What are houses in different countries made of?
July 23, 2014 10:42 PM   Subscribe

I need to get a general sense of the primary building materials used for housing in a few different countries around the world. I'm looking for suggestions on where to find this type of information.

Specifically, the countries I'm looking for are Colombia, Peru, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and South Africa. If you have any info on what common materials to build houses with there are (and by housing I mean any thing that people live in, not just traditional houses but apartments, condos, etc, as well), it would be a huge help! For example, are houses usually made from concrete, adobe, some kind of wood, bamboo, etc.

Alternately, if you could suggest any places out on the internet that might have some of this type of information that would also be great, I have had very limited luck so far. Thanks
posted by tokaidanshi to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Of those places, I've only been to Thailand and I don't remember seeing much construction there, but I have checked out buildings in Chile and Vietnam and the construction methods for homes and smaller commercial buildings were similar in both places - reinforced concrete with brick (various types) infill that is later rendered. I also saw timber frame construction in Chile, which made extensive use of plywood. Can't remember details, but there seemed to be much more ply in the frame than you would ever see in a timber frame house in AU.
posted by mewsic at 4:07 AM on July 24, 2014

Chile has some of the worlds strictest codes for earthquake resistance, hence extensive use of plywood in wood frame construction and lots of reinforcing steel in the concrete.
posted by rockindata at 4:38 AM on July 24, 2014

Buildings in Manila were primarily concrete and cinder block, though there are plenty of super modern office buildings and condos downtown. I mostly saw wood as an accent or used upstairs where it was less likely to be damaged in a flood. In the poorer areas of the city housing was made of whatever could be scrounged - wood, corrugated metal, tarps.

Out in the provinces there were also lots of concrete and cinder block buildings, but there was a lot more use of bamboo and palm leaves (for poorer homes or for smaller buildings like extra shelters. One of the houses I stayed in had wood and bamboo walls on a concrete foundation.
posted by brilliantine at 5:43 AM on July 24, 2014

Highrise construction techniques tend to be adopted the world over: there are only so many ways to do it, and each innovation seems to drive out the earlier models.

As for single-dwelling homes, I've observed that traditional construction techniques in Australia (brick veneer on a timber framework, mostly) are changing in favor of "structural insulated panels" on a manufactured timber or steel frame, and covered with rendering. Things may change more slowly in the countries you list, though, because labour is probably a much lower component of overall cost.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:49 AM on July 24, 2014

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