International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

Bamboo housing design accessible for the middle class in the Philippines


Bamboo housing design accessible for the middle class in the Philippines

A social enterprise in the Philippines is building bamboo houses that are appealing to the middle class.

Kawayan Collective, a bamboo social enterprise initially launched in partnership with the non-governmental organisation Base Bahay Foundation, is introducing an affordable new bamboo housing design in the Philippines, that with a crew of 10 people can be built in just eight months.

The house in the making. Credit: Kawayan Collective

The construction of the house uses a traditional building technique known in the Philippines as tabique pampango, also known as wattle, dau or bahareque. The technique was used in the Philippines, and other countries in Latin America, during the Spanish colonial period. At the time, bamboo, timber, and plaster (a mixture of mortar, seashells, gravel, clay and other materials) were combined to form walls for churches and other buildings. Examples of bamboo buildings that deploy this technique have stood for over 200 years, withstanding large earthquakes, paving the way for bamboo to be recognised in the building code of countries in South America.

The interior of the house. Credit: Kawayan Collective

This cement-bamboo-frame house is a 130m2 loft with two bedrooms on the ground floor. Bamboo features as the primary structural support, and including the interior and exterior finishes, the house is 80% bamboo. A large, insulated roof and screened windows allow for good airflow and minimize the need for air conditioning or daytime lighting; the design is beautifully crafted to celebrate the traditional forms of the Philippines’s Architecture. The house costs PHP 2.5 million (roughly USD 50,000).

Bamboo frames in the making. Credit: Kawayan Collective

Nowadays, Base Bahay Foundation, with its mission to improve socialized housing with treated bamboo, is leading the use of the ‘tabique pampango’ technique in the country under the name ‘cement-bamboo-frame’. Houses using this technique have withstood major typhoons with winds of 220 km/h, making them safer but also cheaper: houses build like this are 20% cheaper than the concrete hollow block and steel equivalents.

These types of bamboo houses help to create sustainable cities and communities, not only for the house dwellers but also for the supplier of the bamboo: the farmers, cutters and processors who can build a livelihood from a previously undervalued local resource, to say nothing of the resulting climate change mitigation that follows from using the world’s fastest-growing grass that also captures carbon.

“In our design, bamboo is no longer confined to a ‘poor man’s timber’ or high-end tropical resort”

Kawayan Collective

The exterior of the finished cement-bamboo-frame house. Credit: Kawayan Collective

Kawayan Collective facilities in Dauin, Negros Oriental also process over 300 bamboo poles a week into construction-grade treated poles, engineered bamboo panels and houseware products.

Check out Bamboo and Rattan Update’s article on the Bahareque technique.

The Republic of the Philippines is a founding Member State of INBAR, joining on 6 November 1997.


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