In recent years, the topic of the environment has been protection continues. How to obtain recycle and eco-friendly materials has become a widely discussed question. As one of the materials for sustainable development, bamboo has a wide range of applications. Therefore many designs have been starting to use bamboo as architecture materials.
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Through of investigate can find out Asian uses bamboo for building material longer than western countries, where you can easily find ancient buildings built with bamboo. With the development of architectural design, many architects are not satisfied with frequent use of cement, steel pipes and other materials, they began to try to use special sustainable development materials for bold transformation, bamboo is one of the options to give full play to the material beauty of bamboo, some architectural designers regard bamboo as building materials directly, to integrate it harmoniously with the natural landscape. For example, in the era when steel scaffolding is widely used to build buildings, Hong Kong uses bamboo as scaffolding (see fig.1.). Japanese architect Kengo Kuma combines bamboo as the main material with modern houses. Vietnamese architect Vo Trong nghia says bamboo is the green steel and iron in the 21st century, which will replace other materials in buildings. “I think bamboo and laminated bamboo will replace other materials and become the 'green steel' of the 21st century," said Nghia. "I hope many architects realize the potential of the material and build with bamboo more and more.”(Fairs,2019) In the design, he flexibly uses the flexible characteristics of bamboo to support the whole building, so that the building does not need the support of steel structure to remain stable. In their works, it is not difficult to find that bamboo has become an important part of the design, realizing the combination of traditional and modern.
Fig. 1 Hong Kong’s Bamboo Scaffolding
Because of the natural color, shape and texture of bamboo, the bamboo architecture gives people the psychological feeling of returning to nature, and it is easy to coordinate with environmental elements, which plays an important role in architecture and interior decoration. This makes the green sustainable development of environmental protection materials to replace the existing building materials become the trend of the construction industry.
Why can bamboo become a sustainable development material? In energy globalization, the sustainable development of the economy and environment has become an urgent problem in the current development field. Especially in developing countries, the shortage of wood and other traditional building materials the corresponding price rise make the importance of bamboo as building materials increasingly concerned by people. Moreover, the characteristics of bamboo are in line with all indicators of sustainable development. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world, which can be used as a material in only two to three years, while wood needs at least 25 years. At the same time, environment-friendly bamboo can absorb carbon dioxide and filter the air. Because of its lightweight, good elasticity and not easy to damage, the anti-seismic function is very prominent, which is one of the materials very suitable for building.
In the world, there are about 100 to 1200 kinds of bamboos. In recent years Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands and the UK have introduced more than 100 kinds of bamboos from Asia, Africa and Latin America,
“China, India and Japan are the best countries for bamboo production and bamboo resource development. In European, there is no natural distribution of bamboo species, and the remaining continents are natural distribution, but Britain, France, Germany, Holland and other countries in Europe started the introduction and cultivation of bamboo and grow well.”(Bamboo industry, 2020) For the species such as Moso bamboo (see fig. 2.) and red bamboo (see fig. 3.), for those kinds of bamboo they are widely used for garden greening building contracture. Among their rigid bamboo, bitter bamboo and red bamboo introduced from China and Japan are mainly characterized by cold resistance and suitable for Western climate growth. As one of the important resources in the forest, bamboo has a wide range of economic value. With the improvement of the technical level, the single way of bamboo utilization in the construction industry is also developing towards the direction of complexity, high performance and compounding. How to make full use of the advantages of bamboo in architecture is become one of the issues we want to explore.
Fig.2 Moso bamboo Fig.3. Red bamboo
Compared with common building materials, bamboo not only has the advantages of fast growth and low cost but also can be durable and occupy less space. However, common building materials, such as wood, cement, steel plate, have higher use cost, and some material may have problems. Therefore, using bamboo in building materials can save costs and ensure quality and the stability of the materials. “Due to its favorable mechanical characteristics, great flexibility, rapid growth, low weight and low cost, bamboo is a constructed from bamboo.”(Minke, G., Henderson, J. and Lorente y Fernández, D: 2012: 12) The advantage of bamboo in building material is it can be designed and constructed flexibly. When bamboo buildings have some place is damaged, they can be repaired and protected by updating the damaged parts. However, some ordinary buildings are trouble to be repaired, which can be repaired in time only after a period of time and process.
