Home General Bamboo house for Manila slums wins top design prize

Bamboo house for Manila slums wins top design prize


November 23, 2018 16:30:27

The creator of a low-cost house made of bamboo to tackle the chronic shortage of affordable housing in the Philippine capital has won a top international prize to design future cities.

Key points:

  • The house can be built in just four hours
  • It costs only about $100 per square metre
  • The tilted roof design captures rainwater and reduces heat gain

Earl Forlales, 23, won the first prize from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in its Cities for our Future competition.

The prize money of 50,000 pounds ($88,000) will fund a prototype, as well as actual units.

The house, known as CUBO, uses engineered bamboo, and can be put together in just four hours at a cost of just over $100 per square metre.

The modular housing, which can be manufactured in a week, includes design elements such as a tilted roof that captures rainwater and reduces heat gain, and elevated stilts that prevent floodwaters from entering the home.

“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,” said John Hughes, competition judge and president of RICS.

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

Of Manila’s population of 12 million, about a third live in slums, possibly the most in any urban area in the world, charities estimate.

Many residents are migrants from the provinces who come in search of better opportunities, and cannot afford housing.

An additional 2.5 million migrant workers are forecast to move to the city in the next three years.

The backlog for government housing in the Philippines is about 5.5 million, campaigners estimate.

Mr Forlales, a graduate in material science engineering, said he took inspiration for CUBO from the bamboo hut his grandparents lived in outside Manila.

CUBO will first be used to house the incoming worker population in the short term, and then extended to the city’s slums.

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

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

CUBO can be built in any city where bamboo is available, including most of South-East Asia, and parts of Africa and Latin America, he said.

The inaugural Cities for our Future competition — run by RICS and supported by the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO and the Association of Commonwealth Universities — drew more than 1,200 entries.


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