Construction


Bamboo roofing takes advantage of the natural curvature of halved bamboo and a slight downward angle of the roof to direct rain water similar to a traditional gutter system. The bamboo lasts for up to 5 years if it is properly maintained and is conveniently replaced since bamboo is an abundant resource in the area.


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The sago tree is a central component of everyday life in Ngavalus, with every part of the tree being used in some way. The leaves of mature sago trees specifically are used to make roofing because they have become thicker and more durable over time. Roofs made using sago leaf “shingles” can last any where from one to three years, depending on the location of the house. If the house is positioned under trees, the roof will last up to one year simply because it begins to deteriorate with prolonged exposure to heavy branches or falling fruits.


Thatched roofs are the main method of roofing found in the communities of Papua New Guinea. They are made from layered bundles of cane, grass, and leaves tied onto roof supports. This directs rain water off the sides of the roof (see Figure 1). The fires made inside the house play a vital role in preserving the roof thatch. Eventually, the entire inside of the roof is preserved by the smoke, preventing decay. A space is left between the roof line and the top of the walls to allow for ventilation (see Figure 2).


Woven bamboo walls are cost effective due to the immense supply of bamboo and the willing community of laborers. Once woven, the walls are secured to a house frame using either nails or rope. The house frames are constructed using trees from the surrounding environment. The blinds are usually applied to the walls in double-layers. This and the tight-weave of the blinds result in the walls being completely watertight. The H.I.T. team was able to observe and participate in blind weaving in Anesmetki, a small village near Raunsepna.