Bamboo and Architecture
Bamboo is as beautiful as it is practical, and it has been used in architecture for a long time. In South America, for example, evidence was found that bamboo was used to build dwellings up to 9,500 years ago. Today, some group in Asia, like the Dai people in Laos, still live in the two-storied bamboo stilt houses — the upper floor of the house contains bedrooms, kitchens and balconies, and the ground floor is used to house poultry and domestic animals. As it is light and tough with elasticity and bearing capacity, bamboo is an ideal building material, and it’s also an elegant material with an extremely low carbon footprint. Bamboo architecture is growing in popularity. It has gone from the building material of the poor to the choice of architects and artists with rapid ambition. At the first-ever international Bamboo Architecture Biennale showed, bamboo can be used in all kinds of things, including exterior sheathing, structural spines, interior screens, ventilation systems, canopies, stairs, ceilings, floors, and walls. We may expect to see more of this sustainable and renewable building material in our future homes.
Bamboo has been made into numerous products over the years: from furniture such as bamboo chairs, bamboo stools and bamboo beds, to kitchenware including bowls, plates and bamboo chopping boards. As for containers, there are bamboo cupboards and bamboo cases; writing materials, like bamboo brushes and bamboo pen containers; and clothing, like bamboo hats and bamboo shoes. Whether they are made of raw or treated bamboo, they all seem to be used with more frequency now that we are re-discovering the versatility of the products. In Beijing and Bangkok, bamboo shoots are a valuable addition to many dishes. In Japan, nimble-fingered craftsmen fashion it into fans, flutes and other lovely handicrafts. It is imported to the Western Countries, where interior decorators use it to trim elegant flats, giving it a “tropical touch”. Perhaps the most encouraging trend of all is that we are only beginning to realize how green bamboo is as a nature material. As we continue to search for ways to lessen our impact on the environment, bamboo may offer us the best chance to save our remaining forests so that future generations can experience the simple joys of wooden touch.