Millennium School Bamboo Project

Exhibition: Cities | October 5, 2011 by

The Philippine islands are hit with twenty to thirty typhoons every year, causing damage at a cost of up to 20 billion pesos (US$465 million) annually. In order to promote the change of investment priorities from post-disaster assistance to safer, more sustainable infrastructure solutions that could save lives and property, Illac Diaz of My Shelter Foundation organized in 2008 the Millennium Schools Design Competition. Diaz called for the design of a school structure—often the place of refuge for poor residents during a typhoon—which could withstand 150-kph (93-mph) winds. Typical schools in this part of the world are hot, dark, and built with concrete, wood, and metal. The disaster-resistant design needed to be low-cost, use local and sustainable materials, minimize construction waste, incorporate natural light and ventilation, and be replicable in similar regions around the world.

The winning design, by Eleena Jamil of Malaysia, was built in 2010 on the Bicol Peninsula, an area heavily hit by typhoons. Inspired by vernacular houses found in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, the large, sloping roof and shaded veranda on one side provide shade for informal teaching or play. The simple design and arrangement of side-by-side classrooms allows for cross-ventilation, shade, and natural light. The bamboo and traditional woven-reed ceiling allows airflow and is easy to build and maintain. Lastly, a raised concrete platform keeps floors dry in the rainy season. The Millennium School is the first school in the Philippines to be constructed from bamboo—an inexpensive, strong, flexible, abundant, and sustainable material that can be harvested in three years (versus ten years for timber)—making Bamboo Project ideal for high-wind locations.

Architect: Eleena Jamil; structural engineers: DCCD Engineering Corporation; mechanical and electrical: ACC Engineering Services. Clients: Illac Diaz, My Shelter Foundation, Philippines Department of Education. Nato High School, Camarines-Sur, Philippines, 2008–10. Bamboo, reinforced concrete, woven reed, metal decking

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