In the process of continuously improving the level of science and technology, The International Organization for Standardization (IOS) has formulated the standards for the use of bamboo poles. As far as the mechanical properties of bamboo poles are concerned, it has become the first step for bamboo poles to be used as building materials. With advanced technology, bamboo buildings can be combined with advanced technology to improve their quality and value and make better use of them. This regulation was set up in 2004. Before that, the use of bamboo in buildings was difficult to follow the regulations. “The International Organization for Standardization, known as ISO has drawn up its own standard for determining the mechanical properties of bamboo in 2004. This is a first and very important step to get bamboo poles approved as a building material worldwide.”(Bamboo import, 2020) The strength and use of bamboo itself were related to age and source. If can't unify the age and source of bamboo, which means that when we use bamboo as construction, we may easily damage the whole building due to the inconsistent stability of bamboo, which makes it more difficult to use bamboo into the building. The formation of bamboo contains many different substances. The addition of substances makes bamboo have unique properties. It belongs to natural porous materials but has the same mechanical characteristics as trees. At the same time, the mechanical characteristics, flexibility, hardness and compressive strength of the bamboo can be obtained by measuring the bamboo pole score, age, water content and source. During the test, the durability, fire safety, environmental impact and user safety of the tested bamboo are also included. “Building code standards require more than the strength properties of a material alone, other properties to consider are:usability, Fire Safety, Environmental Impact, User Safety, Energy Efficiency. ”(Bamboo import, 2020)
In the below the table shows the four kinds of bamboos tested they all from Malaysia. In the test (See Fig.4.) the stems of bamboos were use to tested mechanically. From the results, it can be seen that the compression and tensile capacity of bamboos is very strong, which many materials can not achieve.
Fig.4. Compressive strength and moisture content of bamboo
Before using bamboo, in addition to testing whether it meets the standard requirements of materials, it also needs to carry out it is own processing to ensure that it is easy to store and nonperishable. Because bamboo belongs to the plant with more water content, it is easy to grow bacteria and mildew, and also bamboo contains a lot of starch that is easy to attract insects. “Bamboo contains a large quality of starch, which attracts insects, especially when the level of sap is high. Also the presence of humidity can cause the appearance of fungus and lichens. ”(Minke, G., Henderson, J. and Lorente y Fernández, D: 2012: 17) If it is not stored well after being cut down, this will makes bamboo perishable. In the process, bamboo will be cut, dry and clean, it need to preserved in a dry environment. However, if placed in a dry place for a long time, it will also crack, deform, and lose luster because dry. So the best preservation environment should be: the temperature of 20 ℃ or so, the relative humidity of the air is about 60%.
The first step to deal with bamboo is cutting. Cutting is mainly to cut the stem of bamboo. It is located at the first or second node at the bottom of bamboo. The relative humidity in this area is relatively low, which does not affect the preservation. When cutting, it needs to be inclined to avoid the infiltration of water droplets.
“Cutting bamboo is done with a machete or saw directly above the first or second aboveground node, keeping in mind that the cut should be inclined, to avoid the penetration of rain into the rhizome. ” (Minke, G., Henderson, J. and Lorente y Fernández, D: 2012: 17)
When the first step is finished, the second step is to dry. There are many ways can help to dry bamboo. The simplest way is to store the bamboo directly in the warehouse. The way to avoid contact between the sun and water also requires that the bamboo should not touch the ground; it must be put up and selected in the air. At the same time, make sure that the warehouse is well ventilated. In this process, the bamboo will naturally disperse water, but the time will be relatively long, which usually takes 3 weeks. “Treated bamboo should be stored horizontally in a warehouse or a place protected from water and solar heat directly.Storage or warehouse must have good ventilation and air circulation to avoid excess moisture that can cause mold on bamboo.”(Sahabatbambu, 2020) If the bamboo is particularly wet, it should be stored vertically for 3 days to remove the surface moisture, and then repeat the process before. Finally, in the bamboo anti-cracking treatment, the bamboo surface can be painted with varnish once the function is to isolate the external environment to achieve the purpose of anti-cracking. The processed bamboo can be used in the building and ensure the quality will not be a problem.
