The Wonders of Bamboo
Bamboo is one of the fastest growing renewable resources. The species used for flooring (Phyllostachys pubescens) can be re-harvested every 5–6 years unlike hardwood trees which take several decades to be replaced. In Australia bamboo has no grading or strength certification so there’s a limit to what you can build with it here. But thankfully there’s no limit to design inspiration.
Bamboo is actually a grass and can grow almost anywhere. It has uni-directional fibres which makes it very strong and it naturally grows in wonderful long lengths which can be bent to shape to suit.
In Beijing, international organisation International Network for Bamboo and Rattan is bringing together technical support and training for organisations from over 50 countries. For African countries such as Ghana and Ethiopia bamboo has been shown to assist in reducing poverty and rehabilitating degraded land. In addition it can provide families with a stable source of income for a growing range of micro, small and medium sized enterprises.
Bamboo for a farm shed
And it’s not just in Asia that bamboo is opening up possibilities. American architectural firm De Leon & Primer have re-imagined the farm shed with their innovative use of bamboo in the Mason Lane Farm Operations Facility in Goshen, Indiana. Three layers of long bamboo stalks are woven together in a lattice like fashion and held together with galvanised wire ties. This simple solution is not only dramatic visually but also enables natural ventilation to dry the hay.
Designing magical bamboo places
In Bali, one of our nearest neighbours, something really inspiring is going on. Elora Hardy and Ibuku Architecture are redefining the landscape of design through their organic bamboo structures. Their mandate rings true on so many levels: “We exist to provide spaces in which people can live in an authentic relationship with nature. We do this by designing fully functional homes and furniture that are made of natural substances and built in ways that are in integrity with nature.”
From their award winning Green School to a purpose built Green Village they are opening our minds up to what is possible with bamboo.
Hear designer Elora Hardy’s inspiring TED talk:-
Green School, Ubud, Bali
Green School’s not-for-profit vision can’t help but inspire you. Designed and founded by John and Cynthia Hardy (Elora’s mum and dad) it has received international acclaim for integrating academic learning and environmentally sustainable practices into its curriculum.
It has an award winning interactive campus that features organic gardens renewable energy projects, a breeding centre for endangered birds and of course their innovative bamboo architecture. Their community of students teachers, parents and friends represents 40 countries in 6 continents.
I travelled out to see Green School on a recent trip to Bali. I arrived too early for the official tours which begin at 3.30. The entrance pavilion rising organically out of the cool lush surrounds was a wonderful tiny taste of the spirit of this quiet design revolution taking place. Even as I negotiated in vain with the impenetrable security guards to let me have a quick look I was struck by tiny details of the entry which displayed a fine eye and playful sense of design