In past posts we have made reference to the Manabi province all-purpose do-everything tool – the machete. Well, if there is a corresponding all-purpose use-for-everything building material here in Manabi it would have to be Bamboo.
Bamboo (referred to as, “caña” when used in construction) grows all over this province and is used for all types of construction. The wood is remarkably strong and resistant to corrosion. The trees are actually a type of grass and grow unbelievably fast.
Our friend Heinz has a stand of bamboo in his yard which he regularly trims right down to the ground. He recently had the bamboo cut down to the ground and this stalk has grown to about four feet tall in little more than a week.
The plants grow in clusters and look like this as they grow.
The stalks can be flattened and are used for floors, walls, and roofs – simply nailing the flattened stalks to other stalks used as beams or studs. Some entire houses are made of bamboo. The beams are generally held together with twine and the roofs are often covered with palm fronds making beautiful and comfortable ramadas like this one in our yard area.
One of the beauties of bamboo is that it is strong, readily available and very reasonably priced. Many of our friends have had large ramadas erected on the roofs of their condominiums at Vistazul for under $1000.
But, caña can also be used in high end construction projects. There is a small one story concrete home on the roadway near the entrance to town. The owners contracted with some skilled caña maestros who built a beautiful second story to the small home more than doubling the size of the home with a second kitchen area, bathroom, and bedroom on the old roof.
We have followed with interest as the crew has worked to make this masterpiece. I asked the maestro if I could get some pictures. Here are some shots showing how caña can be used to create high quality housing.
This photo shows the way woven bamboo was used as facia over the old concrete roofline. Notice the recessed lighting and defused lighting on each corner made from bowed split bamboo. Here is a close-up of one of the custom-made corner lights from the back-side.
Here is the view from the south.
And from the west showing the stairway to the new addition.
The workers allowed me to go on up to get these pictures.
The beams are securely fastened with bolts as opposed to twine.
The bathroom and bedroom are screened in at the top and there are four built-in bunk beds in the new room.
The barbecue and kitchen preparation area is open and spacious.
I am sure the owners will spend many long hours on their new deck enjoying this view of the road leading into town.
I can not wait to see this place illuminated at night!
It is a joy to watch the craftsmen work here in San Clemente where…
Life is good in Ecuador.