New brick product promises affordable homes in Madagascar

New brick product promises affordable homes in Madagascar

The bricks are made using locally-sourced earth and lime

The company claims that the bricks, which are made from chemically-modified earth and are unfired, will halve construction costs from €400 to €200 (£178-£352) per square metre and will allow millions across Madagascar and Africa to have their first properly-built house.

The company says that traditional brick manufacturing methods have been ‘forgotten’ by local people. “They are thus rediscovering the benefits of building with earth materials, using old knowledge with some advanced technologies,” said a spokesperson.

Groupe Filatex says that the bricks are produced using locally-sourced materials and are of a type traditionally used in Madagascar known as “briques de terre compresse” (BTCs) – compressed earth blocks.

BTCs normally use cement as a binder and although imported cement is also used in the Malagasy bricks, 50% of it is replaced by locally-burnt lime, which absorbs atmospheric carbon as it cures. This, and the fact that the bricks do not have to be fired in a kiln, drastically reduces the product’s carbon footprint, claims Groupe Filatex.

The company says that the use of cheap local raw materials and their reduced transport costs means that new homes can be built more affordably.

The bricks are designed to be interlocking and self-aligning, making construction simple and efficient. “This allows the opening of employment opportunities to the local workforce and the development of know-how and construction skills,” said the Groupe Filatex spokesperson.

“The design of the bricks ensures accurate alignment and regularity resulting in a smooth and regular finish of the wall. The use of BTCS, anchored in the Malagasy building tradition, ensures the continuation of local customs and appropriation of a valuable practise by Malagasy people.”

Groupe Filatex has developed the new bricks in partnership with a local manufacturer which expects to start full commercial production next year. Groupe Filatex says that it is looking to export the product to help support and accelerate sustainable development in Africa.

Hasnaine Yavarhoussen, CEO of Groupe Filatex said: “Our mission is to develop solutions which can benefit the Malagasy people at large. Housing, just like energy, is one of the core needs to which too many people still do not have access.

“We are investing in solutions that guarantee the basic standards of living to our communities; these bricks are a solution which can radically transform the lives of thousands of people, which is why we are committed to bringing this project to life.”

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