Difference between revisions of "Las Malvinas community center shade"

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This is the proposed draft budget for the shade structure.
This is the proposed draft budget for the shade structure.
{| class="wikitable sortable"
! Quantity !! Material !! Source !! Cost (RD$) !! Cost (US$) !! Total (RD$) !! Total (US$)
| 3 || Recycled Billboards || Billboards 'R Us
|align="right"| 333.00
|align="right"| 8.33
|align="right"| 1,000.00
|align="right"| 24.98
| 20 || Zinc Roofing || Ferreteria
|align="right"| 255.00
|align="right"| 6.38
|align="right"| 5,100.00
|align="right"| 127.50
| 20 || Wood || Ferreteria
|align="right"| 160.00
|align="right"| 4.00
|align="right"| 3,200.00
|align="right"| 80.00
| 1 || Tools || Nacional
|align="right"| 7,183.00
|align="right"| 179.58
|align="right"| 7,183.00
|align="right"| 179.58
{| class="wikitable sortable"
{| class="wikitable sortable"
Line 243: Line 216:
|colspan="4" align="right" | '''Total Cost'''  
|colspan="4" align="right" | '''Total Cost'''  
|align="right"| '''$15,683.00'''  
|align="right"| '''$15,683.00'''

Revision as of 19:28, 9 July 2014

Current Las Malvinas Community Center Shade Structure


This project is a collaboration between students enrolled in the Practivistas Dominicana Program and the rural community of Las Malvinas in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The community center in Las Malvinas currently functions as a space for the community to hold meetings and workshops; however, the lack of a durable shade and rain-proof structure along the outside of the building has prevented the community from being able to use the space when weather conditions are too hot or too rainy.


The client at hand is the community of Las Malvinas in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. They have requested that a rain/shade structure be built by Practivistas Dominicana at their local community center (Estacion Ecological Comunitario) between May-July 2014. Three of the students working on the project are from Humboldt State University in California and one student from Universidad Iberoamericana in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. After a community meeting was held, it was determined that the structure should be able to protect from rain as well as sun so the community could hold meetings, classes and workshops in comfort. Community members voiced their opinions that aesthetics, durability, and locality of materials were some of their main concerns in regards to the construction of the structure. Bamboo and palm fronds are some of the possible local materials that could be utilized.

Problem Statement

The objective of this project is to design and construct a durable shade and rain-proof structure for the community center in Las Malvinas using local materials at a low cost. The end product must improve the utilization of the outside space surrounding the community center.


This section includes all possible aspects thought up by the group members for this project as well as the community members of Las Malvinas and the directors of Practivistas Dominicana. These criteria were chosen to evaluate the project based on protection, locality, and durability. These criteria will help us to determine how much time, money, and effort should be invested in each aspect of the system based on its importance to our client (Las Malvinias).

Community meeting in Las Malvinas by current shade structure to determine community desires and criteria.

Criteria Constraints Weight (0-10)
Costs must be under $400 USD 8
Aesthetics must be pleasing to the eye and look professional and natural 7
Durability must be able to withstand the test of time, light vandalism and misuse, and fire 9
Weather must be able to withstand hurricanes, caribbean rain storms, and caribbean sun exposure 10
Protection must be able to protect occupants from rain and sun 10
Locality/Maintainability must be made from local and accessible materials and be easily and cheaply repaired 7

Literature Review

Client Information

Current Las Malvinas Community Center Shade Structure

The poverty­-stricken barrio of Las Malvinas is located in Santo Domingo Norte and consists of about 800 families. The community of Las Malvinas came together and decided what projects they thought were most urgent and important to their community. Among these projects was a new shade structure for their existing community center. The current shade structure was built with green bamboo, and is deteriorating quickly because of this. 


