

As a firm that wishes to make a positive impact on the world with our designs, sustainability is an obvious and key goal when selecting and designing for our projects here at DesignLife Consulting. We are honoured to have worked on some exquisite projects where sustainability was the prime guiding principle.

Sustainable architecture typically implies features like solar panels and green roofing, but it can be much more.

The built environment could also be sustainable in its:

– efficient selection and use of materials and energy sources,

– efficient use of space, lighting, and heating, cooling, and ventilation systems,

– ability to leave the least impact on surrounding nature, and

– ability to be more livable and usable for its occupants, among other elements.

Read on to learn more about the specific attributes of sustainability that our expert architects weaved into our designs.

Materials selected with care

With sustainable design and building, the use of the right materials that minimise the negative impacts on nature is key, especially in addressing the fact that 11% of annual global Co2 emissions are a result of carbon-infused building materials and construction, such as steel or concrete. On the contrary, timber and wood can absorb carbon, are stable, robust, and their wastes are degradable and environmentally-friendly.

That is why in this interior fit-out project for the Timber Merchants Association in Victoria, Australia, we worked our hardest to deliver an interpretive timber presentation space following the requirements put forth by the Department of Sustainability & Environment of Victoria – who were funding the project.

THE CIRCUMSTANCES: Our aim for this project is to create a space that conveyed naturalness and openness, while effectively utilising the overall constrained spaces as we could not move the already existing floor level. 


  • Eliminating the use of toxic or polluting materials, we incorporated sustainably-sourced and locally-produced plantation timber into our design of the interior in an eclectic and open manner, matching the expectations of our client and creating the most naturalistic design.
  • To respond to the space constraint and effectively utilise the limited building size, we designed a staircase, and used the upper-level space as a board room, turning this previously unused space into an architecturally usable and practical space.
  • To transform the space into a sustainable yet aesthetic one, we layered the timber slats horizontally, using hardwood veneers with different textures, stains, shapes and colours, to both preserve quality over time and create an emphasis on the wall paintings and surrounding areas.

Keeping an eye on conservation

To be truly sustainable every aspect of a building’s design needs to be looked through a lens of energy-consciousness, from elements like lighting and ventilation to water use, as well as optimal occupant experience.

THE CIRCUMSTANCES: Our scope for the Akanu Institute of Learning in Ohafia, Nigeria, included an increased focus on energy conservation, adaptability, and accessibility.


Some of our key contributions to fulfilling the sustainability requirement of this great project while reducing its footprint included:

  • Thoughtfully placed solar panels on the terrace that allowed for the most efficient generation of energy, especially electrical energy, for building operations
  • Wide arch shapes that elongate the campus structure as well as allow for future extensions on the upper floor with the growth of the school and student body in mind
  • Wind towers to replace air conditioning while using the surrounding air to improve cooling in the structure to create more efficient temperature comfort control
  • Elevation of ground floor of building from foundation for better cross ventilation, improving air quality and temperature control, and reducing chances of mould formation
  • Green roofing in the form of a vegetable garden that creates opportunity for the availability of fresh and local food, improves air quality and sound insulation, and effectively controls the building temperature to promote better occupant health and experience
  • Rainwater collection points around the structure, which allows for the creation of an additional fresh water source for building operations as well as the reduction of erosion or flooding due to stormwater run-off
  • Vernacular architecture in the form of getting locals of the region to paint art on the structure’s walls to bring about a uniqueness to the project as well as oneness with the nature and society surrounding the building

Flexibility in use

Sustainability could be found in a project’s friendliness to nature. However, often overlooked is the fact that it can also manifest in a built structure’s ability to be flexible and withstand changing climates.

THE CIRCUMSTANCES: Our University of South Pacific campus project in Funafuti, Tuvalu is a great example of this kind of sustainability. It is also an opportunity for the DesignLife team to flex our creative muscles in search of integrating the campus’ design most efficiently into the region’s geography. Energy conservation, overall green principles, and high quality were the most important goals. Climatic threats such as coral bleaching and the rising sea levels around the island were the biggest challenges we had to tackle.


  • Green energy sources and increased ventilation
  • The Match Box Idea: our design focused on allowing the campus to stay safe and operational even in the event of rising ocean levels surrounding the region. Each major space in the building was designed as individual pods that could be pulled out of the overall structure in case of an emergency. We were proud to delight our client with this design that provides the practical touch they were looking for.

We look forward to working on many projects just like these and sharing our story with you!

Want to learn more about our projects or how we can help you?

Reach out to us at or give us a call on +61 (3) 9435 5181.