Bamboo: The Latest Architecture and News
In architecture we are so caught up in creating something new, we often forget about what happens at the end of a building’s life cycle—the unfortunate, inevitable demolition. We may want our buildings to be timeless and live on forever, but the harsh reality is that they do not, so where is all the waste expected to go?
As with most non-recyclable waste, it ends up in the landfill and, as the land required for landfill becomes an increasingly scarce resource, we must find an alternative solution. Each year in the UK alone, 70–105 million tonnes of waste is created from demolishing buildings, and only 20% of that is biodegradable according to a study by Cardiff University. With clever design and a better awareness of the biodegradable materials available in construction, it’s up to us as architects to make the right decisions for the entirety of a building’s lifetime.
Travel seven hours by car in a Southwest direction from Shanghai and you will arrive in Songyang County. The name is unfamiliar to many Chinese people, and even more foreign to those living abroad. The county consists of about 400 villages, from Shicang to Damushan.
Here, undulating lush green terraces hug the sides of Songyin river valley, itself the one serpentine movement uniting the lands. Follow the river and you will see: here, a Brown Sugar Factory; there, a Bamboo Theatre; and on the other side, a stone Hakka Museum built recently but laid by methods so old, even the town masons had to learn these ways for the first time, as if they were modern methods, as if they were revolutionary.
And maybe they are. Songyang County, otherwise known as the “Last Hidden Land in Jiangnan,” may look like a traditional Chinese painting with craggy rock faces, rice fields and tea plantations, but it has also become a model example of rural renaissance. Beijing architect Xu Tiantian, of the firm DnA_Design and Architecture, has spent years surveying the villages of Songyang, talking to local County officials and residents, and coming up with what she calls “architectural acupunctures.”
ODA New York has released images of its proposed “Dragon Gate” pavilion for New York’s Chinatown, seeking to act as a symbolic gateway to the famous Manhattan neighborhood. Using modern materials and forms to invoke symbols of traditional Chinese culture, the scheme seeks to capture Chinatown’s remarkable duality: a community of tradition resistant to change, yet one regarded as a uniquely contemporary phenomenon showcasing New York’s inclusive diversity.
Situated on a triangular traffic island at the intersection of Canal, Baxter, and Walker Streets, ODA’s scheme seeks to activate a currently-underused pedestrian space. The Dragon Gate consists of a triangular form adhering to a three-dimensional, gridded structure formed from interwoven, tubular, bronze steel inspired by bamboo scaffolding. As the structure densifies, selected pieces will be painted red to create the illusion of a dragon in mid-flight.
The use of bamboo in construction is not yet widespread. This is the reason why Eleena Jamil proposes the use of this sustainable material in different configurations, resulting in a resistant, light and permeable structure.
The project, an urban pavilion in Malaysia built mainly with circular bamboo rings, explores the different possibilities of the linear material with a variety of measurements and links of joinery and strings.
After years of publishing projects and articles related to bamboo, we are strongly aware of its qualities as a construction material. But is it really an option that you would use into your next project? Despite widespread appreciation, bamboo seems to be a material that is rarely considered for use in everyday designs.
The team of Manasaram Architects and CGBMT asked themselves the same question. Together they are seeking to understand the current perceptions of bamboo and to discover its potential as a commonly-used material in the construction sector. To help in this pursuit, they have shared a survey with us which seeks to evaluate how often architects and building professionals use bamboo, the problems they face, and how informed they are about the material.
We would like to invite our readers to spare 10 minutes of their time to help us expand knowledge about the use of bamboo using the survey below. The results will be shared on ArchDaily once the study is complete.
The social design from Natura Futura Arquitectura for a greenhouse in the warm subtropical climate of Nayón, Ecuador, the proposal approaches the use of local material resources in the construction of low-budget productive structures for the development of the collective.
The project, materialized with bamboo, wood and greenhouse plastic, is based on the basic geometrical figure of the triangle, proposing sectors with different levels of illumination for different types of farming.
As a construction material, bamboo is resistant, versatile, grows rapidly and is immensely friendly with its own ecosystem and its agroforestry environment. In addition, it presents a large number of species that deliver different diameters and heights. But are there also variations in its color?
We are truly impressed with the work of architects, builders, and artisans who use 'blond bamboo,' which moves between yellow and brown tones. These species are abundant and easy to harvest, and therefore are more common and accessible. However, there are a number of species that have a darker coloration and could revolutionize bamboo architecture in the future. Here we present black bamboo.
"Bamboo is close to an ideal structural material." This statement by Neil Thomas during his talk at Bamboo U, which took place in November 2017 in Bali, really caught my attention. Neil is the founding director of atelier one, a London office of structural engineering, whose outstanding projects include stage and scenography for the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and U2; art installations by Anish Kapoor and Marc Quinn; the Gardens by the Bay, in Singapore, among many others. From the last few years, the engineer has exhaustively studied about bamboo, its structural properties and its most diverse potential.
The Academy Bezalel students' bamboo project, in Jerusalem, is a proposal that approaches the construction in real scale and the experimentation with materials as an important driving force of architectural design.
The project, a suspended bamboo pavilion, can be reused with different configurations in different places with its joints made up of ropes and 3D printed pieces.
Located on a forested site near the center of the coastal city of Xiamen, VTN Architects selected their signature material, bamboo, to create a flexible interior space capable of hosting a variety of events.
By recognizing and analyzing the multiple architectural possibilities of bamboo—a construction material mostly native to warm and tropical areas—the following questions arise: How can we take advantage of its qualities and enhance its use in colder climates? Such regions necessarily require a certain level of thermal isolation in walls, floors, and roofs—but for these climates, we can combine bamboo with materials that complement it.
We talked with Penny Livingston-Stark, a designer and professor of permaculture who has worked for 25 years in the field of regenerative design based on non-toxic natural materials, to understand the opportunities offered by combining bamboo with earth.
Earthen construction and bamboo are extremely compatible. They offer different capacities. They compliment each other beautifully. They both require the same conditions, like breathability.