1-8 Architecture, Vanuatu style
Basically, the architecture here is perfectly suited to the climate. The buildings are mostly made from woven bamboo or wild cane with natangura thatched roofs. We’ll go top down.
The natangura is that tropical houseplant that looks sort of like a coconut leaf. Here, it grows to be about fifteen feet tall. The individual sections of the leaf are folded over a section split bamboo and then “pinned” in place using another section of bamboo. “Sewing up” natangura takes a long time, but it also holds for several years. The sections are laid like shingles, starting and the bottom and working up until you get to the peak. The peak is natangura that is just folded over and pinned with two long pieces of bamboo that run the length of the house on either side of the peak.
The structure of the house is either bamboo or a local wood that grows straight and with minimal branches. It is framed up more or less like any other house I’ve seen. The difference is that instead of using nails, they take green vines and lash the posts in place. When the vines dry, they’re pretty much impossible to move. The natangura is attached the same way, a vine around the bamboo than around the rafter.
The walls in our area are all woven bamboo. It is a pretty neat process. First, you half the bamboo. Then you take an axe and crack bunches of holes in it the long way. Then you flatten it out and trim off the section bits. It makes a multi-yard by two to five inch section of bamboo with bunches of small cracks running through it. These are woven like the matts and baskets are woven. That forms a wall which can be cut to size as appropriate. These walls are amazing because they let in a slight breeze. The breeze is absolutely necessary here.
The sheet of woven bamboo is fasten to the studs by another layer of bamboo. This is a third or so of a piece that lays reasonably flat on its own. The bamboo is placed on the outside of the wall and nailed in place through the wall, pinning the wall to the stud.
Traditionally, the floor is dirt covered in coconut leaves and matts. In our house, we have a cement floor. It is sort of awesome because it stays nice and cool during the day.
Other non-traditional methods of construction include corrugated iron roofs and walls, cinder block construction, heat-reflecting under layers to metal roofing, solar panel installation and screens on the windows.
In traditionally construction, all the materials are not only local and suited to the environment, but they are also highly sustainable and re-grow very quickly. I’m totally impressed.