Bamboo houses aims to solve the housing crisis in Manila slums

Materials World magazine
19 Dec 2018

A modular bamboo house concept aimed at resolving the housing crisis in the Manila slums has won the RICS Cities for our Future competition. Idha Valeur reports.

CUBO, a sustainable modular housing project intended to provide affordable and environmentally friendly housing in Manila, the Philippines, has won the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Cities for the Future competition.

The RICS judging panel made note of the modular design that combines speed and affordability – CUBO components can be manufactured in a week, constructed in four hours, and cost
£60/m2 – as well as design elements, including a tilted roof that collects rainwater and reduces heat gain, and a business plan that provides employment to the local community and is actionable to any city where bamboo is grown.

The winner, 23-year-old Earl Patrick Forlales, won £50,000 to develop his concept, inspired by his grandparents’ house. Bamboo is eco-friendly and can be converted to biochar charcoal, often used in soil amendments. The bamboo used in CUBO will be treated and laminated, extending its life up to 10 times over untreated bamboo.

Forlales had two specific demographics in mind with his design, being the people expected to be drawn to Manila over the next three years to work on infrastructure programmes set up by the government, and the four million Manilians – a third of the city’s population – currently living in slums.

‘This is a huge step forward to help the people of Manila. The state of housing is at crisis point, and will undoubtedly get worse with this new influx of workers,’ he said.

Dr Beth Taylor, competition judge and Chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, said, ‘As more and more of the world’s population become city dwellers, finding ways to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities – has never been more important.

‘One of the reasons why Earl’s entry stood out from the other finalists was through its use of traditional, sustainable technologies and materials, to solve an issue facing modern cities across the world.’