For several weeks, INBAR’s webinar series on ‘Bamboo: A Very Sustainable Construction Material’ has focused on the different uses of bamboo in construction.
In session 3, ‘Structural use of bamboo culms (Part 2)’, panelists continued a discussion of the structural uses of bamboo culms, which had begun in the previous week’s panel. Zhuo Xin, Associate Professor of College of Civil Engineering and Architecture at Zhejiang University, provided an overview of lattice structures made with bamboo poles. For Zhuo, one of the benefits of these multi-culm bamboo spatial lattice structures is their lifespan: because of the way in which they are overlaid and held together, it is relatively easy to replace individual poles if needed, prolonging the overall life of the structure. Zhuo has applied this approach in engineering projects displayed in numerous international exhibitions, including the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019, Beijing, China, as well as international exhibitions in Sichuan, Xi’an and Shaanxi provinces.
Luis Felipe Lopez, Head of Technology at Base Bahay Foundation, provided an update on the Base team’s impressive work to create and build typhoon-resilient housing for low-income residents. Lopez talked about the Cement-Bamboo Frame Technology, ‘CBFT’, which has endured even category 5 typhoons. Base Bahay is continuing to do research to improve these structures, and remains busy on the ground: the team has so far built 800 houses during the COVID-19 pandemic alone.
David Trujillo, an Assistant Professor at Coventry University who chairs INBAR’s Construction Task Force, rounded up the discussion of round-pole bamboo construction, by discussing what is needed to make bamboo a more mainstream structural material. To David, a conventional construction material should be “readily available, reliable, well understood and legal to use.” He introduced some of the most important breakthroughs in codes and standards which were enabling bamboo to become a trusted means of construction around the world, and updated participants on the Task Force’s ongoing work with the International Organization for Standardization, to develop international standards for testing and design.
In session 4 (24 November), the focus turned from bamboo pole structures to engineered bamboo. In ‘Architectural use of engineered bamboo’, Hao Lin began by introducing some of the projects created in China by INTEGER Ltd, the architectural firm of which he is CEO. INTEGER’s multi-storey structures are made using bamboo, and a number are already several decades old. Hao’s presentation was followed by Martin Tam, Chairman of the Bamboo Industry Committee in the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, who looked to the future potential for bamboo as a key part of urban greening and a low-carbon, sustainable building material. Tam discussed some of the ways in which bamboo could be integrated into megacities such as Hong Kong.
Hector Archila, Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England and founder of biobased architecture firm Amphibia BASE, presented the business case for engineered bamboo. With its fast growth, high strength properties and ability to create natural, low-carbon products, the real question was: why is bamboo not a more mainstream construction material? Archila looked at a number of issues within the engineered bamboo production process, including inefficient manufacturing and a focus on producing non-structural products, and discussed some ways in which they might be overcome.
INBAR’s construction webinar series will wind up next week, with a look at the architectural applications for engineered bamboo.