Mud, bamboo, habitat and revolution

Mud, bamboo, habitat and revolution

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By Joel Sangronis Padrón

It is clear that in a world that enters a crisis with no return on the energy consumption model in force in the last 100 years, the expensive production of materials for the construction of houses and even their design and conceptualization has to be reviewed and redefined.

In the last 60 years, the southern countries of the world have significantly increased our demographic indices. The improvement in our socio-sanitary conditions has had a decisive influence on our population multiplying at an increasingly accelerated rate.

These population increases were mainly concentrated in the main cities of our countries, producing in a few decades a collapse in their service capacity and a growing deficit in the supply of housing and land on which to build them.

In the decades of the 80s and 90s of the last century, the arrival to power of governments related and submissive to the neoliberal ideology and the enormous weight that the foreign debt imposed on the economies of our countries made the housing problem worse dramatically .

The construction of houses and even the planning of urbanism were abandoned by the different governments, transferring this responsibility to the private initiative and the invisible hand of the market, euphemisms with which in our countries monopolistic construction mafias and gangster businesses are called speculative of the mortgage bank.

In Venezuela this disastrous inheritance has not yet been overcome by the plans and developments that the Bolivarian revolution has set in motion in terms of housing and habitat.

It is clear that in a world that enters a crisis with no return on the energy consumption model in force in the last 100 years, the expensive production of materials for the construction of houses and even their design and conceptualization has to be reviewed and redefined.

The durability of today's building materials is obtained at the cost of a very high energy expenditure: 1000 degrees Celsius to produce portland cement, 1700 degrees Celsius to obtain the steel used in construction, high costs in freight, etc. This high energy consumption added to inappropriate designs, not adapted to our climatic, cultural and economic conditions, plus the vision by the financial sector of the housing problem as one of the most lucrative businesses, with rates of return on invested capital faster and higher rates of profit, have made the acquisition of a home an almost unattainable dream for millions of men and women in our towns; situation in which I also, by the way, find myself.

The situations described above seem to indicate the need to explore new (but also old and unjustly forgotten) possibilities related to the construction of houses, among which mud and bamboo should be highlighted as raw materials for construction.

Mud has been used to build houses since the time of the first human settlements. It is an abundant, inexpensive material with remarkable physical-structural qualities that snobbery and cultural colonization have made us forget and despise.

Clay as a building material has been socially stigmatized; it is associated with poverty and backwardness; It is attributed a supposed fragility and inconsistency that belies the fact that pyramids like the one at Dahsur in Egypt, built entirely of clay more than 5,000 years ago, is still in an amazing state of conservation today, the same as the ancient city of Cachan in Peru, built with mud approximately 2,800 years ago, or long stretches of the great Chinese wall still standing and functional today. Also in the western state of Falcón, its capital, Coro, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, has a historic center built mainly of mud, where you can see majestic houses such as the "house of iron windows", belonging to to the Tellería family, who even after 300 years continue to amaze and admire those who have the pleasure of walking through its corridors, patios and rooms, and who today cry out to be acquired by the Venezuelan State to avoid its progressive deterioration process.

Among the many qualities and advantages of clay as a construction material we have:

Mud bricks (the word adobe seems to come from the Arabic "atob" which means silt or quagmire, or from "atuba" which means brick) conduct little heat and act as thermal balancers (they absorb the heat of the day and release it little by little). little during the cold of the night and vice versa). Its capacity for acoustic insulation is remarkable, and this characteristic is very useful and beneficial to a society hit by stress and the culture of noise. The clay insulates from electromagnetic radiation, which concrete does not. It is a practically non-combustible material, with an ignition value of F-180, this means that it can withstand fire for 180 minutes without burning.

The walls and walls made of mud bricks are thick and their density is similar to that of concrete. It has a high resistance to impacts and is totally ecological and recyclable. Its structural damage is easy to repair and both mud and clay are natural protectors against fungi and bacteria, as well as exchanging moisture with the outside, maintaining healthy levels of humidity inside the houses.

