In a joint collaboration project between three organisations, Building Trust International, Atelier COLE, and Habitat for Humanity Cambodia, an affordable housing design and implementation scheme has been created for low-income Cambodians looking to build their first home. The result, aptly named the “Framework House”, is highly sustainable, affordable housing built from local bamboo and wood, and it costs the end buyer just US$2,500 to build. The pilot Framework House project was originally conceived by the three aid organisations to serve Cambodian families affected by HIV/AIDS in particular, and those generally in poor health and facing vulnerable circumstances. A total of nine homes were built for this original purpose in the pilot phase of the affordable housing operation this year and last. Framework House is affordable housing being built primarily from wood and bamboo, and comes in several different versions, as per the end users needs. The family receiving the new home has the option to decide what kind of layout they need, and examples of additional options include homes suitable for keeping livestock in, separate from the residential dwelling area, and home designs which can concurrently double as small food stores. The two-story stilt houses measure a total of 80 square meters in area, and feature recycled material which is used as cheap insulation. On the ground floor of each Framework House, earth bags, plastic bottles, and clay bricks are used for insulation purposes, while first-floor insulation includes wattle and daub, split bamboo stems, and woven bamboo mats. The sleeping area is located on the first floor of the house in order to protect families against flash-floods, a common occurrence and danger in many regions of Cambodia.
These cheap homes are basic indeed, but they are also highly innovative - designed with Cambodia’s unique environment in mind. Internally operable shutters help encourage air flow, cooling and encouraging passive ventilation throughout the house. Further, large, overhanging roofs are integrated into the design to enable each family their own rainwater collection source. The rainwater that is collected from the roof then runs into a gutter and lands in a 1000 liter catchment tank for drinking, and a following 2000 liter tank suitable for washing and cooking.In addition, each home comes equipped with a small solar panel that provides sufficient energy to charge a mobile phone or power a water pump, and within the house a solar powered light provides safe and sustainable illumination inside. And, to keep the housing economy benefits within the community, wherever possible, local builders and local materials are used to make the houses. Building Trust International hopes to bring the affordable housing scheme to more low-income people now that the design and testing phase is complete, and is also in the process of developing another, higher-density affordable housing design for urban areas.