Advancing the Use of Bamboo as a Building Material in Low-Income Housing Projects in Kenya

Shahryar Habibi, Esther Obonyo, Ali M. Memari

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Although bamboo has been used as a structural material in buildings, the uptake in Kenya has been minimal. The authors’ main objective is to exemplify an approach for using bamboo as a structural material in low-income housing through strategies that respond to context-specific design constraints and socio-cultural needs. Given the need for low-cost housing worldwide and the appropriateness of bamboo for this purpose, a sector of farmers in countries such as Kenya is being encouraged to plant bamboo for the purpose of use as a construction material. The main objective of this paper is to suggest a low-cost residential building design concept based on the use of bamboo as the structural material. This paper initially presents a review of examples of vernacular architecture, the use of locally resourced materials in building elements in Kenya, and the uses of bamboo as a construction material and system, and then develops a typical design of a bamboo-structure residential house based on context-responsive bioclimatic design strategies. The paper also discusses the feasibility of introducing bamboo as a sustainable material for minimizing the financial and environmental impacts attributed to climate change and carbon emissions, from the initial planning to the final construction. It shows that the use of a bamboo-based material should be considered a technological improvement, especially in sustainable architecture design using indigenous materials. Although currently bamboo is not widely used in the formal construction sector in countries such as Kenya, it may be considered a “green steel” because of its low weight and easy harvesting attributes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Footprints and Eco-Design of Products and Processes
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NameEnvironmental Footprints and Eco-Design of Products and Processes
ISSN (Print)2345-7651
ISSN (Electronic)2345-766X

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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