Tag Archives: architecture

Bamboo on the Internet for April, 2015 (and May)

A very late Bamboo on the Internet, but with some very fine excuses. Really. Some of them may even be translated into posts for this blog.

  • Two more items for a bamboo WTF category: Bamboo water. Yes. Water infused with an extract from bamboo leaves. Variously described with words like, “clean, fresh, bright, energising, sweet…” the creator has chosen to add cane sugar, unfortunately. Learn more here.  The second, and more perplexing bamboo product is Gucci’s Bamboo Fragrance. Presumably named for the bamboo shaped lid, not the top notes of bergamont.
  • furnitureThe bamboo furniture seen at the left is simplicity personified. Follow the link for a gallery of 14 more images.
  • I know how handy bamboo skewers are for fixing/supporting/balancing/holding, even though I’ve never used them as skewers. This model of the Eiffel Tower used over 200 of them.
  • Bamboo fences are very popular in northern NSW, where I was earlier this year, but how about a bamboo fence 11 kilometers long? Its part of a competition to promote the use of bamboo fences in Sabah.
  • Froute PodMore gorgeous, practical, and innovative ideas from Giant Grass, in Melbourne. It may be just the thing if you want to be an airbnb host and don’t have that extra room for guests. The pod is transportable and easy to set up with only 2 people.
  • Bamboo charcoal is now a trendy go-to ingredient for cocktails, according to The Drinks Business.
  • vietnam milan expoThe Vietnam pavilion for the 2015 Milan Expo features a ‘forest’ of bamboo-clad columns. More images and a story at arch daily.
  • Here is a lovely, and short, story about a Buddhist monk in Vietnam who saves rare bamboo species.
  • The Huffington Post recently published a photoblog featuring colourful bamboo and paper umbrellas.
  • pickled bambooSome food items of interest over the last two months include: a bamboo shoot and squid flavored with green leaf-bud miso dish from Asahi Shimbun; a recipe for pickled bamboo from a new book (available from Amazon) reviewed here; and, I was going to include a video called ‘bamboo cooking‘ but it turned out to be only a very poor interview to promote the bamboo water mentioned above. It’s so dreadful, it’s almost worth watching.

Bamboo activism

Going about in Taiwan, like other countries with an abundance of bamboo, it is inspiring to be amongst bamboo creations from the mundane to the extraordinary. This post is about a once-ordinary, now less common bamboo construction being used to promote autonomous rule for the Amis village of Farangaw, Taitung County.

bamboo boat, bamboo raftIn the south of Taiwan, a bamboo boat is under construction employing techniques unused since the Japanese occupation 100 years ago. The traditional techniques are recalled only in oral history by five Amis elders in their 70s and 80s. The maiden voyage of the bamboo vessel will be an inspection to lay claim to the village’s traditional maritime territories, as well as rally support more generally for Aboriginal autonomy in Taiwan.

The Amis are the largest ethnic group among Aboriginal Taiwanese. Traditionally, Amis villages are in close proximity to the sea. As well close ties to the ocean, bamboo features in Amis material and spiritual culture. One Amis spiritual practice is performed by bamboo divinators. The cikawasay (like priests) predict fortunes by standing on the middle of a slim bamboo branch and lifting both ends of it. The fortune is foretold according to the shape of the cracking gap in the bamboo.

bamboo pavilion, Amis autonomy

Considered experts in bamboo construction, local Amis built this pavilion used for an arts festival.

There is something of a resurgence in traditions and cultural identity for Taiwan’s Aboriginal population, though perhaps not bamboo divination. An increasing number of Amis are replacing their Chinese names with Amis names. Aboriginal political and social movements are swelling. Drafts of legislation for Aboriginal autonomy, already drawn out for years, are always strongly criticised by Aboriginal activist groups and academics. But what a behemoth they face in China.

bamboo raft, bamboo boatIn the course of researching this post I came across a boat in Taiwan based on the traditional design of a bamboo raft such as the one pictured above. Instead of using bamboo, huge PVC pipes were incorporated into the design. The pipes were bent the same way as bamboo – with heat. The vessels take only about six days to build. The story and more images here. Perhaps the Farangaw villagers should have considered PVC instead of bamboo: some were accused by local authorities of stealing bamboo to make the raft.

