Two decades into the 21st century, radical changes have occurred in the field of architecture. Referring to the building construction materials, significant changes have taken place. One is not in awe of a building when he sees the use of high-end technology, but when there has been the use of a sustainable approach in design. While we look at it, the use of local materials today is highly applauded by many. 

Youtube for Architects: Mr.Heang Update
Mr. Heang Update ©www.youtube.com/

A Youtube Channel that goes by the title of Mr Heang Update, is run and handled by a YouTuber who started in Cambodia, widely known for the Angkor Wat Temple. Initially, he popularised the construction process of various structures through his Youtube videos in the former country. Further, he continued this sensation he instilled in his viewers and shot videos in parts of South America and the United States. These are not only built with an approach that essentially takes us back to thinking about the evolution of man and Paleolithic architecture, but also follows the building process using primitive tools only. The building materials used for construction are also anything picked up from the dense forest.

The channel was started in late 2018 and has gained over 2.5 million subscribers in less than two years. Besides, it has only 25 videos showcasing the building and creation process, out of which a few have received over 50 million views. Also, a fascinating video which belongs to the category of cooking and preparation has been featured. For an individual who enjoys viewing a video showing the vernacular construction process of some attractive structures that communicate well with the modern setting, the videos on this channel are a must watch!

A typical clip on this channel shows a man in a terrestrial attire where he only wears a bottom made using straw, an agricultural by-product. Walking barefoot in the dense forest, he collects all the materials that he can use for the construction, most common ones being bamboo, timber, straw and grass. He often feeds on animals found in his vicinity too. Keeping that aside, each video is more of a learning process for a viewer, especially from the field of architecture and specifically building construction. Taking an example of how he works while using no modern technology, the man uses his hand for measurements. This manual method works out accurately for him. He completely understands the bending of a piece of wood or bamboo. Also, the desired thickness of the primitive material to handle the load acted upon the structure by his body weight, something that architects and civil engineers in the present day spend years studying. Other than feeding on animals, he often builds small-scale built spaces for them. 

My top three videos on Mr Heang Update are:

1. 72 days in jungle and underground building

The video is shot in the United States. It showcases a man firstly digging underground and simultaneously chiseling out and giving a shape to the built space. The structure is unique in comparison to the rest. It displays segregation of spaces; the sleeping area, cooking space, as well as a small swimming pool, are separated. There is an aesthetic added to the building with the introduction of the green path and pebbles around the pool. It is intriguing to see how he builds a system with protruding bamboo shoots to channelise water into the pool. Overall, the 72-day construction process has been documented well. 

2. Rescue dog from huge pond and build small villa for them

Shot in Cambodia, the man rescues a dog entangled in a branch. Further, the man takes it with him and shows how he builds a kennel structure for the dog beside his dwelling. Without taking precise measurements, he begins the work based on his experience. It is startling to see how he builds the framework of this tricky structure. Moreover, he mixes mud with straw to clad the structure and ends by putting grass over it. 

3. Primitive Technology – Making a Beautiful Jungle Swing

This video records the making of a beautiful jungle swing through native methods in a deep jungle in Cambodia. It is reasonably a different one from the rest as it is mostly about the framework of the structure. The man uses an exquisite technique to tie the frame together. He uses timber for the flat base as well as the curved back. The large leaves of a tree form the cladding for back support while grass forms a comfortable base.

Other than these, there is another enthralling video which should not be missed. It is about making rice wine with natural fruits where the man makes a system which he uses for heating and bamboo shoots as chimneys. 

The videos on this channel are indeed useful to learn about such practical solutions and gain knowledge from different parts of the world. Today, in architectural education, students often attend hands-on workshops to learn about the construction process using bamboo and timber. This channel brings you that opportunity to watch, learn and investigate the use of natural materials in architecture today. 

Saakshar Makhija
Author

An architecture student who understands the power of words and feels that architectural journalism goes beyond design by playing a pivotal role in initiating meaningful dialogue. He believes that architects can change the world and make it a better place to live, work and play in.

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