Bamboo is a material of remarkable strength, durability, and versatility. A tall woody grass, bamboo is typically fast-growing — responsibly harvested, it is an excellent regenerative material. Of the 1,600 known species of bamboo grown worldwide, a small number possess the qualities necessary for building construction. Their features generally include a straight culm, flexibility, and a favorable aesthetic.
Bamboo is particularly prevalent in East and Southeast Asia, where it is often utilized as a building material in housing and community buildings. Larger, thicker bamboo is frequently used in construction owing to its load-bearing capacity. Smaller diameter bamboo can be bundled together to create a resilient building component.
Bamboo architecture commonly employs four structural systems: the age-old post-and-beam technique; the hyperbolic paraboloid that marries concave and convex surfaces; the hyperbolic (twisted) towers that demonstrate bamboo’s exceptional strength; and spatial gridshells that are constructed from a lattice of bamboo splits.
The structures featured here demonstrate bamboo’s construction capability across a range of architectural projects.
H&P Architects designed the Floating Bamboo House as a housing model for people in Vietnam whose livelihoods are water-based, especially those living in the country’s Mekong Delta (described by Lonely Planet as the “‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam”). The Floating Bamboo House is constructed using solid cored bamboo, joined together with latches and ties. Its large roof collects rainwater and harnesses solar energy. A plastic drum system enables the house to float.
Specializing in the design of biophilic architecture, Atelier Nomadic created a series of bamboo tree houses as part of an environmentally-conscious resort in Mexico. The designs are inspired by the flat, diamond-shaped bodies of mobula rays that migrate past the resort. The treehouses were developed using bioclimatic design principles and built from several species of local bamboo.
On the island of Lombok in Indonesia, volunteers from engineering and design consultancy Ramboll and University College London, worked alongside Grenzeloos Milieu, a local NGO, to construct safe and sustainable bamboo houses. The houses were built in the wake of multiple earthquakes that devastated the region in 2018. The volunteers built three template houses from locally sourced bamboo. Working with local construction teams, they helped builders to adapt the designs and encouraged people to consider bamboo as a practical, low-cost, and safe building material.
Grand World Phu Quoc is a huge entertainment and shopping complex on Phu Quoc, Vietnam’s largest island. Its welcome center is an incredible bamboo structure that embodies Vietnamese culture. Designed by VTN Architects (Vo Trong Nghia Architects), the 1,460-square-meter (15,715-square-feet) welcome center was constructed using around 42,000 bamboo culms without any chemical treatment. The design of this pure bamboo structure combines arches, domes, and grid systems — rope and bamboo pins were used to connect the culms together.
5. “Housing Now”
“Housing Now” is a response to the urgent need for suitable emergency housing in Myanmar, where more than 1.8 million people are currently displaced. Demand for housing is high, yet supply is low. Myanmar-based architectural design studio Blue Temple is developing the large-scale production of prefabricated, low-cost bamboo housing units, inspired by vernacular architecture. Read more about “Housing Now” on Archello.
Designed by by Realrich Architecture Workshop (RAW Architecture), Piyandeling is a project that comprises three buildings constructed using a mix of traditional bamboo joinery and glued bamboo joinery. Located in a remote area of Mekarwangi Village in West Java, Piyandeling includes “Kujang” (pictured), a floating two-story open-air hall and meeting space built using 4–5 meter grids of bamboo. A West Javan vernacular building, Kujang’s design incorporates a bent bamboo balustrade that “creates a silhouette of the natural movement of birds,” says the architect.
Chiangmai Life Architects designed this Bamboo Sports Hall for Panyaden International School in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Based on a lotus flower, the sports hall’s exposed bamboo structure is a fine example of craftsmanship in this natural material. The structural design utilizes prefabricated bamboo trusses without any need for steel reinforcements, thus demonstrating the strength and capability of bamboo as a contemporary building material.
PANAAR is a cultural project located in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. Designed by Vin Varavarn Architects, the project includes a two-story activity center with an undulating rooftop made from locally grown bamboo. The roof’s design helps to collect and drain rainwater into small canals that surround the building; they in turn redirect this water to feed other areas of the land.
Macha is a weekend retreat on the outskirts of Kolkata in eastern India. Designed by Abin Design Studio, the elevated dwelling was built using a “delicate weave” of local bamboo. The studio kept metal elements to a minimum.
Ibuku Bamboo Architecture and Design created a truly impressive piece of bamboo architecture for Green School in Bali, Indonesia. “The Arc” is constructed from a series of 14-meter-tall (46-feet-tall) bamboo arches that span 19 meters (62 feet), linked by “anticlastic” gridshells (made of bamboo shingles). Read about the bamboo structure of the Arc at Green School on Archello.