Saturday, March 10, 2007

Grow Your Own House


Around Cullowhee these days, the hope is that they’ll stop building multi-million dollar houses on every side of every mountain. But the money hasn’t run out yet, even though it flows like water.

People in other places, suffering differently from this disease of affluence, are trying to find shelter. Our proposal to Grow Your Own Home was not entirely a lark. Let’s look at this from another angle.

The United Nations estimates that at least one hundred million (100,000,000) people in the world have no home. If those with poor quality housing are included, the number is more than one billion (1,000,000,000). And the news only gets worse, as the total number of homeless is growing (Worldwide housing needs are expected to double over the next 50 years. In Africa alone, they are expected to grow more than threefold.) While awareness about the critical need for more affordable housing has grown, the solutions have not.
…so begins Bamboo as a Construction Material:
It is a highly functional, beautiful, earthquake-indifferent material. Bamboo occurs in many sizes, many degrees of hardness, and many grades of color and occupies a wide range of habitats. It is possible to build multiple-storey buildings with bamboo. Whereas trees must be replanted when they are harvested, bamboo roots sprout up again quickly.

Colombian architect Simon Velez has designed a two-story, 65 square-meter bamboo home. This beautiful home requires only 100 pieces of five-meter long bamboo, which can be harvested in four to five years on 500 square meters of land. You can now „Grow your own house".
The problem of 100 million people living without homes could be met by planting bamboo on only 500,000 HA of land. The State of Rio de Janeiro alone, plagued by its bad image of favelas (slums), has an area sufficient for this.

A two-story house constructed by carpenters in Calarca, Colombia, on a cement foundation, costs only 8 million pesos (approximately US$ 5,300 dollar). Doing it yourself drops the costs to an estimated US$ 1,700.

Too much carbon in the atmosphere causes global warming and the greenhouse effect. Although one cubic meter of mature bamboo sequesters less carbon dioxide than one meter of pinewood, it grows exceptionally quickly and requires a relatively small amount of land.

The article goes on to provide more details about the ZERI Pavilion. At over 120 feet in diameter and over 50 feet high, it is one of the largest bamboo structures in the world. The book, Grow Your Own House, expands on the theme:

The highly visual and engaging Grow Your Own House will open your eyes to the beauty and lightness of bamboo structures and designs. Bamboo--a widely available and renewable resource almost as strong as steel, yet very light--lends itself to architectural experiments. Buckminster Fuller, Frei Otto, Renzo Piano, Shoei Yoh, and Arata Isozaki are a few of the millions of people worldwide using bamboo to create space and structure around them. Author and architect Simón Vélez pioneered bamboo construction in his home country of Colombia. …Grow Your Own House includes all the latest trends of this cutting-edge revival. The integration of the seeming dichotomies of high-tech and sustainability, global thinking and regional traditions definitely makes the future look brighter.

See Also:
ZERI – Zero emissions research initiative "The revolution of the farmhouse, hand in hand with the improvement of the livelihood of the farmer and his family, will stem the exodus from rural areas to the city, creating a future generation of farmers dedicated to living in co-evolution with nature."

World Bamboo Organization "New Delhi,India - A wonder product made of bamboo and jute natural fibre will now help schoolchildren in Kargil attend classes comfortably, even when its freezing outside..."

BOTA – Bamboo of the Americas "Your commitment to the future of our American bamboo will help rescue our favorite plant from the uncertainty of population growth in Mexico and Brazil and set the example for Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador and Chile further down the road."

Bamboo Biodiversity "Communities in Africa, Madagascar and the Americas depend on bamboos for construction, cookery and agriculture. Bamboo also feeds and protects some of the world’s critically endangered species, such as the golden bamboo lemur and the giant panda. The report, compiled in association with INBAR (International Network for Bamboo and Rattan), shows that conservation and sustainable management of wild bamboos should be a priority in the regions assessed, and highlights the increasing threat to bamboos caused by deforestation."

Bamboo Living "It produces greater biomass and 30% more oxygen than a hardwood forest on the same area, while improving watersheds, preventing erosion, restoring soil, providing sweet edible shoots and removing toxins from contaminated soil. Bamboo produces structural beams, flooring, wall paneling, fencing and many more sustainable by-products of environmental restoration."

1000 things made of bamboo "Our goal is to collect 1000 items made of bamboo. This collection of pictures is an idea of Wolfgang Eberts."

Grow Your Second Home "Each house will take at least five years to grow, depending in the climate, but Joachim envisions the structures being grown and tended to on a farm."

Pictures are from Koolbamboo

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