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Houses Help

Affordable Housing & Technology

An estimated 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing worldwide. The Hilti Foundation believes that a safe home is the basis for the positive development of every human being and has therefore set itself the goal to provide sustainable support for those in need to improve their housing situation. The main basis for this is the development of innovative and sustainable products and technologies that help make houses safer and more affordable.

The construction of homes for families in need started as a project in 2012 when Hilti engineers in the Philippines tested innovative construction technologies for all supporting elements of a building. To do so, they used bamboo, a construction material that is both sustainable and locally available. Bamboo not only withstands natural disasters; it is also less expensive than conventional construction materials. Just two years later, the Base Bahay Foundation was founded to further develop and apply the technology. By 2018, nearly 800 houses had been built using bamboo and handed over to disadvantaged families. At the same time, a value chain began to emerge in the country, which ranged from bamboo harvesting and transportation through to processing which, in turn, created valuable jobs in vital rural regions. Back in 2019, the Base Bahay Foundation established its own research center on the former site of the Hilti Training Center South East Asia, which is where new technologies are in constant development and construction workers and developers are trained in the application of this material.

The research center accommodates a training center for up to 50 people, a laboratory equipped with a universally applicable testing unit, as well as a freed-up construction space where a complete model home can be built for test and research purposes. In addition to this, the research center collaborates with leading universities and research centers around the world and publishes scientific specialist publications on a regular basis.

Cooperation with the housing charity Habitat for Humanity International, which started in 2019, represents a major milestone for the Foundation. In the coming years, together with partners from public and private sectors, the project aims to construct 10,000 houses in the Philippine province Negros Occidental to demonstrate that the technology can also be applied on an industrial scale. The transfer of this technology to other Asian countries has already started: in Nepal, bamboo houses are being built for the first time outside the Philippines in cooperation with the government and the private sector.

Photo: Hilti: 2 men build a house from bamboo
Use of bamboo technology has helped establish a local value chain that ranges from harvesting and transportation through to processing, and has created valuable jobs, particularly in rural regions.

A visit to Marissa

Marissa lives in Payatas, a neighborhood in the Manila metropolitan area. The 46-year-old mother of five normally works at one of the country’s largest landfill sites earning just USD 4 a day as a refuse collector. As a single mother, she is currently unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She and her children have to make do without any savings and depend entirely on charitable contributions and food donations provided by the local government.

Photo: Hilti: Visiting Marissa in Manila
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Photo: Hilti: Marissa, resident of the Vincentian Missionaries housing scheme

This place is safe. It is better for my children and the schools are close by.

resident of the Vincentian Missionaries housing scheme

Nonetheless, even in this difficult situation, Marissa is still deeply grateful. She lives in one of 50 bamboo-technology houses made available to deprived families which were constructed by the church organization Vincentian Missionaries. Having the house means a lot to Marissa: she and her children have access to running water and electricity and are sheltered against winds and inclement weather. She appreciates the fact that her children can attend nearby schools and that her neighbors have become good friends. For Marissa, none of these aspects of her life are taken for granted. She is happy to live in a safe home with her family – a place where she can renew her strength and regain confidence in her daily struggle to survive.

More information: Hilti Foundation