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H&P Unveils Low-Cost Bamboo Home Design

When it comes to construction in Vietnam - from one-story shops to luxury office towers - one will find bricks on every site. For more than a century, these unassuming orange squares have literally laid the foundation for Vietnam’s cities, factories and commercial hubs. But local architecture firm, H&P, has released a new bamboo-based housing design that will address the multitude of housing challenges facing communities in flood-prone areas.

Bricks are the obvious choice for construction in Vietnam and in many countries around the globe. According to greenbuildingelements.com:

 “For starters, let’s take a look at the materials that go into brick: clay and water. That’s it. No complex chemicals, no exotic compounds, no imported components. At the end of its life, a brick is effectively just a manufactured clay stone with a special shape. It breaks down into earth since it comes from earth. Clay mining is comparatively benign, compared to ore mining for metals, which requires far more material to be extracted and processed to produce the finished product. Clay is not a resource that is in short supply, which makes it a more attractive material to use, as well.”

The downside? Bricks require a comparatively large amount of energy to produce. Whether driving west or north from Saigon, one will encounter a steady stream of large brick making factories with smoke billowing from their chimneys. Inside these factories, thousands of bricks make their way into large ovens where they are baked for several hours. Even with this energy-intensive process, there are few building materials that are as readily available, easily replenished and require only natural energy to create. Luckily, Vietnam is home to one such material. Behold, Bamboo!

Bamboo has long been a topic of folk stories in Vietnam. A bamboo cane was the weapon of choice for Vietnamese legendary hero, Saint Giong. It is also central to the plot of Vietnamese legend: The Hundred-knot Bamboo Tree, the tale of an impoverished laborer who, with some divine intervention, overcomes impossible obstacles to marry the love of his life. That sounds familiar…

Bamboo is an ideal building material due to its high strength-to-weight ratio and has been used as such in SE Asia for thousands of years. And now, with Vietnam’s increasing vulnerability to flooding, bamboo may see a great resurgence. H&P recently unveiled their new designs for modular bamboo homes which can overcome the threats of flooding with the aid of another common building characteristic of Vietnam – floating houses:

“The low-cost housing project is situated in a flood-stricken region that receives extreme temperatures year-round. Meeting the basic residential needs of a residential dwelling, the building will be assembled using minimal components and bamboo module units. Secured using anchors, ties and solid connections, the structure will be strong enough to float in floods. Built with local materials such as bamboo, leaves and recycled oil containers, the concept combines traditional architectural characteristics to distinguish the exterior fabric. Costing just under 2000USD per unit, the plan allows for mass-production, and the ability for villagers to build themselves.”

While none of these houses have been built yet, the concept addresses some of the biggest challenges facing Vietnam – sustainability, flexibility in a changing climate where flooding will only become more common and local sourcing/construction.

We probably won’t see many of these popping up in Saigon anytime soon (though parts of D4 could definitely use them in the rainy season) but it’s nice to see things trending in this direction.

For more details on this design, head over to designboom.com.

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