In designing a shade structure in Las Malvinas, it is necessary that the structure will remain physically sound and not deteriorate in a short amount of time. One of the main causes of deterioration is the harsh weather environment that is present in the Dominican Republic. From 1900-2009, the Dominican Republic has seen approximately 5 inches of average rainfall every month [1]. This value is the most varying weather condition, ranging from 2 inches per month in the dry season (December through April), to 10 inches per month in the rainy season (May through November) [1]. On average, the country encounters approximately 50-60 inches of rain each year [1]. While precipitation amounts vary, the temperature and wind conditions are relatively constant year round. The Dominican Republic experiences an average of 80 degree Fahrenheit temperatures and an average wind speed of 5 mph monthly each year [2]. While there is prevalent sun, rain, and wind exposure, there is also exposure to strong tropical storms and hurricanes. From 1944 to 1999, the probability of a tropical storm occurring and producing wind speeds greater than 40 mph is approximately 30% [3]. Once wind speeds increase over 74 mph, the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale classifies the storm as a hurricane, the probability of which is 10% in the Dominican Republic from 1944 to 1999 [4]. Finally, once wind speeds reach 111 mph the storm is classified as a Category 3-5 hurricane, the probability of which is 3-4% over that time frame [3]. These intense seasonal weather conditions need to be considered when designing any architectural structures in the Dominican Republic.

Lean-to Roof

Lean-to roofs are a very common design in forming small canopies or ground floor extensions. Traditional or ‘cut’ roofs usually comprise a series of sloping timbers (rafters) fixed to a wall plate or support posts at their feet, and a ridge board or wall plate at their head [5]. “The wall plate is a strip of timber which is bedded on the top of the wall, and which evenly distributes the load from the roof and provides good fixing for the rafters” [6]. The depth of the rafter depends on its span and loading, and the width is primarily to prevent twisting and to provide a sufficiently wide surface on which to nail the battens supporting the roof [6]. A good practice is to notch the bottom of the rafter where it sits on the plate or posts as this gives a good bearing and aids alignment of the rafters [6].


Because of its rapid growth, abundance, and ability to contribute to both environmental protection and economic growth, the use of bamboo as an alternative building material is ideal in most tropical Latin American countries [7]. In the Caribbean, Bambusa vulgaris is the most cultivated exotic species of woody bamboo [7]. Timing is an important first step when considering when to harvest bamboo for use as a sound building material. In order to ensure optimum strength and to avoid pest invasion, it is advised to harvest bamboo during the dry season when starch content in the bamboo sap is low [8]. In addition, bamboo that is 3-5 years old is ideal as a construction material [8], although other sources argue that bamboo must be between 4-7 years before harvesting [9]. Nevertheless, bamboo older than five years (or seven years according to Schröder), becomes harder, drier, less permeable, and begins to deteriorate faster [8][9]. One can identify a mature bamboo stalk by its color and absence of rings around the stalk. An immature stalk will be shiny, bright green, and will have many white bands around the stalk; a mature stalk ready for harvest will be dark green to gray and the bands will be harder to see; an overly mature bamboo stalk will be white in color and the foliage will be less green than mature bamboos [9]. Harvesting bamboo mindfully will ensure both a better building product and will secure bamboo growth in the future. When felling bamboo, it is important to cut above the first or second node above ground level using a machete or saw; this way, rainwater is not able to collect in culm, which could cause rot and damage the bamboo plant system [9]. After harvesting, storage is the next most important step. The bamboo culms should be stood upright and placed on a stone, making sure that the bamboo stalks do not come in contact with the ground, as this can impact the drying process [9].

Bamboo Treatments

1. Non­chemical

  • Clump­curing: Bamboo is cut and left in a vertical position to dry out, reducing the starch content. This method effectively prevents attack by beetles, but not termites or rot [10].
  • Smoking: Cut bamboo is stored above a fireplace to blacken the culm. The bamboo could be cracked during this process [10].
  • Soaking: Directly after harvest, culms are soaked in water or mud with stones placed on top to keep them from floating. After a few weeks, the culms are removed and dried for a week in a shaded area [10].

