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FORCED ELSEWHERE
from waste to houses | habitat for humanity


FROM WASTE TO HOUSES


source: bestpractices.org/bpbriefs/housing.
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from waste to houses
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context: the Cuban economic crisis in the early nineties affected the manufacture of building materials including Ordinary Portland cement (OPC). Housing programmes were cut back and the population was no longer able to maintain and repair their apartments and houses. Recurring hurricanes in the province aggravated the situation.

who: CIDEM Centro de Investigación de Estructuras y Materiales (Structure and Material Research and Development Centre) is a research think-tank assigned to the Building Faculty, Universidad Central de Las Villas, in Cuba. It has a small group of specialists in civil engineering and architecture, almost all of them with wide experience and scientific training. The group functions as a nucleus for almost all of the other teachers in the faculty, and for students chosen for their high academic performance.

what: CIDEM responded to this situation by searching for ways to produce alternative cement, investigating the use of agro industrial waste as raw material to produce lime-puzzolana cement. With this binder a selection of cement-based materials could be produced in small-scale local workshops and sold to the population at affordable prices in local currency.

Several municipalities and the National Housing Institute (NHI) were interested in the process and they established pilot plants, with priority given to the areas recently hit by hurricanes. A close co-operation with the bank was established to finance house owners willing to invest in maintenance and repair using materials from these local workshops.

how: the technologies were developed in a CIDEM applied research program and include alternative cement made with recycled wastes from the sugar industry. This material can replace up to 40% of the OPC in hollow concrete blocks without affecting its quality. The waste material is recycled as a fuel, the ashes of which become the pozzolanic raw material needed for the binder.

As traditional building materials are not readily available after the increasingly frequent hurricanes, the initiative sought new paradigms for the local building materials market by increasing the availability of alternative materials in the local market, enabling owners to privately renovate and repair their dwellings. In effect, it developed a novel strategy for urban intervention. The products are sold mostly to house owners whose homes have been damaged by the storm. They have to manage their own construction but many of them are guided to apply for bank loans to purchase the materials.

On the northern coast of Villa Clara province the project implements the production of materials in a decentralised manner, creating a local network of building materials manufacturers. Four workshops which produce blocks, tiles and alternative cement have been set into full operation in Sagua la Grande, Quemados, Caibarién and Camajuani and are owned by the municipal branch of the National Housing Institute (NHI).

sustainability features: the concept of ‘waste to houses’ brings together ecologically viable building materials and house improvement in hurricane prone areas. The production focus is combined with introducing flexibility into market structures under the auspices of local governments, in order to empower the homeowners to carry out the necessary repairs themselves. Decentralised production of building materials decreases transportation distance, helping make the materials more economical and ecological. 1,200 families have renovated their houses through this innovative program.

contacts

Universidad Central de las Villas Carretera a Camajuani km 5 ½ Santa Clara, Villa Clara, Cuba ph +53 42 281064-65 fax +53 42 281539 F.Martirena@enet.cu
 
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