If you are planning to build or renovate in the tropics or sub tropics there are a few key considerations you need to take into account. From my personal experience, it pays to hire an architect that has worked in the tropics previously and preferably lives there themselves. Also, don’t make the same mistake I did and build in the wet season, plan your project so that you aim to have the building water tight by the time the rains come or it can really hinder progress on the build!
In terms of design, consider getting as much movement of air as possible through the house to cool. A great way to achieve this is, is to include as many exterior folding doors or sliding doors as possible which can really help to open up the entire house to get any breeze to flow through the living areas. Be sure to integrate an insect screen in the design though as I think I would rather live in a hot house free of bugs than a cool house full of mosquitoes! There are a host of elegant, contemporary screen solutions available on the market today such as the products Brio make that combine superbly with a most sliding and folding door hardware. In fact Brio has a many options in terms of sizes and combinations of both doors and screens to suit virtually all buildings so make sure you check them out.
Building materials also need to be carefully considered so that they do not store too much heat and shed heat quickly. Avoid large mass materials like brick or concrete as these will soak up heat in the day and continue to radiate heat at night. If they must be used, ensure they well shaded from sun most of the day or they will actually heat up the air around the house as well. The walls and ceiling should however be well insulated no matter the material and windows protected with eaves.
A long and thin layout can work very well in warmer climates as you can include at least 2 windows or bifold doors in as many rooms as possible for maximum cross ventilation. Bedrooms in particular should have at least 2 openings which can be in the form of exterior sliding door hardware or large windows that open using door hardware traditionally used on sliding door tracks rather than conventionally hinged windows. That way the window can be fully opened to allow breezes in. I have even seen some very clever architecture that allowed the inhabitants to move entire walls, effectively reducing the main living area to a roof and floor. The walls were made of a high-tech light weight material and rolled on heavy duty bottom rolling door hardware.