Prefabrication Building Methods Post Typhoon Yolanda Philippines help?

Prefabrication Building Methods Post Typhoon Yolanda Philippines help? 1

Hi there, Mabuhay Bula sa Pilipinas! – Greetings from The Philippines!

I am new to the Group, yet very familiar with the Airoh Prefab, the BISF House, and the Precast Concrete Cornish House, all from the Post WW2 era. I am also a UK Architect who has been living and working here for several years.

Both I, and a small team of staff here have been investigating various forms of Prefabrication Methods, as part of a Government Sponsored Project following Typhoon Yolanda, in October of last year.

Prefabrication Building Methods Post Typhoon Yolanda Philippines help? 2

Most Domestic Construction here, follows Reinforced Hollow Blockwork, and lots of In-Situ Concrete! Progress is ‘Lamentable,’ and the finished quality (unless highly supervised), is ‘Poor’ to say the least. The reasoning behind such construction techniques, is that it is ‘Cheap!’ – In reality, it is not! Even with labourers being paid little more than £4.00 Per Day, the ‘Overhead’ of a site soon ‘Mushrooms,’ as the time extends to fit the job! – Twelve months is quite common to build a 3 Bedroom 850 Sq Ft House! Various ‘Cartels’ operate also, in the supply of Blocks, and of Concrete; which inflates material costs artificially, and also extends construction time.

On the other side of the coin, we have the ‘Barangays and Municipalities.’ These can be likened to a Parish Council, and Local Authority, for the purposes of Planning, and Building Control. Any construction with is not Hollow Block and Concrete, is outside the ‘Comfort Zone’ of the Building Inspectors. In a similar way to the US, Prefabricated Construction is alienated by the Construction Establishment as a form of ‘Protectionism!’ – Imagine Factory Assembled Construction having to be dismantled when it arrives on site, merely to fulfil the ‘Whim’ of a Municipality Engineer!

Whilst our Climate, and the requirements of a House here, are very different to the UK, we have been commissioned to propose viable ‘Prefabricated’ options for Post Disaster Housing. Although still in the early stages, we are attempting to develop Steel Framed Solutions, for Rapid Deployment, with all of the components being capable of being used in the construction of permanent housing, at a later date.

Our presentation requires us to ‘Evidence’ those Historic Systems that have been investigated. The Airoh Prefab, and Cornish Houses are well ahead, yet we have some gaps to fill with Gibberd’s BISF House.

Having noticed some of the original drawings on the website, I wondered whether it would be possible to use this information in order to prepare a set of Working Drawings. In short, we gain from more comprehensive information, and in return the drawings (2D CAD and 3D Renders) can be given back, to become a reference source for ‘BISF House’ in the future.

Kind Regards

Nagpapagawa Bob
(Bob The Builder)


  1. I have just realised that the drawing above looks like Gibberd’s House Type for John Howard & Co. The two Projects were being run simulataneously, and around 1,500 Howard Houses were built. Although there are similarities between the Howard and the BISF, the latter was thought to have a greater appeal to the Public, as it looked less like a ‘Prefab.’

    Structurally there are fundamental differences too. The ‘Howard’ could use a Precast Ring Beam at Ground Floor Level, in order to use a Suspended Slab, overcoming many settlement issues. The Main Columns were RSJ Sections, rather than RSCs, and they were complete on every grid. This gave additional stiffness to the frame, allowing more diverse Floor Plans. The First Floor and Roof on the BISF are essentially Diaphragms sitting on Steel Legs. This is why the ‘Sway Bracing’ is so important on the BISF.

    Obviously having two similar projects at the same time led Gibberd along parallel lines of thought.

  2. Hi Bob
    Excellent point actually with the additional stanchions of the type C and of course the all important Gable walls and cross members.

    Not too dissimilar to this old prototype drawing which also shows the cross section and internal layout etc.

    Nice render btw. :0)

  3. Hi Marc,

    Relevant to this Post and also to Roger (Detached from Semi-Detached). Yesterday (01 May 2014) was a Public Holiday here (Labour Day). Most of my guys carried on working, as they have not long returned after the Easter Break. Attached is a ‘Quick 3D Render’ of a BISF (Type C) as a Detached. The Base 2D Drawing has been been prepared from what information we have, and ‘Structurally’ it appears to work, provided that the both Gable Walls are framed in the same way, and there is adequate Wind Bracing on all four corners, and to the roof. The Type C works better as a Detached, due to the additional stiffness given by the Beams and Columns which bisect the Lounge/Bedroom Window. Not much consolation for Roger though.

  4. Thanks Marc! What a small world indeed – I am living and working in Antipolo (25Kms from Manila). In another life I was based in West Bromwich, and also ran the Estates Dept, at Good Hope Hospital, for a while!

    The lads, and I here are looking forward to your response.



  5. Mabuhay Bob and welcome.
    I know the Philippines well as my Brother and his wife run schools in Metro Manila.
    I am also aware of the complete devastation caused to the South from Yolanda and remember well tracking the events live as they happened on liveleak and other sites.
    I think that there is much to be gained from using prefabricated building techniques in the damaged areas with some building methods being better suited than others given the frequency of tropical storms that regularly hit the area.
    I am not actually in the office right now but I hope to provide a more in depth reply upon my return later today as this requires more of an indepth reply than what I can provide right now.
    I shall update you as soon as possible