Last July Base Bahay Foundation, Inc. (BBFI) was invited to speak at this year’s Asia Pacific Housing Forum (APHF). The Housing Forum was a 3-day conference organized by Habitat for Humanity with the aim to connect stakeholders engaged in finding solutions for inadequate shelter issues and promoting affordable housing as a driver of economic growth. Both Base Bahay Foundation’s General Manager Maricen Jalandoni, and Head of Product Development Engineer Luis Lopez were invited to speak.
After Ms. Jalandoni presented as a plenary speaker for the AP Housing forum 2019, Mr. Lopez was also invited as speaker for the afternoon break out session to talk about the Cement Bamboo Frame technology as an affordable housing solution. During his talk, Luis highlighted the importance of seeing bamboo for its unique resiliency, a natural resource largely underappreciated and underestimated in the Philippines despite its structural renown in his hometown in Colombia and its Latin American neighbors, as well as other parts of Asia.
Luis began with a brief history of the Bahareque technology, a building method originating from Colombia whose evolution and development shone after the age-old structures withstood some of the biggest earthquakes that have destroyed entire cities of steel-cement frames. Luis himself was part of the research group that worked on the Bahareque building code that was published in 2002, after the local government saw the urgent need for structural resiliency in the face of Colombia’s constant earthquake threat.
Later, Luis talked about how Bahareque roots have led to the development of the Cement Bamboo Frame Technology (or CBF): a bamboo building technology using local Philippine bamboo, engineered for the trials of Philippine climate. After years of research and development, Luis and Base Bahay have since identified local bamboo species for structural-grade building, computed for loadbearing requirements, developed bamboo treatment methods against infestation, passed the minimum 1-hour fire rating, and typhoon wind tests simulated by placing actual housing designs in one of the most typhoon-hit areas of the Philippines: Guinubatan, Albay. This, along with having met all requirements of conventional housing under the National Structural Code of the Philippines, resulted in the Cement Bamboo Frame Technology’s accreditation under the Accreditation of Innovative Technologies or AITECH under the National Housing Authority. Base has since provided proof of concept through over 600 houses all around the Philippines.
While the building method has proven itself so far, Luis emphasized that the learning has not stopped. Constant research and development are on-going, with the hope of further developing the technology, as well as any other alternative technologies and building methods that utilize Bamboo. In the end, it isn’t about the material, but how it is used.