2. Chemical

  • CCA or AsCu: A 3:1:4 composition of copper­chrome­arsenic can be used to treat bamboo and other types of timber, however it is highly toxic to people [10]. Chrome acts as a fixing agent, copper prevents attack from fungi, rot, and pests, and arsenic makes the solution appropriate for outdoor use [11]. The fixation process can take a few weeks using a soaking method, but can ensure the use of bamboo for up to 50 years [11]. Formula: 3 parts copper sulphate­1 part sodium dichromate­4 parts arsenic pentoxide [11].
    • Concentrations:
      • For outdoor structures not fixed to the ground: 6%
      • For outdoor structures fixed to the ground: 10% [11]
  • CCB: A 1.5:3:5 ratio of boric acid­copper sulphate­sodium dichromate is a non­toxic method of treating bamboo to prevent pests and rot [11]. However, it has a lower degree of fixation due to the boron in the solution and may not be appropriate for outdoor use if in an area with a high amount of rainfall [10].
    • Formula: 1.5 parts boric acid­3 parts copper sulphate­5 parts sodium dichromate Concentrations:
      • For indoor use not fixed to the ground: 6%
      • For outdoor use fixed to the ground: 8­10% [11]
  • Zinc Chrome: A 1:1 ratio of zinc­chrome can be used to treat bamboo. The mixture trends to absorb water from the air, The mixture tends to absorb water from the air, making it look wet in areas with high humidity and wet seasons.
    • Formula: 1 part zinc chloride­1 part sodium dichromate
    • Concentration: for structures outdoors and fixed to the ground: 10% [11]
  • Copper chrome acetic: A 5.6:5.6:0.25
    • Formula: 5.6 parts copper sulphate­5.6 parts sodium dichromate­0.25 acetic acid Concentration: for outdoor structures fixed to the ground: 8% [11]
  • Creosote: Coal tar and creosote are effective in preventing attack from fungi and insects. Due to its oily nature, it is water resistant and suitable for outdoor use. It is considered to be a cost effective material and primarily suitable for outdoor use due to its odor and color [11].
  • Light Organic Solvent­based Preservatives (LOSP): The organic solvents are more expensive than creosote. " The organic solvent acts as a carrier for toxic molecules and later evaporates, leaving the active ingredients behind" [11].

Treatment Methods

Butt Treatment: Place freshly cut bamboo culms with leaves in tact into a bucket containing preservatives or treatment chemicals. After a couple weeks, transpiration will occur and leaves will change color and indicate the preservatives have reached the top. Culms can be placed in empty buckets to gather left over preservatives during the drying phase [10].

Open tank: Place bamboo in an open tank filled with preservatives and leave for a week with a cover on it. After a week, dry the bamboo for a few days and collect leftover preservatives [10].


Untreated bamboo is more likely to attract unwanted pests, mainly termites and beetles. Powderpost beetles feed on the starch and sugars in the culm of the bamboo, and often leave a thin outer layer of bamboo once feeding is complete [12]. Subterranean termites infiltrate bamboo culms at the base of the plant, building colonies as they make their way up the culm. Infiltration can be prevented by using cement or other masonry at the base of construction projects [12]. Drywood termites often infiltrate higher on the bamboo culms and build their nests inside [12]. They can be prevented by using specific treatments. Other posts that are associated with bamboo are the: bamboo aphid, noxious bamboo mealybug, bamboo scale, bamboo spidef mite, persea mite, and the giant whitefly [13].

Bamboo Mechanical Properties

The cellulose fibers in bamboo act as reinforcement similar to reinforcing steel bars in concrete or glass-fiber in polyester-resin [14]. A bending force causes compression stresses on the upper part of the bamboo beam, parallel to the fibers, which does not pose a problem for the material. However, this compression causes strain perpendicular to the fibers, which occurs in between the fibers of the material, which is weak in taking strain. This, then, is the weak point in designing and building with bamboo for a beam; however, if the load is removed, the specimen will return to its original straight form, a definite advantage in the case of a hurricane or earthquake [14]. Compression force is another factor to take into consideration when designing the frame and foundation of a bamboo based structure, but is not easily evaluated. During longitudinal compression on bamboo, the bamboo becomes thicker in the middle and gives a false impression of compressive strength, when in reality, the friction at both ends of the culm are holding the material together, similar to a beer barrel [14]. Creep, or the increasing deformation under long-term loading, is negligible in bamboo. As stated earlier, bamboo structures are highly advantageous in the presence of an earthquake, it is lightweight and the hollow form gives much stiffness. While the material is great at reforming to its original state after a load is removed, such as a high wind load during a hurricane, it is very lightweight and easily blown away if not properly secured and jointed together.

