Bamboo Gives a New Meaning to Stick Built
With the demand for lumber increasing both domestically and internationally, construction costs are forecasted to rise. A Bali architectural and engineering firm proposes a more cost efficient and sustainable alternative – bamboo.
With residential building permits in April 2015 up 10.1 percent from March and 6.4 percent from the same time last year, it appears the recovery in new single and multifamily construction is continuing in the United States. While this alone puts pressure on lumber prices, the demand from abroad is also sending lumber prices higher as well as the Feds pressure on commercial architects, engineers, and construction companies to use wood instead of steel in high-rise construction due sustainability concerns. Is there another sustainable building material that is more economical than wood?
Bamboo: Sustainable, Economical, and Innovative
Elora Hardy, the creative director of the Balinese architectural design firm Ibuku, has led a team of artisans, engineers, and architects in building more than 50 elaborate curving bamboo homes and buildings. She learned the art and science of using bamboo from her father who built the Green School. She is a major proponent of using bamboo as a sustainable and economical alternative to lumber. Is it possible to replicate her success with bamboo in the United States?
The Facts about Bamboo
Some of the reasons bamboo is a viable alternative to lumber in the United States include:
• Bamboo grows prolifically throughout the middle and southern regions of the US in the UDSA zones seven and eight.
• Many farmers are starting to farm bamboo. Bamboo is ready to harvest in only three years.
• Bamboo is comparable to steel in terms of tensile strength to steel (40,000 PSI) and it has the same compression strength as concrete (2,500 PSI).
• When treated with boron solution, a natural insect and water repellant, bamboo structures can last for a century or more.
• Building constructed with bamboo require very little maintenance.
So how are buildings designed and built using bamboo?
Architectural Design, Engineering, and Construction Using Bamboo
In the video below, Elora Hardy describes the design and construction process when using bamboo. Her team of artisan, engineers, and architects create a 3-D blueprint of the structure in the form of a built to scale model of the house or structure. Whe designing the building, the engineers take into account the flexibility of the bamboo. The build team then take the model to the construction site where they measure each element of the structure to scale the building to its actual size.
What are your thoughts about using bamboo as a building material? What are the pros and cons of possible bamboo construction in the US.?
Elora Hardy: Magical Houses Made of Bamboo