Bamboo is an ancient building material that has been used in a variety of countries and building types. Due to its structural properties and versatility bamboo was used in areas like the tropics which tend to have a humid and hot climate. It was used in the construction of temporary structures, huts, mud houses, roofs, scaffolding, flooring, partitions, etc.The use of bamboo as a construction material in those areas was suitable because it is a fast-growing locally available resource, which is inexpensive, lightweight, allows natural ventilation, flexibility and has excellent construction qualities.
The native people of Asia, Africa Central and South America used bamboo for housing purposes. In China in the Qing Dynasty (221 B.C. – 206 B.C.), there have already been recordings about palaces made using bamboo. In areas like North China, Japan, and Korea, where the climate is cold and dry, bamboo was an important constructive or decorative element for the interior as the bamboo buildings were not practical in the winter. Some of the vernacular styles which used bamboo include:
1. Assam Type Houses
The vernacular architecture style of Assam involves the use of material like wood, bamboo, reed mesh and plaster set in the wooden framework used to create single storied houses which do not share common walls with adjacent buildings. Bamboo is an integral part of the lifestyle and economy of Assam. It is widely used for a pillar, linter, floor, roof, door, etc. The judicious use of material allows the light and flexible building to withstand frequent disasters like earthquakes, landslides, floods, etc, which would cause fewer causalities and they are inexpensive as well.
2. Zawlbuk House
The traditional buildings of the north-eastern region are constructed over varying topography consisting of plains, mountains, and frequent flood-affected areas. The primary load distributing element in these structures is bamboo. As bamboo is found in great abundance in the North Eastern region of India which allows availability and suitability for the material requirement with strength and lightness combined with extraordinary hardness and range in sizes. They use wood and bamboo to build their houses on the sloping land. The walls of the house are prepared by mud, bamboo, and cow-dung as materials for construction, the partitions are made of bamboo screens the flooring and roofing are also done from bamboo.
Giant houses built in Fujian from the 12th – 19th century with the main purpose of prevention against the plunder and attack of the outside forces. the circular or square-shaped houses with a courtyard in the center were constructed with mixing stone, bamboo, wood, beam to create 2 m thick walls without windows. these walls provided good earthquake resistance, good ventilation, and enough light. Despite building by local materials with the simple technique, Tulou is as strong as a fortress and can protect people from the outside dangers.
4. Thai houses
Many of the Thai houses are built with bamboo on a raised platform since many Thai villages are centered around rivers and canals, which are subject to flooding during the rainy season. Many other considerations such as locally available materials, climate, and agriculture have a lot to do with the style. Many houses are also built with bamboo, a material that is easily constructed and does not require professional builders. Although the house is built with prefab panels that are easy to rearrange, there are taboos against rearranging a house.
The traditional house of Rajasthan and Kutch uses locally available construction material like clay, bamboo, straw, timber, etc to create a circular structure with a cone-shaped roof along with materials like mud for walls and thatch for the roof to ensures minimum exposure to the hot and dry desert. The thick walls provide thermal comfort while wooden frames provide cross ventilation.
6. Bangladesh Houses
Bamboo is an easily growing organic material for houses of Bangladesh and thus is a popular material in Bangladesh to build houses with lightweight material, low cost, aesthetic appeal, proper cross-ventilation, and renewable construction. It is ideal for the warm, humid, tropical climate of Bangladesh. The Bangladesh traditional bamboo house form has been defined by c1imate, site, and purpose, available materials, and historical experience.
7. Bahareque architecture
Vernacular forms of housing such as bahareque developed the use of bamboo due to highly seismic areas. In bahareque architecture the framework was be made of wooden studs, wooden grid with bamboo strips to provide better infill adhesion. Inside the frame mud with pebbles or stones filled. To cover the wall plaster made of lime or mud was employed. In any case, the roof is made of wooden frames and clay tiles.
8. Nupa huts
Bamboo tradition in the Philippines is at least 2,900 years old. Nipa huts were the native houses of the Philippines. These temporary huts were made of bamboo to endure the climate and environment of the Philippines. The accessibility of the materials made it easier to rebuild nipa huts when damaged from a storm or earthquake. The walls were made of split and woven bamboo, and bamboo slats and poles were used as its support.