CUBO is a system of modular bamboo homes that respond to manila's housing crisis

CUBO is a system of modular bamboo homes that respond to manila's housing crisis

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 project recently won the RICS cities for our future competition



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

  • I am most impressed by the housing designs. Is there any scope for having a house assembled in Bohol? Is there scope for sending a skilled carpenter to be trained with you from Bohol? I am running an NGO in the Visayas. We built some houses after the 2013 Bohol earthquake. Thanks for getting back to me. Richard Foster

    Richard Foster says:
  • Several years ago I wrote a Amazon Kindle Novel called “Six Mountains” that had a similar concept with panels made of Bamboo, Balsa Wood and Basalt Fabric. I congratulate Mr. Forlales making his concept a reality.

    Lewis Balentine says:
  • I am a builder in Jamaica and am interested in your solution .we have a huge amount of bamboo here ,and a housing shortage we also have a booming air b and b tourist trade .please contact me ,I am very interested in looking at a joint venture
    Yours David langdon

    David Langdon says:
  • Could be interested by your concept and need to know how your bamboo is treated.
    Could visit you in Philippines
    Please reply and give your address and onctact
    Best regards
    F Rivoallan

    Rivoallan says:
  • I would like to know more about this CUBO design as I would like to build something similar here in Cebu.
    How can I contact Mr. Forlalese to discuss the possibilities of not just single units but the combined community unit also. I have the available land and love the new bamboo concept of the traditional rural house.

    Please contact me at the above email address.

    John McMullen.

    John McMullen says:
  • I am interested in taking you on as a consultant. I am really impressed by the house. I wish to do the same thing in Kenya

    Nizarali Alibhai says:
  • Our Titas house in hagonoy, bulacan has started to bend forward due to the ravages of flood waters and high tide.
    Will this last through flood waters?

    Anthony M Azucena says:
  • Hi, any plans for a prototype community?

    Steve Singson says:

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