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the view from Likir village, Ladakh
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here is the miracle boo-crete water tank, a hybrid-method green building, constructed in conjunction with Allpa Janpirina Institiute for Ecological Regeneration, for the Pisambilla Community Center, Cayambe, Ecuador  in 2004.

a bit too long ago? hey, good building stuff is never out-of-date.

The Place.
Pisambilla Community is an indigenous Andino group located in the Cayambe region of Ecuador , in el mitad del mundo as they say, or the middle of the world. the community was in collaboration with Allpa Janpirina, for funding & instruction in sustainable-culture technology and ecological regeneration.

Allpa Janpirina
is  an  intercultural  organization  for  research,  development  and education in the  arts,  sciences  and  culture  of  sustainable  living  and  land  restoration.

an unsung hero among the world’s not-for-profit assistance organizations, this group led by long-time friend Jefferson Mecham, has been tirelessly providing good works since 1998.

The Birth of Boo-Crete.
originally, the project was to use metal-reinforcement for the community- center water tank. as usual, project funding was tight. we had heard of bamboo being used in Africa as a reinforcement material, and decided to give it a try here.

although the reinforcement method chosen is based on sound principle, what you see in this example is pure experiment. it happens.

~let’s walk you through the construction process~

1. water tank base is normally created by levelling a circular area large enough to contain the tank, and spreading a layer of gravel or sand on top to isolate the foundation concrete
from the soil:forming the base

also, with a high degree of
soil compaction, one may
eliminate the need for floor reinforcement- an additional time & cost savings.

this soil turns out to be nearly pure kangawa, a volcanic residue, and
perfect for load-bearing stresses.

the bamboo reinforcement frame is formed by first measuring the circumference of the tank and adding a 50 cm overlap, then making loads of bamboo strips, then wiring or tying them together, forming a one-foot (30 cm) square matrix:

place the frame in the wet foundation, by using enough hands to carry it to the tank site, and sighting in the proper location of the bamboo frame. the frame is lowered and fixed into the concrete:

tie overlap and add chicken wire , or hardware cloth, over the bamboo frame, to provide local-area reinforcement:

7. form & plaster the walls , not shown as I was away during this day (apologies!) is accomplished by cutting two wall-shapers out of sheet metal.

Wall-shapers are roughly 50 x 30 cm sheet metal with one handle on the left and one on the right, such that it is bendable, and can conform to the tank curvature. one person bends a shaper around the outside of the tank reinforcement, while another holds the second shaper inside. a third person pours concrete between the two, thus filling in the wall by small sections at a time until completed:

8. tank finishing details. this next photo is why I call this the MIRACLE water tank. we were then called away, and the crew managed finishing details.

BUT - the next step in the tank build was to be
PLASTER THE DOME (continuing the wall plastering technique overhead),


we returned a few days later horrified to see a 2-day old concrete job, bravely supporting at least 20,000 liters of water filled right to the brim.

this is a 1 to 2 inch-thick wet concrete wall….

thankfully, the tank was immediately drained and construction completed without breach or even small leaks, a true testament to an apparently sound boo-crete tank construction method:


The Boo-Crete Miracle Water Tank is another example of green building methods, using a rather maverick technique of using bamboo strips to reinforce concrete.


hold on here. perhaps ‘maverick’ is strictly due to the not-common marriage of the two materials within the construction trade.

traditionally both have been relegated to the far corners of heretofore wholely incompatible genres of building science. therefore, maverick in this context just means not often done.

how often has a member material from the eco-trades crossed over to the stodgy, culturally-approved conventional building camp? not often, to be sure. that alone creates suspicion for any do-gooder badass researcher out there.

perhaps the truth is, we just haven’t tried enough.
it means, maybe we don’t know.

Concrete-Metal Performance Dilemma. architects and material scientists have been lamenting the concrete-to-metal long term incompatibility dilemma for ages; the two just don’t age well as a couple.

one shrinks and has nasty reactive chemicals. the other corrodes and whittles away to nothing. not to mention a higher budget and environmental cost.

bamboo is stronger-by-weight than metal, holds topsoil, provides shade and animal habitat, and is regrown in less than 7 years.

In Defense of Boo-Crete.
the odd couple? perhaps. perhaps, we’re actually looking at a marriage more made in heaven than is the concrete-metal pairing. time will tell, as experience shows us true results, project by project.

and oh, by the bye? (now is 2017)


see yous later. think I’ll go work on my reinforcement-planting mini course in Thailand. perhaps even plant another water tank or two.

after all, the Universe favors the bold.

…where to from here, St. Peter?

All About The Straw!
green or natural building with

How Green Is My Mud?
why build with mud.

How To Sculpt Your Own Earth Oven.      
a SimPLife online course.

Live Activist Adventures
hands-on Design Professional
courses in Ladakh & Thailand.

pouring the foundation, 10 to 15 cm. of concrete is then spread over & levelled on the circular base. earth bricks are placed around the perimeter to contain the floor:pouring the foundation

(not shown: a 2” pvc conduit placed in the floor, with a valve pointing towards the  lower farm, as an emergency and cleanout drain.)

form a dome with bamboo , by tying in more strips to connect the walls structurally, overhead. a 30 cm matrix dome is thus created, to complete the tank framing:


WHY this tank did not blow out immediately upon receiving
far-too-much water while still in
the initial drying phase is a mystery shrouded in starkly naked, dumb luck~

and you’re seeing it right here, folks.

The Boo-Crete Miracle Water Tank:
A Green Building Project Tour

what the feck is boo-crete?the boo-crete miracle water tank

SimPLy this. Reinforced concrete using
Bamboo instead of metal. boo-crete is: