Renewable Houses SA

Affordable Housing, Skills and Resources for South Africa


Mortons Hill Bamboo Regional Hub

We are pleased to announce that the first Bamboo Regional Hub is under development thanks to the generosity and vision of the owner of Mortons Hill. Find us on Instagram @renewable_houses_sa to follow our progress.

Bamboo Regional Hub


The basic idea is to nurture an inclusive economy around the ecology of bamboo in its natural life cycle. Due to the cyclical nature of the bamboo growing and harvesting, cultivating and processing bamboo utilizes different operational cycles throughout the year. To meet the needs of these cycles, the Bamboo Regional Hub consists of 3 components working in synergy, to ensure year round employment. These are:

1 - Bamboo Nursery
2 - Bamboo Treatment Facility
3 - Craft Workshop


Bamboo Regional Hub - Land Development Concept

Bamboo Regional Hub Phase 1 - Year 1

Phase 1 / Year 1 - Site Selection, Planting


Bamboo is planted in a grid (which varies according to species) and is watered regularly during the first year of growth. The following species are suitable for planting along the east coast of South Africa. Together they will provide the variety necessary for a network of self-sufficient Bamboo Regional Hubs. Dendrocalamus Asper – edible shoots, construction, craft; Guadua angustifolia – construction; Bambusa Bambos – landscaping (security), construction; Bambusa Multiplex – landscaping (hedges) and crafts; Beema Roxb – construction, bio fuels. See our species list for more details.

Bamboo Regional Hub Phase 2 - Year 2
Phase 2 / Year 2 - Dwelling, Water and Waste Management


As the bamboos take root, a caretaker’s dwelling (1) is built from earth technology (sandbag / CSEB / adobe), bamboo and other available timbers. A toilet is also constructed, with the septic tank (2) being located in the bamboo grove. The seepage from the septic tank is absorbed by the growing bamboo. As time goes by, you will expand the bamboo plantation with respect to indigenous life (concept of mosaic plantations). Rain water also begins to be harvested at this time. The idea here is to create a synergy between domestic waste water and the needs of growing bamboo. The process of building serves as a skills development workshop over several weeks.

Bamboo Regional Hub Phase 3 - Year 3-4

Phase 3 / Year 3-4 - Bamboo Nursery, Bamboo Treatment Facility


As the bamboo matures, processing infrastructure is built, and rain-water collection and capacity are upgraded. There are two streams of processing and production, one focused on propagation, the other on processing. A Bamboo Nursery (3) facilitates the reproduction of desirable bamboo species throughout the year via cuttings and other means of propagation. This enables stable seedling supply for the next Bamboo Regional Hub and a new generation of growers. A Bamboo Treatment Facility (4) will process raw bamboo into a usable construction material. Untreated bamboo only lasts 2-3 years compared to 30-40 years if treated and used undercover. The treatment facility enables experimentation of various treatment techniques, including iterations of preservation by sap displacement (Boucherie) and hot and cold soaking techniques (Boric acid and Borax solution). The most effective techniques will be documented and the process and results will be published by RHSA as open-source material. The treatment facility will be equipped for curing and drying the bamboo poles and strips.

Bamboo Regional Hub Phase 4 - Year 4 Onwards

Phase 4 / Year 4 Onwards - Bamboo Craft Workshop, Regional Hub Upgrades & Expansion


Once the main growing and processing infrastructure is set up, a Craft Workshop (5) is built fronting a public edge. The Craft Workshop is a space that enables the processing of bamboo into various products. Among these include daily utensils; furniture and housing components such as posts, beams, wall partitions, screens, roof trusses, doors, etc The Craft Workshop will also have a small commercial element to it, which will be context specific. As we grow as a business, we aim to invest in processing technology to enable us to develop and produce standardized products. Skills development training programs for bamboo and earth construction will also take place at the Craft Workshop.


Bamboo Development Model


Challenges

1. Access to Funding / Investment Capital
2. Access to land
3. Mapping existing bamboo & Identifying existing species
4. No clear policy from the government regarding invasive species or bamboo classification(s).

If you think you or your organization can assist with any of the above, please Contact Us