Low-cost bamboo house wins international award for Manila designer

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bamboo house
The low-cost bamboo housing unit that won a young Manila designer $50,000 in an international competition.

A 23-year-old designer from Manila has won a UK prize for a low-cost bamboo house that takes just four hours to construct.

Earl Patrick Forlales has pocketed £50,000 ($64,385) for his £50 per square metre building that could help tackle the the slum problem in the Philippines, and elsewhere.

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Speaking to the BBC World Service today (Friday, November 23), he said: “It’s a functional home on its own, but it’s more than just a house. It’s designed to turn community waste into energy and other valuable resources.”

Mr Forlales, who studied material science engineering, will use the prize money from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) ’Cities for our Future’ competition to start work on his CUBO housing units next year.

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.

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

An estimated four million people live in Manila’s slums, with another 2.5 million more workers expected to arrive over the next three years.

Mr Forlales’ CUBO homes could be used to house the newcomers, before being rolled out across existing slum areas.

Inspired by grandparents’ bamboo house

The designer was inspired by his grandparent’s traditional bamboo house. In the case of the CUBO houses, the bamboo will be treated and laminated to last 10-times longer than usual.

Bamboo is an eco-friendly building material, as while growing it releases 35 per cent more oxygen than trees and can be harvested annually without causing soil degradation.

Mr Forlales has already identified a plot of land in Manila for the first homes, and hopes his design will help other crowded cities too. The design is viable anywhere that bamboo grows — such as throughout South-East Asia.

“CUBO started as nothing more than an idea, conceived while spending time at my grandparent’s house. It is incredible to think that it now will become a reality,” Mr Forlales said.

“I would like to thank RICS for the opportunity to develop the idea, and look forward to working with them to put this money to good use in Manila, and then hopefully elsewhere around the world.”

The inaugural Cities for our Future competition —  supported by the UK’s National Commission for UNESCO and the Association of Commonwealth Universities — drew more than 1,200 entries from across the world.

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