This bamboo house design could be the future of sustainable housing
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This bamboo house design could be the future of sustainable housing

A LOW-COST home made of bamboo designed by a young Filipino engineer could be a major answer to providing sustainable housing to the urban poor and even those looking to own environmentally-friendly homes.

For the design of the innovative home, 23-year-old Earl Forlales, won the top international to design future cities in a rapidly urbanising world.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which held the Cities for our Future competition, awarded Forlales GBP50,000 pounds (US$63,915) to fund the physical prototype of the house.

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According to the RICS, the house, kown as CUBO, uses engineered bamboo and can be built within four hours at a cost of 60 pounds per square metre, Reuters reported.

With design elements such as a tilted roof that captures rainwater and reduces heat gain, the modular housing could be manufactured within a week.

Elevated stilts around the house prevent floodwaters from entering the home, making it ideal for tropical countries like the Philippines which was prone to the natural disaster.

According to The Guardian, the design’s use of bamboo – which releases 35 percent more oxygen into the environment than trees – was praised by the judges.

Apart from most of Southeast Asia, countries in Africa and South America — where bamboo is readily avalailable — could also benefit from the economical design.


View of slums in Manila with city skyline on the horizon. Image via Shutterstock

John Hughes, competition judge and president of RICS, said: “The world’s cities are growing all the time and there is a real need to make sure they are safe, clean and comfortable places to live in.”

Hughes added: “Earl’s idea stood out for its simple, yet well thought through solution to the world’s growing slum problem.”

About a third of Manila’s 12 population live in slums which is possibly one of the highest numbers in any urban area in the world, according to estimates.

The residents of the slums comprised many from other parts of the country who came to the capital for better opportunities but could not afford proper housing.

In the next three years, Manila is expected to receive another 2.5 million migrant workers.

Forlales, who graduated in material science engineering, said the inspiration to build CUBO came from a bamboo hut where his grandparents lived outside Manilla.

SEE ALSO: Why the Philippines might trim its number of expats soon 

Forlales said CUBO would be used to house the new worker population in the short term and the housing could be extended to the city’s slums. He added that his plan included providing residents with jobs and new skills.

“The affordable housing solution must necessarily be low-cost, sustainable, robust and long-lasting. We cannot make do with band-aid solutions,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Housing opens up opportunities, so the solution must be decent and dignified, giving residents access to all necessary amenities for a better life,” he said.