International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation

International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation

New international standard on bamboo structures

17 Jun 2021

The new standard is one of the most important for INBAR Member States. 

In June 2021, the International Organization on Standardization (ISO) published a new standard on structural design with bamboo poles. The standard, which is a significant step forward for bamboo construction around the world, was developed with support from INBAR staff and members of INBAR’s Bamboo Construction Task Force. 

Although bamboo is a common housing material in many parts of the world, until recently there were no international standards to regulate its use and designs.  ISO 22156:2021 builds on previous standards published in 2004, providing more comprehensive guidelines for designers and architects about how to build with round bamboo. Specifically, the standard applies to the design of bamboo structures up to 7 metres high, “whose primary load bearing structure is made of round bamboo or shear panel systems in which the framing members are made from round bamboo”, and specifies their “requirements for mechanical resistance, serviceability and durability”. 

Several aspects make ISO 22156 an important standard:

ISO 22156 is particularly important in the context of low-carbon housing. In recent years, increasing concerns about emissions from the construction sector, particularly the use of materials like cement and steel, has prompted a search for biobased alternatives. In developing countries, bamboo can be a fast-growing substitute for timber – and ISO 22156 provides a solid basis for architects and engineers who want to build with bamboo.

According to David Trujillo, who chairs INBAR’s Bamboo Construction Task Force, “In some parts of the world where there is no significant commercial forestry, we cannot wait 30-50 years for tree forests to be planted and be ready to supply the market. However, bamboo forests take as little as 10 years to be established from scratch, and afterwards will provide a steady and continuous production of stems. Stems are ready to harvest within 3-5 years after emerging from the ground. This speed, as well as its extraordinary strength, offer the prospect of a quick transition to bio-based structures in developing countries. This is where ISO 22156:2021 comes in. This standard provides the solid basis from which to launch this transformation.”

While ISO 22156 lays out guidance for bamboo constructions, it is still a general framework. Trujillo says of the standard: “It should be noted that though ISO 22156 is ready to be used, it has no national jurisdiction. Instead, it really is intended to act as the skeleton of a national design code that needs to be fleshed out in each country to adapt to their bamboo species and requirements.” As a ‘liaison A’ organisation to the International Organization for Standardization, INBAR will help to disseminate the standard across its Member States, encouraging national standards authorities to adopt the guidelines, and sharing them with universities and architecture firms. 

ISO 22156:2021 can be purchased on ISO’s website. 

More information about INBAR’s Bamboo Construction Task Force can be found here.

A more comprehensive report on this new standard will be published in issue 4 of INBAR’s Bamboo and Rattan Update magazineSign up to receive updates.