Today, there are over a thousand homes sheltering some 4,000 individuals across 12 self-sustaining communities in the Philippines.
These numbers are proof of a social movement that is demonstrating what the future of socialized housing and construction could look like, founded on on a humble species of grass: the bamboo.
Base Bahay Foundation, a nonprofit outfit that works with a network of construction partners in utilizing bamboo to create sustainable and resilient housing solutions, is spearheading the movement. It specifically targets low-income, disaster-stricken communities.
More durable, affordable structure
Central to Base Bahay’s work is the use of cement-bamboo frame technology, a combination of bamboo housing and conventional technology, that make for a more durable, and, most importantly, affordable structure, said Pablo Jorillo, Base Bahay general manager.
Speaking recently at a forum hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Region VII, Jorillo claimed cement-bamboo frame technology is typhoon, earthquake, fire and insect-resistant, and ican last for more than 50 years.
He added that the technology is accredited by the National Housing Authority through the Accreditation of Innovative Technologies for Housing (AITECH).
Central to Base Bahay’s work are bamboo research and education and efforts toward the recognition of bamboo as sustainable building material. Jorillo emphasized that though bamboo has yet to become a mainstream construction material, the infrastructure industry has recently begun to create standards for its use.
Sparking a revolution in sustainable housing
Last month, the Department of Trade and Industry adopted ISO 22156:2021, the bamboo structural design international standard for use in bamboo one- to two-storey house structures. This underscored bamboo’s mechanical resistance, serviceability, durability, load-bearing capacity design, and allowable stress design.
“After the release of the PNS 22156 last the year, the next step would be for these standards to be included in the National Structural Code of the Philippines,” Jorillo said “Such a development can spark a revolution not just in housing, but for sustainability of the environment at large.”
“Bamboo is able to provide people with decent work—from harvesting to transport to treatment, and to the creation of consumer products and, of course, construction,” Jorillo noted.
In terms of climate change mitigation, Jorillo pointed out that bamboo helps enhance biodiversity, improves soil quality, and actively sequesters excess carbon in the atmosphere.
Future of mother earth
“Say you have a one-hectare bamboo plantation that can produce up to 500-600 bamboo poles to be used for construction of houses; that can already sequester up to 134 tons of carbon,” Jorillo claimed.
Citing a DTI report, the country has 84,000 hectares of bamboo, with plantations mostly in Davao and Mindanao. Of the 12 most “economically important” species of bamboo across the globe, there are two that are prolific in the Philippines: Kawayan Tinik (Bambusa blumeana) and Buho (Schizostachyum lumampao).
“Bamboo isn’t just the future of construction. It’s the future of livelihood; it’s the future of mother earth,” Jorillo said.