We must discard the foolish idea that with mud you can only build bahareque ranches; Coro's stately mansions and the photographs of beautiful mud houses that I place on my personal blog (, deny this assertion.

Countries like the USA, France, Spain, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, in recent years have seen a true rebirth of the construction of luxurious villas and 3 and 4 star hotels built with mud, which contradictorily with the bad social perception that exists in our countries on this material are only available to individuals of great economic power.

In Australia imposing hotels like the Kooralbyn in Queensland or the church of Thomas More in the Western territory, are built with mud bricks.

Central American countries such as Honduras, Costa Rica and El Salvador and southern countries such as Chile and Uruguay are instituting schools to train master builders in the technique of clay.

In the Cruz de Taratara, in the heart of the Falconian mountains, relatively close to the city of Coro, a “Escuela del Mud” operated until a few years ago (I don't know if it still works), where old masons from the region taught ancestral techniques for the manufacture of mud bricks and house construction with them. Also the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG) at the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s of last century, promoted housing construction projects (including two floors) using clay as the main raw material.

Only by using inexpensive, ecological and abundant materials (such as clay), will the different governments of the countries of the world cover the deficit of more than 500 million homes that are estimated to be needed in the world in the next 20 years.

If clay is the ideal material for walls and fillings in a popular new type of housing, bamboo is the ideal material for interior structures and supports.

Bamboo (also known in Venezuela as Guadua or Guauda), is a grass that reaches a great height (30 meters) and that due to its extraordinary hardness, flexibility and resistance has been called “vegetable steel”.

Its weight-strength ratio is such that it is only comparable to that obtained by space-age metal alloys. Incredibly, bamboo has a tensile strength of 40 Kp / mm2, higher than wood (5 Kp / mm2) and construction steel (37 Kp / mm2).

Colombian architect Simón Vélez has become a world celebrity for his avant-garde bamboo constructions, including bridges, houses and even the ZERI (Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives) pavilion at the Hannover technology fair, Germany, at the year 2,000, built entirely with this material.

This pavilion was the most visited by the public and in it the “Ecobook” laptop was presented, made of bamboo by the Asus company.

Among the most emblematic constructions made with bamboo in Latin America is the Pereira Cathedral, in the Colombian coffee region, an area of ​​great seismic activity, a danger for which the flexibility and resistance of bamboo constructions present great advantages because as it says Velez himself, "bamboo is not earthquake resistant, it is rather earthquake indifferent."

Bamboo can be used advantageously as a raw material to produce laminates, tongue and groove, floors, cabinets, panels, etc., with a resistance, durability and elegance infinitely superior to plastic and other more expensive and less ecologically sustainable types of wood.

Bamboo forests are very abundant in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Central America. They contribute to the regulation and maintenance of watercourses and to the conservation of hydrographic basins. This plant is a great fixer for carbon dioxide (one of the gases that produces the greenhouse effect), because when its wood is used or transformed it does not release the retained gas into the atmosphere.

A bamboo forest regenerates every 5 years without the need to replant it, which makes it highly sustainable as a raw material for construction, unlike species such as Cedar (20 to 25 years) and Oak (75 to 80 years).

For some years now, Colombia has been importing machinery, technology and technical assistance from Taiwan to use bamboo as a construction material. Now that Venezuela maintains excellent relations with the People's Republic of China, it would be desirable for us to investigate the multiple possibilities that this plant presents in everything related to the construction of houses and the thousand-year experience that the Chinese have in this area.

Joel Sangronis Padrón - Professor UNERMB

Video: Making the house safe from Malaria. Royal Society of Biology Northern branch (July 2022).


  1. Kagashakar

    What a fun topic

  2. Hapi

    This phrase is simply matchless :), very much it is pleasant to me)))

  3. Douktilar

    There are some more lacks

  4. Doug

    I can't take part in the discussion right now - there is no free time. I will definitely express my opinion very soon.

  5. Amot

    There is something in this. Thank you very much for your help on this issue, now I will know.

  6. Branhard

    Yes, it’s not so bad. Though .......

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