Mak­ing Bam­boo Houses Eas­ier to Build

Southern Innovator - - CITIES & URBANIZATION -

More than 1 bil­lion peo­ple around the world lack de­cent shel­ter. The ma­jor­ity of them live in ur­ban ar­eas, usu­ally in slums and in­for­mal set­tle­ments (Un-habi­tat). Latin Amer­ica has a se­ri­ous short­age of ad­e­quate hous­ing: in Colom­bia, 43 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion needs de­cent hous­ing; in Brazil, it is 45 per cent; in Peru, 53 per cent.

The chal­lenge is to pro­vide good-qual­ity homes with­out sig­nif­i­cantly harm­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and with con­strained bud­gets. Bam­boo – cheap, strong, quickly re­new­able and beau­ti­ful to look at – is an ideal so­lu­tion to re­place tra­di­tional-wood lum­ber. In Bo­livia, pi­o­neer­ing work is un­der way to im­prove the qual­ity of homes and build­ings made with bam­boo.

Bam­boo is the fastest-grow­ing woody plant in the world,some­times­growingover1me­trea­day.bo­livia has about 17 iden­ti­fied bam­boo species of which five have a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic value. Around the world, there are 1,000 species of bam­boo. They grow in a wide va­ri­ety of cli­mates, from cold moun­tains to hot trop­i­cal re­gions.

The most pop­u­lar species of bam­boo used in South Amer­ica is Guadua, which is known for be­ing large, straight and at­trac­tive.

“In Bo­livia, there is no other build­ing ma­te­rial more com­pet­i­tive in costs,” said Jose Luis Reque Cam­pero, co­or­di­na­tor of the Bol­bambu Pro­gramme of the Ar­chi­tec­tural Re­search In­sti­tute, Uni­ver­si­dad Mayor de San Si­mon, Bo­livia.

“Bam­boo is the ma­te­rial that re­quires less energy, fol­lowed by wood and con­crete, with steel in last place, need­ing energy for its pro­duc­tion that is 50 times greater than that re­quired by bam­boo. But the big­gest ad­van­tage is cer­tainly the pos­si­bil­ity of plant­ing bam­boo, and then reap­ing houses,” he said.

Cam­pero has fo­cused his ef­forts on a key com­po­nent of bam­boo hous­ing: the joints that bind the bam­boo poles to­gether. Driven by the de­sire to find ways to im­prove the ease of build­ing bam­boo homes and their strength, Cam­pero came up with the Bam­boo Bo­livia Space Struc­tures, Struc­tural Sys­tem: EVO (BBSS-EVO) (named af­ter Bo­livia’s pres­i­dent, Evo Mo­rales). Tra­di­tional joints took a long time to make and re­quired power tools and com­plex in­struc­tion man­u­als. Sim­pli­fy­ing the build­ing tech­niques nec­es­sary for bam­boo con­struc­tion was im­por­tant be­cause, while bam­boo was cheap, the labour costs were high.

The joint looks like a gi­ant two-headed Q-tip. Each end is made of four pieces of bam­boo, con­nected by a long screw, with bolts on each end taken from old cars. The joint is in­serted in­side the bam­boo poles and snaps shut, join­ing poles tightly to­gether and, as each piece is as­sem­bled, look­ing like a child’s build­ing toy as the struc­ture of the bam­boo home takes shape.

The new joint was eas­ier to as­sem­ble and was quickly adopted by lo­cal builders. It also al­lows for a vast range of struc­tures and shapes to be built, lim­ited only by imag­i­na­tion and physics. – (De­cem­ber 2008)

The Bam­boo Bo­livia Space Struc­tures, Struc­tural Sys­tem: EVO (BBSS-EVO)

so­lu­tion tech­nol­ogy.

An ex­am­ple of the de­sign flex­i­bil­ity of­fered by the BBSS-EVO joint.

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