Text and photos by Thomas Henderson-Schwartz
Tom, who has been living in Kg. Buayan for the last 7 months, reports on the successful ‘Buayan Work Week.’ 6 young volunteers from across Malaysia made a huge impact on the progress of the community building there.
The last month has been an exciting time for the Buayan project with significant progress on the construction. The past week, to further speed up the process, I had the pleasure of hosting 6 volunteers from around Malaysia; Vivian; Li Ie; Gordon Goh; Nur Ajwad; Julia Qistina and Ming Yang; who were interested all in gaining some experience.
We let the kampung men continue with the roof whilst we concentrated on the walls. We are testing a new type of Biocrete, using rice husk and lime as an infill material. The first job was to make the stud walls, using steel C-sections and fibre-cement board. We then mixed the lime and rice husk (in a ratio of 1 part lime to 4 parts rice husk) to infill into the stud walls. The resulting mixture has the appearance of soggy cereal. It compacted very nicely into the stud walls and thankfully we had no leaks. The next day I came back to the initial section that we had poured to see if it worked. The aim of the rice-crete infill is to act as a dehumidifier, much like an air conditioning system. To my great pleasure lying against the wall you could feel a significant drop in temperature.
We also continued to treat the bamboo for the floor, which has now been laid almost in it’s entirety. The work week team also made formwork for the fire place and poured the concrete. Plastering on the outdoor amphitheatre was another task that everyone got involved with. The local guys have almost finished the roof meaning that we now have a watertight building with floors, walls and roof – quite a great improvement.
But all work and no play makes Buayan a dull place so we took a lunchtime to learn how to fish with the local boys. We weren’t particularly successful but everyone enjoyed the swim. We also had a very enjoyable evening eating a freshly hunted wild boar (for the non-muslims). I have been keen to go hunting with the local guys and have finally convinced them to take me so I may have a little story about that in the coming weeks.
I have also now been joined by Nadhira on a permanent basis who will see the building through to completion which we expect to be around the end of January. A great thank you to the whole work week team who were incredibly enthusiastic and good humoured throughout their stay. The next blog will hopefully be of the finished building. Until then, Merry Christmas.
“[We] not only learn about architecture, we also built relationships with one another.”
– Vivian Yap, Kuala Lumpur. A-Levels student in Methodist College Kuala Lumpur
“The best moment is when we worked together to shovel and mix the ‘biocrete’. I had never heard of biocrete before and it is interesting to see that a mixture of lime, rice husk and water can be used to substitute the normal concrete [infill] we use.”
– Lau Li Ie, Kuala Lumpur. IB student in Cempaka International Ladies College
“[To] be open minded; there are many solutions to a problem, [to] be innovative and creative, and design in respect to local culture and tradition”
– Gordon Goh, Sabah. Landscape Architecture student in University of Tasmania, Australia (in reference to his experience and lessons learnt after being back-to-basics)
“I’m really proud with my accomplishments throughout this program because most of the activities were new for me”
– Nur Ajwad, Kuala Lumpur. IB student in Cempaka International Ladies College.
“YES, YES, YES! I think everyone will definitely enjoy this program even if it is not related to your career/studies”
– Julia Qistina, Kuala Lumpur. IB student in Cempaka International Ladies College.
“Yes, I love it. I WILL BE BACK”
– Chai Ming Yang, Johor. Architecture graduate of Taylor’s University.