earl patrick forlales, a 23-year-old from manila, has designed a system of low-cost modular residences to help solve housing problems in the philippines. inspired by the materials used on his grandparent’s rural home, forlales explored the potential of bamboo, and, although the scheme has been designed for low-income communities in manila, the ideas behind it can be applied to any city where bamboo can be grown — including most of southeast asia and parts of africa and latin america.

cubo modular bamboo housing
the units can be grouped together around a central courtyard



with a population of more than 12 million people, manila is one of the fastest growing megacities in east asia. currently, a third of the city’s population live in slums, with 2.5 million workers expected to move to manila in the next three years to work on the government’s infrastructure program. forlales’ design — named ‘CUBO’ — could be used to house the incoming worker population in the short term, before being applied to the wider city.

cubo modular bamboo housing
the bamboo will be treated and laminated, meaning its lifecycle is 10 times longer than normal



as a result of the simple modular design and cheap materials, the houses can be constructed in just four hours at a cost of only £60 per square meter. meanwhile, homes can be join together so that residents can take advantage of communal kitchens, bathrooms, or offices, and foster a sense of community. based on current forecasts, the units would be able to rent for £0.20 per day, which means each unit would turn a profit within 5.1 years. the cost of £0.20 per day also represents a significant saving over existing alternatives available in manila, and makes the unit affordable for even the city’s lowest paid workers.

cubo modular bamboo housing
communal facilities intend to foster a sense of community



from a design perspective, tilted roofs capture rainwater and reduce heat gain, while elevated stilts prevent floodwaters from entering the home. forlales has also developed a business plan that will provide local people with not just housing, but new skills, jobs and community space. he also proposes raising money for the project by selling waste plastic to factories.

cubo modular bamboo housing
the units would be able to rent for £0.20 per day



CUBO recently won the RICS cities for our future competition, which will fund forlales’ development of the project in 2019. the contest called on young designers to respond to the pressing themes of rapid urbanization, climate change, and resource scarcity. ‘this is a huge step forward to helping the people of manila,’ said forlales on winning the competition. ‘the state of housing in the city is at crisis point, and will undoubtedly get worse with this new influx of workers. CUBO started as nothing more than an idea, conceived while spending time at my grandparent’s house — it is incredible to think that it now will become a reality.’


the competition-winning design

cubo modular bamboo housing
the modular solution uses locally sourced bamboo

cubo modular bamboo housing
a unit can be constructed within 4 hours

cubo modular bamboo housing
the scheme’s potential configuration

philip stevens I designboom

nov 26, 2018



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