Structural Integrity

“Next to the foundation and the roof covering, the basic frame is the part of a house most often made partly or wholly of materials other than bamboo” [15]. If the difference in cost can be accommodated, the use of more durable hardwood is preferred for the frame. This is because hardwoods make stiffer joints and more rigid construction than bamboo, partly because a greater load is placed on the frame and partly because certain hardwoods are naturally more resistant to rot fungi and wood-eating insects than untreated bamboo [15]. However, in locations such as the Dominican Republic where earthquakes occur frequently, a bamboo-framed structure may remain intact longer than any other type. Regardless of frame material, a cement foundation separating the frame and earth is desired in order to inhibit rot and insect infestation, as well as increase the strength of the design. The structural elements that compose the frame of a conventional all-bamboo structure are similar to those found in all timber frames: Corner posts, girders or plates, joists, studs, struts, tie beams, rafters, sheathing, etc. Because of their high strength-weight ratio, bamboo roofs carry excellent advantages for the structural integrity of the design [15]. Most bamboos have a tendency to split easily, a tendency the precludes the use of nails, while also limiting the range of techniques suitable for the framing and joining of structural units [15]. A remedy is to make end cuts just beyond a node where feasible as the nodes have a higher shear coefficient than the internodes and therefore have fewer tendencies to split, or by fastening joints using thongs or other lashing materials as opposed to nails or screws [15].

Coconut Palm Fronds

Palm Tree Fronds available in Las Malvinas

Palm fronds have been used as a traditional building material in tropical locations around the world. The time for which coconut frond thatch will last as a construction material depends on the palm species and how the thatch is harvested and woven [16] It is most ideal to choose a larger palm frond with long leaflets and it is advised to use only fresh palm fronds as opposed to dead palm fronds since fresh fronds will be less brittle and have more strength as a building material [16]. The basic process to create a coconut frond panel is as follows: the coconut frond will first need to be evenly divided from the spine of the palm frond with a machete [16]. The fifth leaflet is bent in the opposite direction of its natural growth and woven over the fourth leaflet, third leaflet, and so on using the formula (5+2+2) [16]. ‘Pegs’ should be created at intervals of 8-10 woven leaflets in order to create a hook to ensure the woven leaflets will be secured together [16]. To prevent water leakage, the leaflets must be well opened while weaving, and the woven palm frond at the end of the process must be tied together to make a complete woven panel of thatch [16]. One of the negative aspects of palm leaves is their durability. According to a thesis about construction in the Dominic Republic "There are still some houses that has roof made of palm leaves or yagua, this material is not very resistant to rain or sun so it needs to be replaced after just some years" [17]

Living Shade

Also called pergolas, living shade structures combine a structural frame made from wood or other strong material and climbing plants to create shade for an area. In the Dominican Republic, climbing plants such as Passionfruit Vine (P. edulis flavicarpa) naturally need the support of a wall or another plant for climbing in order to receive more sunlight [18]. Therefore, climbing plants could be an appropriate option to include in this shade structure.

Upcycled Industrial Materials (Plastic, Metal Roof Sheeting)

Materials such as plastic bottles and plastic containers flood the waste stream in Santo Domingo, most of which end up polluting nearby rivers and the ocean. In order to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering nearby waterways, the use of plastic bottles for a shade structure could serve as an appropriate technology. South African designer Heath Nash created shade structures from upcycled plastic bottles, with frames for the structure made from scrap metal and wood [19]. Metal roof sheeting is commonly found as scrap pieces in Santo Domingo. Durability, low maintenance, and high UV protection make metal roof sheeting a viable option as a material used in a shade structure [20].

Final Design

Fig 1: Shade design angle 1  
Fig 1a: Shade design angle 2  
Fig 1b: Shade design angle 3  


This is the proposed timeline for when things should be done.

Objectives Proposed Date Completion Date Responsible
Choose Project June 6th June 6th Team
Literature Review June 7th June 7th Team
Harvest bamboo, design discussion, community meeting June 8th June 8th Team
Harvest bamboo June 10th June 10th Team
Harvest bamboo, purchase materials June 12th June 12th Team
Demolition, dig post hole, purchase recycled billboards June 14th June 14th Team
Budget, timeline, final design, purchase materials June 15th June 15th Baron
Prep bamboo for posts, finish demolition June 17th June 17th Team
Install posts, begin construction June 19th June 19th Team
Construction June 21st June 21st Team
Construction June 22nd June 22nd Team
Construction June 24th June 24th Team
Construction June 26th June 26th Team
Construction June 28th June 28th Team
Construction June 29th June 29th Team
Finish and clean up July 1st July 2nd Team
Presentation July 3rd July 3rd Team


This is the proposed draft budget for the shade structure.