In recent years, the design of bamboo has been constantly emerging. Mostly used in roofs, walls, and garden decoration or as the main structure to build the whole house. When using bamboo as the main material designers should consider how to joint bamboo. Bamboo belongs to hollow plants, so it can not be spliced with a simple nail-like general wood. If driven the nail in stale bamboo, it will easily crack from the middle. “Give that bamboo is hallow, connections in edifices made of material call for a totally different approach than is customary with building in wood.”(Vegesack, A., Kries, M., Dethier, J. and Bachmann, U: 2000: 109) So when using bamboo as building materials, we must consider the connection problem, but the good thing is that there are many ways to combine bamboo from the past to the present. Bamboo was called the poor material in the past because it is easy to obtain, so ordinary families in Asia will use bamboo to build houses, they can simply bind bamboo together with ropes (See Fig 5), general use fiber rope there are many kinds of binding methods. Generally, used to wrap around the periphery with rope (See Fig.6) or drill several holes in the bamboo through the winding. “Bamboo ropes of twisted bamboo fibers are produced in the lengths up to 350m. They are more wear-resistant than stander ropes.”(Slideshare, 2020)
Fig 5. Bamboo blending Fig 6.roping bamboo
With the way of continuous improvement, many architects have designed unique bamboo connectors. Shoei Yoh a Japanese architect he had designed a special way of connecting it call interlocking connections. This way is to glue the exterior of the bamboo with wood chips first, and then use a steam slot to extract the inside part of bamboo, which can prevent the bamboo from cracking, keep the shell, and then weld the metal connection with the inside of the bamboo to become a one that can connect multiple bamboo's Connector. This design enables many large bamboo buildings, create a flexibly and stably shape and it can be spliced together and also can be easily split into several parts. (Krawczuk, K. 2013)
Fig.7 woodcore connection system Fig.8 Space truss, with center steel box element Fig.9 Bamboo connection in metal
Zeri paviion is a bamboo Pavilion (See Fig. 10) designed by Simon V é lez and Marcelo Villegas, with an overall area of about 2000 square meters. Its unique shape is only made of bamboo, which is tied together by six bamboos to form columns and fixed with clamps. The gravity is enough to support the roof. The bamboo forms a polygon around the roof. The overall structure of the building extends from the outside to the inside and reaches the roof. The middle part is hollow (See Fig. 11). A total of 4500 bamboos were used in the pavilion. The longest bamboo in the building is about 7.5m from the ground to the top. The base of the hemispherical body is fixed with cement and connected with the ball by welding (See Fig. 12), which makes the bottom of the bamboo can be combined with the connection to prevent the bottom of the bamboo from touching the ground, “These columns rest on steel ball and socket joints, anchored to a concrete base that keeps the wood from touching the ground.”(Marcelo, V: 2003:52) which is easy to be damaged due to the low humidity of the ground. At the same time, when the bamboo bottom is connected with the base, the side of the bamboo will be fixed with nuts. The pavilion was built for the World Expo in Hanover in 2000. In order to meet the architectural requirements at that time - zero emission, repeated experiments were carried out before the construction was officially started. At last, 41 workers built the pavilion within three months. Finally, a public place was built to accommodate multiple visitors and rest. On the other hand, bamboo has the function of automatic heat dissipation. Even in summer, you sit in there still can feel cool, and doesn't need to use another electrical appliance to drive away from the heat.
Fig 10. Manizales – Colombia 2020 Fig 11. Roof Fig 12. The base of bamboo connection
In addition to how to design the structure of the building, we should also consider how to combine with nature, bamboo is undoubtedly one of the most natural materials. For Japanese architect Kengo Kuma in his project, you can see that he combines classical with contemporary for his work, and uses bamboo to build the modern building with more gentle overall details. “The Bamboo canes articulate the space, forming the ‘skin’ of building: ‘the skin and the surface are two different things and without a skin the soul never appears. And bamboo has a soul that dwells inside it’”(Spita, L. :2006:120)
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Bamboo Lounge is one of the buildings that he designed with bamboo (See Fig.13), for this project the located is in China, which is one of the countries rich in bamboo. On account of bamboo is a renewable resource, it can grow rapidly and has little impact on the local environment. At the same time, near the building there is a bamboo forest that can easy to obtain materials. Connect to the environment and culture the use of bamboo in design has significance. In the overall design, the exterior wall and the interior are mainly made of bamboo compared with the general wall, the bamboo placed vertically and sparsely is easy to ventilate, even you in the room still can feel the breeze passing through space. The house is covered with glass that makes the whole house more open-minded and can protect the bamboo from damage due to external environmental factors. When sunlight shines into the room through the glass and through the light in the bamboo seam, it can keep warm in winter. Besides the building is located near the great wall is on the mountain, when in summer the environment is extremely hot. The addition of bamboo makes the indoor temperature balanced and comfortable. For the interior (See Fig.14) there are kitchens, leisure areas, teahouses, and different size rooms. The walls of corridors and aisles are all designed with bamboo, which makes the indoor feel more natural and the vision more comfortable.
