Building back – better


Recently translated into English, INBAR’s report on Ecuador’s bamboo structures provides important lessons on how to improve the nation’s stock of earthquake-resilient housing.

The report, which can be accessed here, describes the potential for bamboo to be used more widely in Ecuador (and in other countries) to build low-cost housing. It was written in the aftermath of the 7.8Mw quake that struck Ecuador’s northern coast in April 2016, which destroyed around 35,000 homes and killed hundreds of people. According to the report authors, “the tragedy provided several lessons on building systems and the importance of establishing conditions that reduce the vulnerability of people living in areas of seismic activity.”

In Ecuador bamboo is an abundant material that has traditionally been used over the centuries as a material for sustainable, low-cost housing in the coastal regions. Bamboo is largely recognised as a good form of earthquake resistant housing, as has been observed after several earthquakes in Costa Rica (1991) and Colombia (1999).

Topics covered include the high tolerance of bamboo to earthquake loads, how homes can be built from bamboo to make them earthquake-resistant, and how to ensure that homes built from bamboo have lasting durability. The report also covers the availability of bamboo supplies and how these might be improved.

Key facts from the report include:

The report makes the following recommendations:

The report can be accessed here. It can be cited as:

van Drunen N.; Cangás A; Rojas S.; Kaminsky S. 2016. Post-earthquake report on bamboo structures and recommendations for reconstruction with bamboo on the Ecuadorian coast [McInally J., Trans]. INBAR: Quito, Ecuador.