by Anmol AhujaAug 17, 2021
World over, particularly in countries like China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Colombia, architects are experimenting with a material that possesses not only extreme versatility in terms of its structural strength but also for its aesthetic and environmental value. Vo Trong Nghia, Marina Tabassum, Anna Heringer, Realrich Sjarief, Vinu Daniel, and Simón Vélez are some of the contemporary practitioners who are building an incredibly innovative and inspirational body of work using bamboo as a key architectural material. Elsewhere, the biomaterial's flexibility (a higher compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete, and a tensile strength on par with steel), lightness, affordability, and the ability to speedily renew itself, combined with its quality to evoke nostalgia, have found key inspiration in countless projects built this year. Ranging from residences, housing complexes, to hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, landscape design and urban pavilions, the list which includes much more is all encompassing. While one could say that it would probably take decades for bamboo to entirely replace conventional building materials, the use of bamboo architecture to define spaces of transience, of congregation, and their contribution in turn to urban edifices is undeniable.
As we close 2021 today, STIR looks back at five projects that demonstrated intriguing applications of this woody grass in the areas of architecture, interior design, and temporary urban spaces.
1. The Arc by IBUKU
Location: Bali, Indonesia
The Arc is a community wellness space and a gymnasium inside The Green School in Bali - a name synonymous with hands-on education in sustainable design practices, especially in the realm of bamboo architecture. The shaded pavilion-like structure features a porous and flexible spatial layout spread over 760 square metres of relatively open space, typical of other bamboo structures in the school complex. Swooping, sinuous arches headline the intervention, spanning a total of 19 meters. At its highest point, the pointed bamboo arches intersect to form anticlastic grid-shells that are then repeated in a planar manner to form the bamboo pavilion's elaborate roof, a feat of resourceful engineering fused with a solution lying at the intersection of parametricism and high-tension roof systems.
2. Piyandeling by RAW Architecture
Location: Mekarwangi Village, West Java – Bandung, Indonesia
Realrich Architecture Workshop has attempted to create a sanctuary space using bamboo and local craftsmanship with the Piyandeling project. Located in a remote area of Mekarwangi village in Bandung, the project builds on the “tectonic grammar” that the firm, headed by Realrich Sjarief, and its elaborate work is known for. Consisting of three structures: a private family home named ‘Sumarah’, an open hall space for learning named ‘Kujang’, and a studio and future dental centre called ‘Saderhana’, the architecture reveals extraordinary ornamental aesthetics crafted in bamboo.
3. Bamboo Bamboo, Canopy and Pavilions by IILab.
Location: Yangshuo County, China
Amidst soaring tower karsts of rock and lush vegetation in the tourist friendly area of Yangshuo County near the Chinese city of Guilin, Shanghai-based studio IILab. has designed a charming formal point of interaction and gathering for viewers coming to see the nightly light show, Impression Sanjie Liu. As a consequence of the dense growth of bamboo within the area, there were naturally-occurring clustered and tangled structures which lent themselves well to the needs of the project. As per IILab., “To coincide with what is already there, the new architecture looked at borrowing the materiality of the bamboo, reconfiguring it to form new space. In doing so, this new space means not to contest. Instead it aims to augment, albeit very gently, the surrounding bamboo groves and hills.”
4. Mumbai Artist Retreat by Architecture Brio
Location: Mumbai, India
This compact artists’ retreat sits across the Mumbai Bay in India, evoking the charm of its coastal location. Humble volumes made of steel and bamboo sit nestled within a low-lying palm plantation near a beach, raised on stilts to combat the low soil bearing capacity and the occasional flooding that the site receives. The heart of the retreat, i.e its workshop features a pyramid-like form where a zig-zag arrangement of bamboo rafters support the roof. As per Architecture Brio, "the material palette, with its restrained elegance and muted tones, makes for a serene surface against the striking greens of the site."
5. Flower Field Bamboo Pavilion by Atelier cnS
Location: Shunde District, Foshan City, Guangzhou, China
Guangzhou-based Atelier cnS has added three new structures to the Xianmo Flower Field Landscape Park with a vision to catalyse public interactions in an urban environment. Serving as a micro-renovation, lending new life to the urban park, the design seeks inspiration from the very material constituting the composition of the structures. The definition of the design of the three pavilions, in particular, is derivative of the excellent tensile and bending properties of bamboo itself, and the material’s property of singularly being capable of operating in all three dimensions.