References and further reading:

Bamboo on the Internet for October, 2014 – my picks

  • bamboo camperFrom Zenbox Design: A lightweight bamboo-clad mini camper. Towed by a Mini Minor. With a skylight to see the stars at night. More images at Zenbox. The dog looks happy.
  • Bamboo yarn got a mention here recently. I hadn’t thought of it before, but bamboo yarn is not only soft and silky, it’s vegan too! The PETA blog assures us that no cruelty is committed by using bamboo yarn.
  • bamboo, birdwatching towerThe Nagaland Bamboo Development Agency constructed a bamboo bird watching tower near Doyang as part of a bamboo promotion campaign.

bamboo and plastic greenhouse

  • Green Building Elements this month featured a lightweight greenhouse built from plastic drink bottles and bamboo – architect designed, no less. This one is now in operation on a farm near Hanoi.

  • More awesome bamboo architecture in Vietnam. This 750-seat hotel restaurant in Son La uses a local bamboo called Luong that grows to 8 metres high.

SonLa restaurant96 bamboo column units composed of 4 bamboos together induce the vertical expression of the bamboo structure like bamboo forest.

The bamboo was treated in a traditional method by soaking in it mud and then smoking it. I highly recommend a viewing of the other images on the Arch Daily website.

Hong Kong’s Bamboo Theatre

bamboo theatre, bambooSince 2012, a huge bamboo theatre has sprung up each year in West Kowloon in time for the Chinese New Year period. The 800-seat theatres take only weeks to construct. The theatres are temporary structures designed by architects using both traditional and modern architectural design. Ten specialist bamboo craftsman use more than 10,000 bamboo poles to build the theatres.

bamboo theatre, bambooAccording the architect of the 2012 theatre, William Lim, the design of the bamboo theatre is based on what bamboo theatres looked like in the 1950s and ’60s. These were both stages for performances and venues for banquets. The bamboo theatres are usually erected without the aid of a detailed floor plan and construction generally involves lots of improvising.

bamboo theatre, bambooEach year the theatre provides a programme of extremely popular xiqu (Chinese opera) performances. In its first year, the five day festival sold out. The 2013 festival ran for three weeks and was the programme was expanded to include contemporary music and dance performances. Also, a handicraft and food fair was set up outside the theatre. The fair is laid out in such a way to help visitors appreciate the architecture of the bamboo theatre. In 2013, the fair alone attracted more than one hundred thousand people. The 2014 festival ran for one month.

bamboo theatre, xiqu centre

Under construction now is the new Xiqu Centre. The design was unanimously selected from a short-list of five by a jury panel. The Xiqu Centre will be part of the 40 hectare West Kowloon Cultural District. The precinct, built on reclaimed land, will also include 23 hectares of public open space, museums, art galleries, and exhibition centres.

References:

Bamboo Scaffolding in Hong Kong

bamboo scaffoldingThis article about the traditional art of bamboo scaffolding in Hong Kong drew me to further research on the subject. Even the casual visitor, perhaps with no particular interest in bamboo, notices the bamboo scaffolding in Hong Kong. A 2008 conference paper on the subject revealed some very interesting facts.

Hong Kong has a long-standing tradition of using bamboo scaffolding for construction, renovation, repair work and signage. Bamboo scaffolding remains popular for many reasons:

  • It’s 6–8 times faster to erect than a similar metal scaffold.
  • The cost of bamboo poles is about 6% of the cost of steel poles.
  • For Hong Kong, the bamboo is cultivated in neighbouring Guangxi province, and then transported to Hong Kong along the Pearl River by lashing the poles together and floating them downstream.
  • Depending on the type of scaffolding, bamboo poles can be reused three to five times.

bamboo scaffolding, scaffoldersThe art of bamboo scaffolding has traditionally been passed on generation to generation, or through a three-year apprenticeship, with little written information. Now, apprentices can learn the skill in a year through on-the-job training or by attending a Construction Industry Training Authority (CITA) training course. After working in the industry for four years, a scaffolder can take the CITA trade test. In 2006, 268 candidates took the test and only 62% passed.

There is a steady growth in the number of written regulations, guidelines, codes, conferences and publications about bamboo scaffolding. Despite all the training and skill of Hong Kong’s bamboo scaffolders, and the code and guidelines, it’s still a dangerous job:

  • The overall accident rate in Hong is around 60 in every 1000 workers.
  • Repair and maintenance projects account for the majority of the accidents.
  • Many of the accidents in truss-out bamboo scaffolds have resulted from failures of the support bracket anchor bolts NOT the bamboo.

