Evaluation of bamboo for building elements satisfying housing criteria

Bamboo – identified as a Non Timber Forest Product (NTFP) – offering optimal mechanical properties for construction purposes, and at the same time little studied among contemporary building materials, is paradoxically most used in precarious housing. The use of natural resources within the context of sustainable development is nowadays considered a subject of vital importance, especially in the construction industry, considered as being the largest consumer of world energy. This work concerns itself with two fundamental contemporary issues: the use of natural resources as a contribution to sustainable development and precarious housing. The topic of housing among the different problems relating to the construction industry is one of the most critical in developing countries since poverty entails precariousness in various aspects of the habitat and particularly in housing. The aim of this thesis is to validate a construction element designed using bamboo as its main constituent. Therefore in the first part, before presenting the composite bamboo structure, the CBS panel (an element designed within the framework of this thesis), the theme of precarious housing in relation to bamboo is examined. A final part gives insight into the appropriation and application of the proposed CBS panel. The first part, devoted to the link between bamboo and precarious housing, analyses the problems concerning social housing in developing countries. To identify how bamboo's use for construction is related to the social habitat, precarious housing is evaluated on the basis of the world view and aspirations of inhabitants. This will help determine the challenges involved in the construction proposals put forward to reduce the complex problems of social housing in the South. In this search, the reality of intermediate cities is examined to obtain a better understanding of the urbanisation phenomenon of metropolises versus the deterioration of the rural habitat within the context of globalisation (Chapters 1 and 2). The second part is devoted to presenting the composite bamboo structure (CBS panel) carrying out simple four-point load bending tests resulting in values that guarantee the element's load-bearing capacity, establishing the existence of a composite behaviour between bamboo and concrete. An experimental study, allowing the interaction between bamboo and concrete to be identified, was carried out. The use of bamboo in construction is validated via mechanical tests, studying the mechanical properties of bamboo and identifying high tensile strength, and confirming the weakness of bamboo, a longitudinal separation parallel to the grain. The investigation contributes to improvement by means of fibre reinforcement: natural, such as jute, and artificial, such as glass fibre, with compression tests made parallel and perpendicular to the fibre (Chapters 3, 4, 5 and 6). The third part concerns the study of appropriation and application criteria, applied to the composite bamboo structure (CBS panel). This part contains theoretical elements and a descriptive study with qualitative methodology that explores appropriation by various populations of Latin America, all involved with a construction project. This revision confirms the hypothesis that social appropriation is a complex issue that includes cultural, social and psychological elements, which are part of the emerging phenomenon of human settlements in precarious areas. The production of social housing is based on the study of the relationship between bamboo, its morphology, its applicability as construction system and the spaces that can be generated. Consequently the different possible forms of housing are presented, developing details of connections between the housing elements, and their chain of production. Quality control is identified as being the most important stage to guarantee the final product. Failure to carry out this control would be to jeopardise the success of not only the CBS panel but also the use of bamboo as resource. We also demonstrate that appropriation of a technology for a target group must be considered not only in relation to this group, but also introduce its use to a superior target group, since the reference factor is important (Chapter 7).


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