Working with Carlos Arnaiz Architects and the StrongHouse Foundation, Arup has developed low-cost housing modules and a health centre for underprivileged families in Camarines Sur, the Philippines.
We provide structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and drainage systems for the community, creating a safe living environment for 40 deprived families with easy access to basic needs. The project will serve as a prototype for StrongHouse’s future projects in impoverished rural communities in the country.
Addressing challenges facing the rural communities
Due to its geographic location, the Philippines is susceptible to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and typhoons. The islands of Eastern Visayas, Northern Luzon and the Bicol Region, where Camarines Sur is located, suffer particularly frequent storms. The rural communities also face a lack of functioning ventilation and sewage systems.
To address these pressing challenges, we have designed this project into a safe community by building storm-resistant structures while providing access to safe drinking water, sanitation, basic healthcare services, medicines and vaccines.
The single-family and multi-family housing prototypes are also equipped with water and ventilation systems, as well as mechanisms for integrating water-lines across units to build a community-wide sewage infrastructure.
Resilient, easy-to-construct structures
To better protect the buildings from earthquakes, we adopt a ‘seismic moment resisting frame’ for both the affordable housing and the health centre. Reinforced concrete is used for all the structural components while the roof of the two structures is composed of structural steel. The structure is also engineered for ventilation and passive cooling through clerestory windows and a large garage opening.
One of the special features of the rural health centre is its steel roof truss design. The trusses are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. From height and width to design, their formation facilitates good air circulation and protects the interior space from the heat of the sun.
In addition, the prototype consists of customisable kit-of-parts that can be modified for families of varying needs, enabling quick and easy construction in the rural area with local labour. It provides a sustainable and cost-efficient way to develop housing that is structurally stable and resilient.
Optimal water and energy efficiency
We have introduced a range of features to optimise the use of resources. For instance, a constant pressure system will supply water for the housing and health centre. Low-flow plumbing fixtures have been selected for water closets, urinals and low volume showers; and each housing unit has a separate water meter to monitor water consumption.
Each building uses an underground septic tank which removes organic matter from waste, rendering it suitable for disposal to the ground or for further treatment. The waste decomposes anaerobically and are separated by three chambers prior to discharge in the sewerage system. Rainwater is collected from rooves and gutters for gardening and irrigation purposes.
Using solar panels is one of the aspirations of the project to enhance sustainability. As a minimum, loadings for solar panels have been accommodated in the design of the roof. To monitor the efficient use of electricity, LED lighting fixtures will be installed both indoors and outdoors supplemented by individual metering on each housing unit.
This is not the first time we have worked Arup on our projects as we have always found the quality of services to exceed our expectations, and we would most definitely look forward to partnering with Arup again in the future. ” Carlos Arnaiz Architects