The first seminar of INBAR’s new series looked at bamboo poles’ construction potential.
On Tuesday, INBAR’s new webinar series, ‘Bamboo: A Very Sustainable Construction Material’, began, with a session focused on the architectural uses of bamboo poles.
The series, which covers five sessions over the course of one month, aims to build greater awareness about bamboo’s potential to alleviate the world’s acute housing crisis, as a low-cost form of construction and as part of the development of zero-emission, ‘green’ cities. The series is co-organised by INBAR and China South Agriculture University, and supported by a number of partner organisations around the world, as well as members of INBAR’s Bamboo Construction Task Force. Speaking in the introduction, David Trujillo, a senior lecturer at Coventry University and Chair of the Task Force, said that “The choice of name for this seminar is intended to highlight that bamboo is a truly sustainable construction material in the broad sense of the word. Personally, I believe that no other construction material can match its combination of environmental services, rapid growth and strength.” INBAR Director General Mr. Ali Mchumo, and Professor Liu Aihua from South China Agriculture University, also delivered opening remarks to welcome this timely series,
In the first session, a number of experts explored the potential of bamboo poles for construction. While engineered bamboo lumber and paneling are relatively new materials, bamboo poles have been used for thousands of years in the construction of houses, bridges, scaffolding and more. This session included a number of architects who are trying to elevate the status of this traditional ‘poor man’s timber’, into an elegant and eco-friendly material for widespread use.
Song Yehao, Professor of Architecture at Tsinghua University and co-founder of SUP Atelier, introduced several case studies of sustainable bamboo architecture designs in China, including the Village Lounge of Shangcun – a public space constructed with bamboo on an abandoned patch of land, which involved a large number of locals in its construction.
Mauricio Cardenas Laverde, the architect behind INBAR’s Bamboo Eye Pavilion at the International Horticultural Exposition 2019, Beijing, China, introduced the philosophy of Conscious Design, which looks to the natural world for clues as to how to incorporate natural light, heat ventilation and greenery into built spaces. This is a philosophy which Cardenas has put into practice around the world, through his Studio Cardenas Conscious Design: from the small VANKE Shitang at the 2015 Milan Expo, to the ‘Energy-Efficient Experimental House’ in Baoxi, China, completed in 2017, and the Bamboo Eye Pavilion in Beijing last year.
Bamboo construction is by no means a purely Chinese phenomenon. Christian Salandanan, the Principal Architect at Sangay Architects, talked about traditional bamboo construction in the Philippines, which uses three main types of bamboo – ‘Kawayan Tinki’, giant bamboo, and ‘botong’ – to make a range of structures. As with the other speakers, Salandanan also introduced the process for buiding a bamboo house, from designing the space to sourcing the bamboos.
Overall, all experts were keen to highlight bamboo’s importance as a low-carbon and sustainable material with huge construction potential. The speakers also emphasized that good design and implementation were critical to elevating the status of bamboo architecture, which is still traditionally seen as ‘poor man’s timber’, into an aspirational and viable sector around the world.
Overall, more than 1000 participants from over 60 countries registered for INBAR’s bamboo construction seminar series, and more than 300 participants attended the first session. The series is registration-only, but the final recordings are available to watch on INBAR’s YouTube channel.
INBAR’s online webinar series have been running throughout 2020. Find out more about the sessions here.