Low Tech Construction Doesn’t Limit Design

Not all of the world has ready and affordable access to manufactured materials. In Bangladesh, Anna Heringer & Eike Roswag designed the Modern Education and Training Institute (METI) using the vernacular materials of earth and bamboo. These projects offer an even greater opportunity for designers to express the materials in a new way while still utilizing their natural buildable strength.

METI School in Rudrapur, Bangladesh. Photo Courtesy: Kurt Hoerbst

For this project the designers used local labor and readily available materials, but the design doesn’t follow the typical conventions of Bangladesh’s alluvial sand bricks. For the first floor they used a technique similar to cob walling where a straw-earth mixture is layered and trimmed down. Each layer dries for about a week before the next layer is added.

In this section you see the first floor of thick earth with a circular play-space called the “cave’s”. The second floor and roof are four-layer bamboo beams. Photo Courtesy: Kurt Hoerbst

Local labor was used for building the second floor of the school with four-ply bamboo and jute-rope. Photo Courtesy: Detail 4/2007

From explorations in local materials and a combination of local laborers, regional builders, and world designers the METI building provided “help for self-help.” It was a teaching tool for all parties involved simply because of the questions asked in the design.

In this scenario the simplicity of the material and the low technical knowledge required allowed any level of labor to be involved in the building process. This example is very loosely applicable in the Western Built world when there are so many structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, etc. systems going into the building.


Children in the earthen built “cave’s”. Photo Courtesy: Detail 4/2007

Second Floor of the METI building with bamboo and jute-root construction. Photo Courtesy: Detail 4/2007


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