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.


Promised $9 million online, US teen killed ‘best friend’: police

Suspect Rhett McKenzie Nelson talks to an attorney as he appears in Los Angeles Superior court, Thursday, June 13, 2019 in Los Angeles. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2019
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Promised $9 million online, US teen killed ‘best friend’: police

  • Court documents say Schilmiller admitted to attempting to blackmail Brehmer after the murder into sexually assaulting young girls

LOS ANGELES: An American teenager has been charged with conspiring to murder her “best friend” after a man she met online offered her $9 million to commit the crime.
According to investigators, Denali Brehmer, an 18-year-old from Alaska, was recruited to kill her friend by a man a few years her elder, 21-year-old Darin Schilmiller of Indiana.
The pair had previously hooked up online, with Schilmiller assuming a fake identity and posing as a millionaire named “Tyler.”
Court documents say that during the course of their online relationship, they discussed a plan to rape and murder someone in Alaska.
Schilmiller promised Brehmer $9 million or more to send him videos or photographs of the macabre attack.
Brehmer then proceeded to recruit four friends and the group settled on Cynthia Hoffman — described as one of Brehmer’s best friends — as their victim.
On June 2, authorities say 19-year-old Hoffman was lured to a hiking trail northeast of Anchorage where she was bound with duct tape and shot once in the back of the head before being pushed into a river.
Her body was discovered on June 4.
Local news reports said Hoffman’s father has described his daughter as having a learning disability and the mindset of a 12-year-old.
Police say the victim was driven to Thunderbird Falls by Brehmer and Kayden McIntosh, a 16-year-old boy, under the guise of going on a riverside hike.
McIntosh allegedly shot Hoffman with Brehmer’s gun and dumped her body in the water.
Authorities say Brehmer communicated with Schilmiller throughout the murder, sending him “Snapchat photographs and videos of Hoffman tied up and of the body afterward.”
Both Brehmer and McIntosh have been arrested and charged in relation to the murder. Schilmiller has also been arrested along with three others accused of assisting in the planning or execution of the killing.
A grand jury last Friday indicted all six defendants for first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, two counts of second-degree murder and other charges.
Schilmiller and Brehmer were also indicted on Tuesday on federal child pornography and child exploitation charges.
Police said that a search on Brehmer’s phone during their investigation into Hoffman’s death revealed that the teen — at Schilmiller’s direction — had produced videos depicting sexually explicit conduct involving a minor and sent them to Schilmiller.
Court documents say Schilmiller admitted to attempting to blackmail Brehmer after the murder into sexually assaulting young girls.
Both face up to life in prison on the child pornography charges.
They also face up to 99 years in prison for each of the murder charges, the conspiracy to commit murder charge, and the solicitation to commit murder charge.