Date of Submission

Spring 5-9-2022

Degree Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture



Committee Chair/First Advisor

Christopher Welty

Secondary Advisor

Arief Setiawan


Buenaventura is one of Colombia's most important cities, it houses one of the biggest ports on the continent and covers more than 60% of Colombia's sea imports and exports. Unfortunately, most of the population is impoverished and lives in improvised shelters made up of wood, trash, and debris with no access to potable water, electricity, and sewage systems. How can architecture be used to create better conditions? How can we use local materials in Colombia to design affordable and aesthetically pleasing settlements for the inhabitants of Buenaventura?

My research starts with materials that are sustainable, economical, local, and recyclable, that the citizens of Buenaventura can easily access. This includes bamboo, which is heavily produced in Buenaventura. The structural properties of bamboo are remarkable, thanks to its strength and sustainable aspects. Bamboo is three times stronger than timber and grows very quickly under the right conditions. Another material is coconut, a vernacular fruit that is highly produced in Colombia. Recent experiments explore the use of fibers of the coconut husk for building materials, such as roof tiles and insulations.

This thesis proposes a construction manual that as a basis, will redesign the current stilt house by incorporating vernacular materials, structural components, local and sustainable techniques, and passive systems. It will also serve as training grounds for unskilled laborers in the community and encourage them to better the current conditions in Buenaventura. The goal is to achieve a design that not only solves a problem but can also be used as a precedent in other programmatic applications.

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