The Thermal Performance and Acceptance of a Thai Bamboo House in Tanzania

Lorenz von Seidlein 1, 2, Tip Ruchaitrakul 3, Konstantin Ikonomidis 4, 5, Salum Mshamu 6, Catherine Kahabuka 6, Jacqueline L Deen 7, Jakob B Knudsen 4, 5

  1. Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand
  2. Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, UK
  3. Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, Mae Sot, Thailand
  4. Ingvartsen Arkitekter, København K, Denmark
  5. Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademis Skoler for Arkitektur, Design og Konservering—Arkitektskolen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  6. CSK Research Solutions, Dar es Salam, Tanzania
  7. Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines, Manila, Philippines

Correspondence to Lorenz von Seidlein (MD, PhD),
Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok 10400, Thailand. Email:


Traditional, rural homes in tropical sub-Saharan Africa are often ground floor, waddle and daub structures and differ from the Asian elevated, air-permeable houses even though the climate zones are similar. We assessed the relative comfort of living in a Thai-style bamboo house compared with a traditional African mud house in a hot and humid zone in Africa.

A team of Thai craftsmen built a bamboo house in Magoda. Tanzania. The bamboo was locally sourced. We compared the relative comfort of living in a Thai style house with a traditional African house using temperature and humidity recordings over 4 months, particularly between 19:00 to 22:00 when decisions are made where to sleep and assessed acceptability of the Thai house to local residents.

The construction of a Thai-style bamboo house took two weeks after the construction materials were in-site. The indoor climate assessment of the house indicated that residents in the bamboo house are likely to feel comfortable 85% of the time while the residents in the mud house would only feel comfortable 34% during that time between 19:00 to 22:00. The bamboo house was well accepted by the villagers and has served as accommodation for the residents since hand-over in 2015.

The typical Thai bamboo house in Tanzania provided a substantially more comfortable indoor climate compared to the traditional African mud house. The residents were happy with the house design and continue to use the Thai bamboo house. Novel designs hold considerable promise as a sustainable approach to provide housing for the rapidly expanding population of Africa and may carry health benefits.

Keywords: malaria, vector borne diseases, mosquitoes, respiratory tract infections.