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The house of bamboo

An initiative to showcase an eco-friendly and viable alternative building material

Save for the cement floor and CGI roof, the rest of the lone cottage built above the highway to Tendu in Samtse, its walls, ceiling and the door, is built with bamboo.

Unlike bamboo cottage resorts of Kerala, Goa, Vietnam and Indonesia, the lone three-room bamboo cottage has a rustic look and feel.

The cottage, along with a small lawn, has been hedged with bamboo trunks tied together.

Villagers from Kuengaling and Rangkangling, Tendu gewog, had built and completed the cottage about a month ago, using bamboo materials available in a community forest of Pakpay.  The two villages are about 58km from Samtse.

The pillars that support the beams of the lone cottage are made of large bamboo trunks, including other frames that give the model its shape.

It has halved bamboo trunks glued together, horizontally, vertically and diagonally to form the walls.

Dzongkhag forest officer Sonam Wangchuk said it was an initiative of Pakpay CFM members, supported by social forest and extension division.

The main intention of building a house was to prove to villagers that houses could be built using bamboos and not necessarily timber that villagers prefer using.

He said bamboos were just the material for the south, where the weather was excruciatingly hot in summers and warm in winters.

“Besides, bamboos grow in abundance here,” he said. “The villagers will later diversify bamboo products for income generation.”

According to the officials, Pakpay village is rich in bamboo plantation.

He said the bamboos were well treated, using local chemicals to avoid any damage to the material by pests, insects, or rain.

Community chairman DB Rai said they were going to use the cottage as a guesthouse, as a meeting venue and for visitors to the villages in Samtse at rent.

“We still need to furnish the house and we hope to use local materials there as well,” he said. “We have already decided to buy the furniture with our money generated from the community forest.”

Once furnished, he said people, wishing to experience a rustic village setting, away from the bustles of a town, could come for breaks, recess, or vacationing.

The community’s accountant IB Gurung said they would be using Nu 60,000 from their savings account, which they mobilised over the years by selling brooms, firewood and bamboos, to buy furniture for the cottage.

“We’re planning to buy chairs and beds made of wood,” he said. “Every household from this year will have to deposit Nu 200 annually for that purpose.”

The cottage, however, was built at the cost of Nu 820,000 funded by the government.

Sonam Wangchuk said the government had initially provided Nu 1.4M to build the cottage, but since they made do with almost half that amount, the rest of the money was returned to the government.

About 2,500 bamboos were used for the construction of the cottage that came from the community forest the two commuities planted and managed.

DB Rai said about 400 bamboos had to be bought from another village for roofing at Nu 50 a piece.

Two villagers, who were once sent to Nagaland, India on a field trip, had built the cottage.

“While they couldn’t witness the building of bamboo houses, they had taken pictures of the bamboo-built cottages,” DB Rai said. “They built this cottage looking at the pictures.”

Depending on how the venture goes, he said they would build more such cottages.

The Pakpay community forest, established in 2009 has about 62.72 acres of forestland, managed by 45 households of the two villages.

Meanwhile, villagers are still planning on a rate to rent the cottage.

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