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An Affordable, Dignified Solution To The Philippines’ Housing Crisis – Cubo

If the Philippines’ housing crisis is left unaddressed, it could see as many as 12 million people affected by 2030. Founders and EarthTech Challenge Finalists, Earl and Zahra, have a solution: modular homes made from bamboo. The houses are manufactured off-site then can be assembled on-site in just four hours. What’s more, they’ve drawn inspiration from traditional bamboo structures typically found in the country’s rural areas and small towns. It’s an affordable and dignified solution to a major problem. Tune in and hear how this startup is building better homes and even brighter futures.

CUBO Modular is a designer and manufacturer of modular housing solutions, and one of our EarthTech Challenge finalists. Founded by Earl Forlales and Zahra Zanjani, CUBO envisions a Philippines with no slums, by providing affordable and dignified housing for Filipinos.

The current housing requirement in Metro Manila alone is 600,000 houses. Going around Metro Manila you’ll see a lot of slum housing, where people occupy unused land and set up illegal housing to rent out, leaving people who are unable to secure long-term housing extremely vulnerable. These slum houses are charged at a premium, even though they may only be 4 sqm, with families living inside with very minimal provisions for water and sanitation. The houses are also not ventilated, leaving the families vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning.

If the Philippines’ housing crisis is left unaddressed, it could see as many as 12 million people affected by 2030. This is where Earl and Zahra’s solution comes in, modular homes built from bamboo. CUBO currently has two modular solutions available, at 14.5 sqpm and 29 sqm respectively. The normal construction method would take 3-4 months in a good season, but most of the time given weather or construction delays, it could take up to six months. CUBO houses are prefabricated off-site, meaning that a fully-function house can be assembled on-site in only a few hours.

Their materials are also a big part of what makes them unique, helping the planet as well as people. Instead of producing carbon like traditional concrete would, bamboo absorbs it. Their engineered bamboo can also last up to 50 years, a stark contrast to the simple materials traditionally used that means housing is poor quality, and won’t last long.

CUBO is not just addressing a problem with a solution, they’re tying in tradition that is important to the Philippines by drawing inspiration from traditional bamboo structures typically found in the country’s rural areas.

The idea was inspired by Earl’s childhood, growing up in a 9 sqm home owned by his grandparents. Even though it was a tiny space, it gave Earl’s family everything they needed to live. This pushed him to think about how they could take something like that, and provide a mass-scale solution.

CUBO’s philosophy is that everything starts with housing. If you provide people with dignified housing, and give them the confidence and security of a home, then education and financial security seems to fall into place. A home is the centerpoint in a person’s life, and if that’s permanent, then it gives them the vision of a future.

CUBO are currently on a seed round of financing, once they complete their funding they’ll roll out a factory to produce their modular houses on a mass scale. To hear more about CUBO Modular, listen to our latest podcast episode with Earl and Zahra.