Bamboo in focus
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. 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 an 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 by provide families with a stable source of income for a growing range of micro, small and medium sized enterprises.
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.
Hear designer Elora Hardy’s inspiring story:-
Elora Hardy and Ibuku – bamboo design and construction in Bali
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.
USA – innovating with bamboo
And its 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 galvanized wire ties. This simple solution is not only dramatic visually but also enables natural ventilation to dry the hay.
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 traveled 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.
A final note:
Bamboo Bikes ?
Bamboo doesn’t require the same level of processing as hardwood. It can even processed at home – which is what inspired one entrepreneur from Melbourne to build prototypes of bamboo bikes (!) “Bamboo can be easily cut, mitred, sanded, painted and even bent with simple hand tools” Mik Efford’s big idea is beautiful, functional and renewable bikes and bamboo was just the ticket. He has has three prototypes on the road… so keep a look out.