Bamboo is an abundant natural resource available around the world’s tropical and subtropical regions. Since ancient times it has been a well-established building material due to its natural characteristics and good mechanical properties. Technological advancement and the development of modern material science has increased the durability of bamboo as a primary building material. Bamboo is no longer seen as a poor man’s timber rather it is now a material of aesthetic and sustainability. However, bamboo architecture had recently enjoyed a new era of global concern for its significantly less economic and environmental drawbacks. This article will discuss some of the recent practices and trends in bamboo architecture.

Bioorganic architecture: A bamboo grove can be turned into an architecture. In Hengkeng Village, Xu Tiantian designed a theatre for villagers by bending and weaving the bamboo into a dome-shaped canopy with a circular opening at the top and a simple circle of stone benches. This low-tech bioorganic approach is inspired by a scroll created by the sixteenth-century painter Qui Ying that depicts a ‘Studio for Planting Bamboo’. In the Songyang region, bamboo groves are used as scenic backdrops to the villagers to provide leisure and cultural activity. To construct this unique architecture, the architect accounts for the rapid growth and bendable quality of the material. Once installed the living canopy needs little regular maintenance: younger bamboo sprouts are required to be woven with the existing dome structure and old poles are removed from time to time. This bioorganic canopy with a bucolic landscape facilitates village opera performance to individual meditation space. The combination of architecture and historic literati tradition have turned a village theatre in natural surroundings into an appealing tourist destination. 

Natural Sound Absorber: Bamboo as Natural Sound Absorber. Sound absorbent made from synthetic fibre is one of the factors that contribute to the issue of global warming. Bamboo could be the best alternative to synthetic fibre such as glass wool, rock wool, foam glass which are popular in the industry and building sector. Research found that the bamboo fibre has the same absorption coefficient as the commercial glass fibre. By utilizing the hollow structure of bamboo and the composition of various arrangements of bamboo tubes can provide good sound insulation.

Curved Bamboo: Bamboo is a flexible natural material with limited natural curvature. To achieve exact curvature architects and designers can apply some artificial methods. Curves of bamboo structure provide structural solutions and aesthetic outlook. There are two methods of bamboo bending techniques: the hot bending method and the cold bending method. Hot bending methods are subdivided into immersion techniques and combustion techniques and Slashing bamboo and bundling bamboo are two types of cold bending methods. For example, the bamboo arch and rings of the ARKOM Jogja installation at the Kartinstalation event in Rembang, Central Java (2015) was built by slashing and bundling techniques. House, Bali, designed by Oren Hardy & Jorg Stamm was applied to the cold bending method.

Bamboo envelope: Bamboo screening system is a good green building material for designing a sustainable and energy-saving breathing building. It provides insulation during winter and cool in summer. This natural shell of bamboo can cover the most sun-exposed facades and provide dramatic shadow all day around. For instance: a Bamboo passive house designed by Karawitz architects in Bessancourt, France in 2009. Bamboo screening covers the facades in the North and continues to the roof. This is the first in Paris that was awarded the European certification of PHI “PassivHaus Institut”. Another example is the Bamboo Housing in Carabanchel, it is one of the biggest social housing in Europe. This five-story residential building is screened with bamboo blinds. Terraces are enclosed with bamboo louvres to protect from East-West sun exposure.

5 things Architects can do with Bamboo
©Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel, ETH 3) Zürich / FCL Singapore

Bamboo reinforced concreteBamboo can be incorporated into reinforced concrete. The demand for steel-reinforced concrete is increasing in developing nations. But they have to depend on the mercy of the global market dominated by industrial countries to import steel as they do not have the means to produce. Architects in countries without steel industries of their own are interested in replacing steel reinforcement with bamboo in reinforced structural concrete. The natural form of bamboo has some limitations when it is used as reinforcement in concrete. To overcome those Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich has developed a new bamboo composite material. The material is made of bamboo fibres mixed with organic resin and could serve as an effective alternative for steel in reinforced concrete. Bamboo has a potential future to replace steel as it cannot be produced easily, on the other hand, bamboo is abundant, sustainable, and extremely resilient.

For our sustainable future, architects part of the new movement is putting bamboo construction back in the spotlight. Leading architects like Kengo Kuma and Shigeru Ban are experimenting with bamboo. 

Md. Abdus Satter

I am Pursuing my bachelors’ degree in architecture at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST). I enjoy experiment with new and off-track ideas in architecture. I am interested in politics, history, and architectural criticism.

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