The Arc by IBUKU at Green School, Bali, is held by swathes of bamboo arches

Building on their own unique design vocabulary, the Indonesia-based green design practice imparts lightweight structural brilliance to their newest addition at Green School, Bali.

by Anmol AhujaPublished on : Aug 17, 2021

The Green School in Bali, a name synonymous with hands-on education in sustainable design practices, especially in the realm of bamboo architecture the world over, is an exemplar, a monument unto itself. The elegant bamboo structures adorning its grounds proudly parade the design philosophy the school professes and practices. Building on its 12-year legacy of nurturing holistic, innovative, and purpose-driven green architecture using bamboo, probably the “greenest” construction material there is by convention, the school’s wall-less community has a new addition: one that is a structural and aesthetic triumph, and a stride in sustainable architecture the school champions. Designed as a community wellness space and a gymnasium, the Arc stands tall as a showcase of the practice’s and school’s prowess over lightweight structures, and the complex spanning and joining mechanisms associated with them. With the aptly named Arc, IBUKU and the Green School aspire to raise the bar for sustainable education around the world.

  • Akin to the other structures at the Green School, The Arc exudes lightweight structural brilliance along with vernacular construction methods | The Arc at Green School | IBUKU | STIRworld
    Akin to the other structures at the Green School, The Arc exudes lightweight structural brilliance along with vernacular construction methods Image: Sasha de Laage
  • The structure comprises of a series of pointed 14m high bamboo arches forming planar anticlastic grid-shells | The Arc at Green School | IBUKU | STIRworld
    The structure comprises of a series of pointed 14m high bamboo arches forming planar anticlastic grid-shells Image: Tommaso Riva
  • The shell-grid is repeated across the length of the pavilion to form a high-tension roof system | The Arc at Green School | IBUKU | STIRworld
    The shell-grid is repeated across the length of the pavilion to form a high-tension roof system Image: Tommaso Riva
  • The pointed arches covered by the membranous bamboo sheath appear as pleated drapes | The Arc at Green School | IBUKU | STIRworld
    The pointed arches covered by the membranous bamboo sheath appear as pleated drapes Image: Tommaso Riva

The shaded pavilion-like structure features a porous and flexible spatial layout spread over 760 square meters. 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 ‘arcs’ of the structure, the pointed bamboo arches subsuming the form of pleated drapery almost, measure 14 meters in height. The 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. The grid-shells derive their strength from the arches curving in two different directions, using the stiffness of the resulting shape to provide buckling resistance to the parabolic enclosure. Under stress, the seamlessly integrated system helps in the redistribution of weight, localising them to the arches.

  • Akin to the ribcage held in place by skin and muscle under tension, the arches in the structure are held in place by the tensioned anticlastic grid-shells | The Arc at Green School | IBUKU | STIRworld
    Akin to the ribcage held in place by skin and muscle under tension, the arches in the structure are held in place by the tensioned anticlastic grid-shells Image: Tommaso Riva
  • The intricate bamboo assembly holding the roof structure | The Arc at Green School | IBUKU | STIRworld
    The intricate bamboo assembly holding the roof structure Image: Tommaso Riva
  • The interstices formed at the seams where the grids overlap filter light into the structure | The Arc at Green School | IBUKU | STIRworld
    The interstices formed at the seams where the grids overlap filter light into the structure Image: Tommaso Riva

Apart from IBUKU, the project required close collaboration with multiple stakeholders, including Atelier One for structural design, and Jörg Stamm for conceptual design, sharing the same vision for bringing the structure’s tailor-made details to life with sensitivity. Following months of research, development, and fine-tuning, the structure was erected in nearly eight months, another testament to the speedy and efficient construction that bamboo enables as a near completely renewable material.

  • The Arc has a pavilion like open layout providing for a flexible functionality | The Arc at Green School | IBUKU | STIRworld
    The Arc has a pavilion like open layout providing for a flexible functionality Image: Tommaso Riva
  • The integrated roof system helps in the redistribution of weight, localising load to the arches, and in turn to their curvilinear termination in the ground | IBUKU | STIRworld
    The integrated roof system helps in the redistribution of weight, localising load to the arches, and in turn to their curvilinear termination in the ground Image: Tommaso Riva
  • The termination is lodged in a concrete base for extra stability | IBUKU | STIRworld
    The termination is lodged in a concrete base for extra stability Image: Tommaso Riva

Applying the seemingly most direct interpretation of biophilia in architecture, from planning ideology to material manifestation, the concept for The Arc is inspired from an essential function in the human body: the ribcage cloistering our lungs in. Akin to the membranous encasement of skin and muscle that remains under tension for the compressed ribcage to hold the lungs, the arches in the structure too work similarly under compression, held in place by the tensioned anticlastic grid-shells. “These fields of grid-shells appear to drape across the spaces between impossibly thin arches soaring overhead, giving a whimsy, an intimacy and a beauty to the space. Although the grid shells appear to hang from the arches, they actually hold them up”, states an official release on the intricacy of the structure and its working. Spatial interstices formed at the seams with the overlapping of the membranous roof allow filtered sunlight in, further enhancing the quality of porosity and a certain degree of transparency in space.

  • The structural and aesthetical details for The Arc were fine-tuned following months of research and development by a team of experts | IBUKU | STIRworld
    The structural and aesthetical details for The Arc were fine-tuned following months of research and development by a team of experts Image: Tommaso Riva
  • Designed as a community wellness space and gymnasium, The Arc bears a soft, experiential quality in the space it encloses | IBUKU | STIRworld
    Designed as a community wellness space and gymnasium, The Arc bears a soft, experiential quality in the space it encloses Image: Tommaso Riva

Jules de Laage, construction manager for The Arc and an on-site architect for the project stated that there was “something quite wonderful about ancestral craftsmanship meeting modern construction techniques”, the fusion of the two being something that both the Green School and IBUKU have championed over the years. On the symbolic meaning of the structure in as rapidly transforming an urban landscape as Indonesia, Elora Hardy, creative director at IBUKU opines that “The Arc at Green School Bali enters a new era for organic architecture”.

  • 01 min watch Video walkthrough of The Arc, Green School | The Arc at Green School | IBUKU | STIRworld
    Video walkthrough of The Arc, Green School Video: Sasha de Laage
  • 01 min watch Timelapse of The Arc’s construction process | The Arc at Green School | IBUKU | STIRworld
    Timelapse of The Arc’s construction process Video: Sasha de Laage

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