Bamboo scaffolding also has a role in the current democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. Professional scaffolders are lending a hand with erecting barriers and protesters are getting very creative with methods for joining the poles to create barricades.

bamboo scaffolding

Amazon and eBay have a curious selection of items related to bamboo scaffolding. Mousepads?

References and further reading:

 

Bamboo treehouse

bamboo tree house, bamboo treehouseGuadua Bamboo, rich source of practical information about bamboo, recently featured an architect-designed tree house in Columbia. The tree house started life as an idea for a small bamboo house for the grandkids, but Guadua Bamboo architect Jaime Peña suggested a tree house. He designed this stunning tree house drawing on principles of biomimetic architecture.

Biomimicry, examines nature, its models, systems, and processes for the purpose of gaining inspiration to solve human problems. Biomimetic architecture doesn’t replicate natural forms, but rather seeks to understand the rules governing those forms.

For examples in architecture think:

bamboo treehouse, sagrad familia

  • Barcelona’s Sagrada familia – columns that model the branching canopies of trees to solve statics problems in supporting the vault;
  • London’s Gherkin – inspired by the Venus Flower Basket Sponge;
  • The Eden Project in Cornwall – modelled after soap bubbles and pollen grains to construct the spherical shapes;
  • And now, this highly desirable tree house in Columbia.

bamboo treehouse, bamboo tree house“Of course, as bamboo is a natural, strong, flexible and sustainable resource, it automatically became the main building material of choice. Fractals, the golden ratio and sacred geometries, were studied, interpreted and applied in the proposal. This resulted in a spiral dome with ellipses and arcs as the basic structural geometries of the bamboo tree house.”

Biomimicry is not limited to architecture. For some fascinating examples of biomimicry in agriculture, medicine, natural cleaning and more, see Biomimcry.net.

I highly recommend viewing the images of the tree house on Guadua Bamboo. (Click on a small image to start the slide show). Breathtaking and inspirational.

References:

Bamboo on the Internet for August, 2014 – my picks

Date Claimers for September

bamboo sculptureThere are two important bamboo events on the east coast of Australia next month. One I’ve mentioned before is the bamboo sculpture competition in the delightful northern NSW town of Mullumbimby. 6-7 September at the Mullumbimby Community Gardens. The Echo recently ran a story on the competition. Maybe I’ll see you there.

bamboo events, Big Australian Bamboo Annual EventTwo weeks later, in Bellingen, on the mid north coast of NSW, is the Big Australian Bamboo Annual Event. The program offers workshops, tours, and social events in beautiful Bellingen. You could learn some new construction techniques, more about maintaining and propagating bamboo, and attend the social events.

Other notable posts about bamboo for the month:

  • library-cardBamboo library cards – for that extremely rare entity, the well-funded library. Although the library says they are only slightly more expensive than plastic cards. Perhaps we could all make the suggestion to our libraries and institutions that are keen to demonstrate their green credentials.
  • You’re probably already aware of bamboo knitting needles and bamboo crochet hooks, but what about bamboo yarn? The Craftsy blog published a post this month extolling the virtues of bamboo yarn. Amazon has a range of bamboo yarn. Some is viscose made from bamboo, and some are blends of bamboo and silk or bamboo and cotton. eBay au has quite a different range of bamboo yarn, including some bamboo-wool blends (Australian Marino, of course). If the bamboo knitting needles or crochet hooks you want on Amazon will not ship to Australia, eBay have some too.

bamboo construction, Neelam Manjunath

          • Indian architect Neelam Namjunath is a strong advocate for the use of bamboo in construction. Read more about her work and philosophy here.childcentre
          • More bamboo architecture:  DesignBoom featured a childhood centre in Columbia emphasising bamboo…

“…as a way of re-valuing local traditions in a contemporary manner [that] speaks of the need to use local elements as well as preserve the nearby riverbeds.”

There’s more interior and exterior photos, and a walk-through video clip on the DesignBoom website.

bamboo beer

  • More bamboo beer: A young Mexican entrepreneur, recipient of a Chinese Ministry of Commerce scholarship, returned from his 2 months in China with the idea to brew beer from bamboo. The beer is described as “a brown Ale beer (highly fermented), refreshing, spicy, fruity and herbal final flavour, with six degrees of alcohol and a thick foam.” Read more here.