Temporal bamboo houses

Designed and developped in Fablab Puebla

Humanitarian Furniture & house

“Temporal bamboo houses” is a project which consists in building temporal bamboo houses in a short period of time to help population recover from a natural disaster.

Technologies used

Wood working tools Computing & softwares

What’s the project story?

After the devastating earthquake on 19th Septembre 2017, more than 500 houses were damaged. This natural disaster especially affected the city of San Juan Pilcaya where 80% of the community lost their habitation. To quickly support these 1600 inhabitants, the institute IDIT, where the fablab is located, created the “Temporal houses projects” in collaboration with Grupo Bambú Puebla (an organisation that promotes bamboo in Puebla) and DICMA TRADE (a bamboo building company). Each organisation provided its core competencies to the project : Grupo Bambu dealt with the bamboo supply from the Sierra Nororiental region of Puebla, DICMA TRADE provided the designs and its good practices in terms of construction and IDIT was responsable of the organisation, communication and making part. In 2 weeks, they succeeded to leverage fundings, to design houses, to gather volunteers and to build 20 houses, each for a 6 persons family.

How the workshop was useful to the maker(s)?

By being at the heart of a famous and large institute, the fablab quickly gathered 200 students and citizens and produced daily 2 houses with 56 bamboo panels.
To achieve this performance, the project was divided in 2 parts. It started with a learning phase where the team taught volunteers how to produce the bamboo panels with the traditional machines while making the first 10 houses. This tool choice has been made so that anyone can reproduce it without digital machine required. They also produced a project documentation to empower citizens and make them assembl easily panels to create their own house that fit their needs. Then, during the “running phase”, they let the team produce by themselves the panels for the 10 remaining houses. The team was also in charge of the logistics and coordination of the volunteers.

What’s the project’s greatest success far?

The greatest success was the feedback of the inhabitants who were grateful for the houses. But this success in a record time wouldn’t have be possible without the unexpected rallying of people to support this project. First, it came with the media coverage. In two weeks, the project got a international reputation, with dozens of articles and thousands of tweets. This enabled us to quickly leverage fundings and to gather a team of more than 200 volunteers involved all along the project.

What’s your greatest failure(s)& lesson(s) so far?

Unlike the external communication, the most difficult part was the intern communication with the 3 organisations involved. The difference of media coverage between partners created tensions in the relationships which threatened the success of the project. This experience brought us a lot in term of project management and communication skills.

What’s your vision for the project & next steps?

Through this experience, we learnt a lot about the bamboos properties and its potential to address social emergency. However, we would like to improve the long term support of the beneficiaries. First, we need to improve the shelters so that it only lasts one year. The risk is to worsen the population conditions by giving them a shelter which could last later but with poor living conditions. Thus, as a complement, we are designing a university program to help citizens build their definitive house according to their traditions, needs and context and another program to offer them bamboo furnitures. We want to give them all the keys for a full recovery.

How can anyone interested can contribute to the project?

By contacting us to share their knowledge about emergency bamboos houses or to get advices or designs to apply the project in their city.

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