Habitat for Humanity spearheads competition on building disaster-proof homes for Filipinos


Nearly two million houses in the country are vulnerable to disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes, according to Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity said 1.6 million homes in the country lack “strong, adequate, and climate-resilient foundations” making these prone to destruction and a danger to those living in them.

“This is a concern because the Philippines experiences frequent seismic activities and is visited by at least 20 tropical cyclones annually,” the organization said.

“Many of these houses are owned by low-income families, who perceive that retrofitting their homes using traditional methods is either too expensive or unnecessary,” Habitat for Humanity said in a news statement.

The organization aims to change this by finding innovative solutions to building low-cost but quality shelter for Filipinos. Through a contest, Habitat for Humanity found innovative solutions and is testing the top solutions they found in over 300 homes in Barangay Bignay, Valenzuela City for low-income families.

The top 4 solutions were chosen out of 80 entries. The top solutions were the Foundation-Fit System; Column Footing Beam Monolith; Kabir’s Building Stabilization Method; and Perimeter Concrete Reinforcement Retrofit for Concrete Hollow Blocks (CHB).

The Foundation-Fit System aims to provide a rigid, stable base to existing CHB homes without the need for digging or using common concrete poured galvanized iron C-purlins.

Habitat said this includes lintels over doors and windows, a wall cohesion improvement scheme, and a low-maintenance anchoring system.

The Column Footing Beam Monolith, meanwhile, claims to withstand the required gravity and special loads using isolated reinforced concrete footings with a plinth beam connecting all sides of a structure.

Kabir’s Building Stabilization Method presents an innovative concept of building and strengthening homes by combining special precast miniature piles with the in-situ concrete column that will be anchored to the existing walls of the houses.

The proposed Perimeter Concrete Reinforcement Retrofit for CHB Structures claims that it can be constructed with minimally skilled labor and can be applied to a wide variety of site conditions by providing a continuous reinforcing band around the base of the wall.

“Housing experts will judge them based on the following criteria: resilience against typhoons and earthquakes, availability of materials needed, ease of installation among masons and homeowners, and affordability among low-income households,” Habitat said.

Habitat said the field-testing involves a “lateral load test,” where the lateral forces of an earthquake and typhoon winds will be simulated and applied.

Using a high-capacity hydraulic jack and movement sensors, this simulation process aims to get the maximum load a structure with an applied solution can endure, how long it will take to crack, and any foundation structural failure it may exhibit.

A community acceptability survey will also be conducted among homeowners, whose sentiments play a crucial role in choosing the winner.

The initiative is done in partnership with InnoCentive, SeaFreight Labs, Holcim Philippines Inc., Hilti Foundation, and BASE Bahay Foundation, this competition is dubbed as the Habitat for Humanity Challenge: Increasing Resilience to Earthquakes and Typhoons for Homes with No Foundations.

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