Fig 13. Bamboo structure Fig 14. The plan of Bamboo Lounge
Bamboo as a kind of sustainable development material, it has many advantages, such as fast growth, easy to obtain, low cost, environment-friendly, can absorption of carbon dioxide and no harm to the human body. The technical requirements of the bamboo buildings are not high most bamboo houses are built on the basis of the local technical level without high-tech guidance. The multi-function of bamboo provides rich technical options for economic and even high-grade buildings. Moreover, bamboo buildings are easy to be used in combination with advanced technologies. As a whole, compared with other sustainable materials, bamboo is more flexible for use because of its low cost, safety and easy construction; bamboo buildings are particularly suitable for the use of buildings in poor areas. In the future, the use and development of bamboo will have a huge impact.
List of illustration
Fig 1. A Visual Appreciation of Hong Kong’s Bamboo Scaffolding. (2012). [image] Available at: www.atlasobscura.com [Accessed 8 Dec. 2019].
Fig 2. Moso Bamboo Seed. (2020). [image] Available at:
https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Mao-Zhu-Bamboo-Seeds-High-Germination_60735862216.html [Accessed 1 Jan. 2020].
Fig 3. Anon, (2020). [image] Available at:
https://www.gardeningexpress.co.uk/pack-of-three-plants-fargesia-asian-wonder-clumping-umbrella-bamboo [Accessed 1 Jan. 2020].
Fig 4. Anon, (2020). [image] Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Compressive-strength-and-moisture-content-of-bamboo_tbl1_322269901 [Accessed 2 Jan. 2020].
Fig 5.Vegesack, A., Kries, M., Dethier, J. and Bachmann, U. (2000). Grow your own house. Weil am Rhein: Vitra Design Museum, p.111.
Fig 6.Vegesack, A., Kries, M., Dethier, J. and Bachmann, U. (2000). Grow your own house. Weil am Rhein: Vitra Design Museum, p.118.
Fig 7.Bambus.arch.rwth-aachen.de. (2020). Interlocking Connections. [online] Available at: https://bambus.arch.rwth-aachen.de/eng/reports/connect/interloc/interlocking.htm [Accessed 4 Jan. 2020].
Fig 8.Bambus.arch.rwth-aachen.de. (2020). Interlocking Connections. [online] Available at: https://bambus.arch.rwth-aachen.de/eng/reports/connect/interloc/interlocking.htm [Accessed 4 Jan. 2020].
Fig 9. Vegesack, A., Kries, M., Dethier, J. and Bachmann, U. (2000). Grow your own house. Weil am Rhein: Vitra Design Museum, p.108.
Fig 10.Pinterest. (2020). Pabellon Zeri, estructura en Guadua (Bambú), material de construcción típíco de la región. Manizales - Colombia | Bamboo architecture, Round house, Architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/448671181599125763/?lp=true [Accessed 5 Jan. 2020].
Fig 11.Pinterest.co.uk. (2020). Pabellon Zeri, Ecoarquitectura en guadua - Manizales, Colombia | Bamboo architecture, Bamboo, Architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/amp/pin/391742867564743064/ [Accessed 5 Jan. 2020].
Fig 12.Marcelo, V. (2003). New bamboo : architecture and design. 1st ed. Colombia: Villegas, Marcelo, p.54.
Fig 13.Google.com. (2020). bamboo lounge kengo kuma - Google Search. [online] Available at: https://www.google.com/search?q=bamboo+lounge+kengo+kuma&sxsrf=ACYBGNSYyRAS86oj_XpCYL_4LZCePh5jVg:1578196451780&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwifpJP3x-vmAhVUPcAKHT8iAGsQ_AUoAXoECAwQAw&biw=1360&bih=537#imgrc=6ZJCPfSj8oishM: [Accessed 5 Jan. 2020].
Fig 14. The Architectural Apprenticeship. (2020). 1b: Analysis. [online] Available at: https://kumabytannerdab310.wordpress.com/part-1b-analysis/ [Accessed 5 Jan. 2020].
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- Spita, L. (2006). Kengo Kuma. Roma: Edilstampa. P110
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