Green Shoots Blog
Design and Build with Bamboo
Imagine mile-long suspension bridges, skyscrapers hundreds of stories tall, and environmentally-sound homes that cost a fraction of today’s prices . . . all made of bamboo. The idea is not as nearly far-fetched as you may think. New discoveries in bamboo design and construction have sparked serious interest in the Western World, thrusting this simple plant into the architectural spotlight.
Bamboo Ideas for your Home or Business
|Standing on Solid Ground
Cali Bamboo flooring is the choice for architects, builders, and homeowners. Bring the beauty, strength, and durability of bamboo flooring into your home.
|Rethinking the Fence
Bamboo fencing can be used for more than just outdoor fencing. This versatile product can be used to cover a structure’s exterior as seen here at Gilligan’s restaurant.
|Bamboo Inside and Out
Bamboo fence is also useful inside the home to cover walls as wainscoting for a truly custom look.
Design: Bamboo Innovation Branches Out
In an effort to explore new uses for this remarkable resource, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) began the Bamboo Design Initiative — a research project where furniture design department students were asked to investigate bamboo’s unique properties and potential. The grass’s infinite uses soon exceeded researchers’ expectations, and the project grew to include students of architecture, industrial and interior design, and landscape architecture. “We’re really trying to get this material in the public eye,” noted Professor Bob O’Neal.
Students experimented with various methods of working with bamboo such as crushing, milling, slicing or splitting the bamboo. Students would then cast, carve, laminate, weave, bend or assemble pieces into utilitarian objects — everything from clothing to packaging, folding chairs, table legs and landscape lighting. Their discoveries have helped to show the modern design community that this long overlooked plant holds countless possibilities.
Bamboo Architecture Grows to New Heights
Lighter than steel but five times stronger than concrete, bamboo could be the choice building material for the 21st century.
This grass-timber is breaking into the arena of serious world architecture. Native to every continent except Europe and Antarctica, bamboo is used to build everything from luxury homes and resorts to churches and bridges.
Many who have built with the material call it “vegetable steel,” and are also attracted by its high environmental appeal. “The relationship to weight and resistance is the best in the world. Anything built with steel, I can do in bamboo faster and just as cheaply,” says Colombian architect Simon Velez, one of the most famous promoters of bamboo.
Velez designed and oversaw the construction of the world’s largest bamboo structure to date: The 55,200-square-foot Nomadic Museum in Mexico City which takes up half of the Zocalo, Latin America’s largest plaza.
By using small amounts of bolted mortar at the joints — instead of traditional rope-binding methods — he was able to better manipulate the natural strength and flexibility of the bamboo, to build cathedral-like vaults and 28-foot cantilever roofs capable of supporting 11 tons.
Velez has perfected his technique on hundreds of projects in Colombia, Brazil, India, China, and Germany. He preferred to downplay the eco-friendliness of bamboo, promoting it primarily as an extremely high-tech material. However, as many world resources continue to disappear and populations rise, bamboo’s environmental and social benefits become hard to ignore. Bamboo is now entering the architecture world as the organic steel of the future.