Quantity Material Source Cost (RD$) Total (RD$) Rope Las Malvinas 400.00 400.00
15 Wire Arroyo Norte 140.00 140.00
20 Corrugated Zinc Sheets Las Malvinas 1,000.00 1,000.00
15 2x4s Arroyo Norte 2,000.00 2,000.00
3 Recycled Billboards Billboards 'R Us 333.00 1,000.00
15 Recycled 55gal Drums Arroyo Norte 300.00 4,500.00
1 Tools Nacional 2,183.00 2,183.00
1 TBD Santo Domingo 8000.00 8000.00
Total Cost $15,683.00
Total Cost (RD$) $16,483.00
Total Cost (US$) $412.08

How to

See a step-by-step process of how this structure was built and how to recreate a similar structure here and below:

Before building with bamboo, it is advised to research techniques and recommendations for appropriate season for harvesting as well as methods of harvesting and drying. (For our project we used bamboo that was still partially green which is not desirable but was necessary based on time and resource constraints).

Build a Bamboo Shade Structure
Demolition Step 1: Removing the previous damaged shade structure
Harvest Bamboo Step 2 : When harvesting bamboo, select poles that appear darker green to gray in color, and around 3-5 years of age. Cut just above the culm closest to the ground with a machete, and gently set bamboo on the ground to divide into desirable sizes.
Bamboo, Concrete, & Rebar Step 3: After taking proper measurements for the location of your desired shade structure, cut bamboo to appropriate lengths. Make a concrete mixture to secure the poles into the ground surrounding the perimeter of the existing structure. Insert rebar into the center of the bottom culm and ensure that the concrete is inside the entire bottom culm.
Secure bamboo with steel clamps Step 4: When concrete is in the entire bottom culm, fasten steel clamps around the diameter of the bamboo and leave to dry (may take several days).
Digging Holes Step 5: Dig holes that are wide enough and deep enough so that the bamboo poles will sit securely in the ground.
Fill holes with concrete Step 6: Fill holes with concrete and leave to dry for several days without disturbing the posts. (You may need to add supports on the side of the beams to prevent tilting).
All posts are up Step 7: Once all the supporting posts are up and cemented into place, they are allowed to dry for several days before beginning construction.
Bamboo Beams Installation Step 8: The tops of the bamboo columns are cut into a wide 'U' shape so that the bamboo beams cam be put into place.
Setting bamboo beams in place Step 9: Set the beams in place and drill holes in the bamboo to secure with wire (we also used 2x4 beams because we needed install corrugated zinc metal sheets on the roof).
Bamboo 2x4 Frame Step 10: Installing the 2x4 beams in preparation for the zinc roof.
Bamboo zinc.jpeg Step 11: Lay down the zinc panels and secure with roofing nails.
Bamboo Truss Step 12: On the other side of the structure, we built a truss. The bottom bamboo pole has been cut to lock in with the pole on top. Wire was used to secure the poles together.
Bamboo 2x4 truss Step 13: Truss is attached to a 2x4 beam in the center.
Billboard Step 14: Measuring billboard, rolling and stapling across a 2x4 beam to attach to existing zinc roof and bamboo posts.
Attaching billboard Step 15: Billboard is attached to a 2x4 beam using a staple gun and then the beam is nailed into the zinc roof.
Attaching billboard panels with glue Step 16: Billboard is attached to another panel using vinyl glue.
Bamboo Finished Project Step 17: The finished project!


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The finished shade structure consisted 2x4s lashed to bamboo poles which were filled with concrete and rebar and then sunk into holes in the ground filled with concrete. On one side of the fogon corrugated zinc panels were installed, and on the other side of the fogon the team built a bamboo truss. The team installed billboard vinyl panels over the bamboo truss by nailing down the vinyl to the zinc roof, and at the other end of the panel the team lashed onto the bamboo posts. On the side of the fogon with the billboard vinyl, it will be necessary to install more bamboo support beams underneath the vinyl to ensure its security and flatness.


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  19. "S. African Designer Heath Nash Builds Shade Structure Out of Recycled Bottles." Inhabitat. Inhabitat, 27 July 2011. Web. 07 June 2014. <http://inhabitat.com/s-african-designer-heath-nash-builds-shade-structure-out-of-recycled-bottles/recycled-bottle-shades-heath-nash-8/>
  20. Cancer Council. "Qualities of Shade Materials." Sunsmart Information Sheet (2009): 1-17. Cancer Council, Jan. 2009. Web. 6 June 2014. <http://www.actcancer.org/downloads/File/Qualities%20of%20Shade%20Materials%20Information%20Sheet%2009.02.09.pdf>