Bamboo house for Manila slums wins top prize in future cities contest

The house, known as CUBO, uses engineered bamboo and can be put together in four hours at a cost of £60 per square meter. (Supplied photo)
Updated 22 November 2018
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Bamboo house for Manila slums wins top prize in future cities contest

  • The house, known as CUBO, uses engineered bamboo and can be put together in four hours at a cost of £60 per square meter
  • Of Manila’s population of 12 million, about a third live in slums

BANGKOK: The creator of a low-cost house made of bamboo to tackle the chronic shortage of affordable housing in the Philippine capital has won a top international prize to design future cities in a rapidly urbanizing world.
Earl Forlales, 23, won the first prize from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in its Cities for our Future competition. The prize money of £50,000 ($63,915) will fund a prototype, as well as actual units.
The house, known as CUBO, uses engineered bamboo, and can be put together in four hours at a cost of £60 per square meter, according to a statement released Thursday.
The modular housing, which can be manufactured in a week, includes design elements such as a tilted roof that captures rainwater and reduces heat gain, and elevated stilts that prevent floodwaters from entering the home.
“The world’s cities are growing all the time and there is a real need to make sure they are safe, clean and comfortable places to live in,” said John Hughes, competition judge and president of RICS.
“Earl’s idea stood out for its simple, yet well thought through solution to the world’s growing slum problem,” he said.
Of Manila’s population of 12 million, about a third live in slums, possibly the most in any urban area in the world, charities estimate.
Many residents are migrants from the provinces who come in search of better opportunities, and cannot afford housing. An additional 2.5 million migrant workers are forecast to move to the city in the next three years.
The National Housing Authority last year committed to building 800,000 homes over five years. The backlog for government housing in the Philippines is about 5.5 million, campaigners estimate.
Forlales, a graduate in material science engineering, said he took inspiration for CUBO from the bamboo hut his grandparents lived in outside Manilla.
CUBO will first be used to house the incoming worker population in the short term, and then extended to the city’s slums. The plan also includes options to provide residents with new skills and jobs, Forlales said.
“The affordable housing solution must necessarily be low-cost, sustainable, robust and long lasting. We cannot make do with band-aid solutions,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Housing opens up opportunities, so the solution must be decent and dignified, giving residents access to all necessary amenities for a better life,” he said.
CUBO can be built in any city where bamboo is available, including most of Southeast Asia, and parts of Africa and Latin America, he said.
The inaugural Cities for our Future competition — run by RICS and supported by the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO and the Association of Commonwealth Universities — drew more than 1,200 entries.


Iraqi police arrest man selling Saddam Hussein watches in Baghdad

Updated 22 April 2019
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Iraqi police arrest man selling Saddam Hussein watches in Baghdad

  • Since the fall of Hussein, promotion of the former leader, the regime or the Ba’ath party is prohibited
  • Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging on Dec, 30 2006

LONDON: Police in Iraq have arrested a man selling watches in central Baghdad with images of the country’s former dictator Saddam Hussein on their faces.
Since the fall of Hussein, promotion of the former leader, the regime or the Ba’ath party is prohibited.
Baghdad police department said in a statement that they acted after they had received a tip from a member of the public that someone was selling wristwatches with pictures of Saddam Hussein on them.
The statement did not give further details about the arrest.
Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging on Dec, 30 2006 after being convicted of crimes against humanity.
Iraq’s judiciary recently said no decision or law had been implemented to punish Saddam Hussein’s supporters and pointed out that any step in this regard should be first initiated by the Iraqi Parliament, despite the country’s constitution prohibiting the existence of the former Ba’ath party.
This statement came after a popular poet appeared in the southern province of Dhi Qar, delivering a poem that many saw as a tribute to Saddam Hussein, who ruled Iraq for decades, from 1979 until his fall in 2003.