Upon close inspection of local real estate, it can be observed that current housing trends follow the exemplars of American and European designs. However, many of these, though impressive, are not always ideal for our tropical climate.
Many lead to significant energy and operation costs, and the continued increase in building materials’ prices already pose a challenge during building. Despite modern developments providing more affordable solutions, not all are necessarily sustainable.
Remarkably, the greenest methods and materials may not actually come from foreign influence or future advancements, but from local ingenuity, history, and natural resources. Leading real estate website Lamudi enumerates just some of these indigenous materials homebuilders can use.
The Sawali Design Cue
Favored in a tropical country, the bahay kubo had always been designed to deal with heat, humidity, and floods. Bahay kubos are built lifted from the ground or on stilts, allowing air to circulate from the under the house, helping keep it cool, as well as avoid significant flood levels.
While the indigenous concept, commonly referred to as the sawali, seems simple, it remains effective today, with existing bahay kubos naturally cooler than modern condos and houses. With the property type, space, and landscape permitting, the sawali can easily apply to contemporary
Bamboo comprises 80–90 percent of a bahay kubo. The material is very versatile, used as strips, split, or whole timber varieties. Unfairly given the moniker of “poor man’s lumber” and relegated for use in furniture, bags, and wall décor, bamboo has experienced a renaissance as a building material thanks to increased public interest in going green.
Technology has allowed bamboo to be cured, where it is soaked in special solutions that eliminate the starches that make it susceptible to fire and termite infestation. It also preserves the material, allowing it to last for as long as 30 years.