Tag Archives: Hong Kong

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.

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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 on the Internet for March 2014 – my picks

bamboo pplanterBamboo urinal: a self-contained and somewhat mobile, eco-friendly public urinal. The unit has three main components; planter module (with the growing bamboo); the water tank; and, the urinal and sink. One pees in the urinal (women can use a disposable funnel to achieve this). Once done, a foot pump draws water from the water tank for hand washing and urinal rinsing. The used water is pumped into the planter module/biofilter, where the bamboo is growing in a medium of rocks, wood chips and styrofoam. The water, nitrogen and phosphorous are used by the bamboo, while bacteria living in the growing medium break down carbohydrates and protein. There is reportedly little if any smell. A prototype was tested in a San Francisco neighbourhood and stood up to use by over 300 people within an 8 hour period, says Gizmag

bamboo housing

Bamboo shelters inside abandoned factory buildings is one solution for the housing shortage in Hong Kong offered by architects from AFFECT T. These are positively spacious compared to other barely-affordable options for Hong Kong’s poor workers. 

More for bamboo sticks, these ones more high-tech: Bamboo ski poles and bamboo skis. As a resident of the wet tropics, I rarely get to see snow, let alone play in it. You will find a review of new bamboo skis here. They look gorgeous. Mobile art? Some of them are available on Amazon. Alternatively, there are some very interesting looking vintage bamboo skis and ski poles on eBay au.

bamboo organThe Saint Joseph Parish Church in Las Piñas, The Phillipinesis now a designated National Treasure. The church is home to a famous bamboo organ, already a National Cultural Treasure. Pipe organ buffs will already be familiar with this historic instrument. People write books about it, write music for it, and record music played on it. There is a small book
and music selection on Amazon, and eBay au has a few records and CDs. If you’re too curious to hear the bamboo organ and can’t wait, here’s a YouTube clip for you: