The world is in the rapid pace of development with villages turning into towns, towns into cities, and cities into developmental capitals every hour. Massive concrete structures, architectural marvels, high-rise buildings, steel skyscrapers, and physical infrastructures are being constructed in every nook and corner of the world which has resulted in drastic impacts on our surroundings and the environment as a whole. While we seem to be completely engrossed in this ever-growing urbanization and modernization, it’s high time that we reflect upon alternative sustainable architectural design concepts, construction techniques, and construction materials. One such material that can aid in the development of the era of sustainable architectural design and structures in the future is bamboo.
Bamboo is a locally sourced composite material that essentially comprises of woody grass. It is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. Bamboo has been used for the construction of different architectural houses, structures, and monuments particularly in Asian countries such as Vietnam, China, and Indonesia since ancient times.
Bamboo is extremely desirable for sustainable architectural design and construction as it is highly durable and environmentally compatible with high sustainable qualities. With a very high strength to weight ratio, bamboo can be a suitable improved alternative to conventional concrete and steel.
What makes bamboo the utmost fit for sustainable architectural design and building is the perfect blend and combination of properties it possesses i.e. considerable tensile strength, lightweight, fast-growing rate, and inevitable renewable nature. Bamboo offers great flexibility and ease in handling and is thus suitable for the construction of sustainable structures even in less accessible and difficult areas. Moreover, bamboo ensures the economical design of structures as it is available locally.
On one hand, bamboo fosters and enhances the technique of sustainable design and construction while on the other hand cultivation of bamboo in low-income areas can help to uplift the living condition of the economically backward communities. Incorporating, exquisite bamboo designs in architectural constructions can also attract a flock of tourists thereby boosting the tourism sector as well.
Sustainability in Architectural Design and Construction
The architectural and associated construction industry is advancing and growing every day and profoundly impacting almost every other industry around the world including the environmental aspects of the Earth. According to statistical reports, the construction industry produces about one-third of the total wastes produced around the globe. Likewise, it also contributes 11% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world (European Commission (DG ENV), 2011).
The consumption of natural resources especially renewable resources for this industry is at its peak which can result in a serious resource crisis in the future. Hence, it is of utmost necessary to shift to more sustainable design and construction practices. To incorporate sustainability in actual practice, it is essential to address the major environmental issues such as waste management, utilization of natural resources, water resources consumption, and management, pollution, etc.
Sustainable construction can be ensured only if sustainability is included right from the design phase to the construction and handover phase of the structure.
Bamboo as the sustainable design and structure material
Bamboo is a renewable natural material that can be utilized for sustainable building design and construction. Due to its replenishing nature, bamboo can be used as a renewable alternative to other non-renewable materials. Bamboo helps to digest the carbon dioxide present in the air thereby reducing the carbon content. Thus, bamboo helps to cleanse the greenhouse gases in the air, and utilizing it as a construction material can help to minimize the emission of greenhouse gases.
Figure 1: Bamboo Biomass (Photo By Erika on Unsplash)
Bamboo is one of the green plants that play a significant role in maintaining the balance in temperature and preventing the global temperature rise. Every year tons of concrete are produced for the construction industry. The commercial production of concrete directly triggers climate change. Bamboo can be a suitable greener alternative to concrete as it does not boost climate change instead helps to maintain the climatic condition.
Using bamboo as the chief material in structural designs can reduce the adverse impact of construction activities on the environment to a great extent. Sustainability experts from around the world have accepted bamboo as one of the most eco-friendly building material on the planet.
Sustainable Architectural Design using bamboo
Bamboo can be efficiently used as a sustainable material for various types of architectural designs. Bamboo can be carved, molded, and arranged into any desirable form due to its lightweight for producing eye-catching aesthetically appealing structures.
Apart from this, bamboo is also being used for low-cost housing and contemporary housing architectural techniques. This is mainly because of the natural eco-friendly and economic benefits offered by bamboo. Realizing the importance of sustainable designs, many Architects are opting for bamboo architecture rather than the conventional ones in recent times.
According to the newsletter published by the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR) on 16th April 2019, the Bamboo Eye Pavilion designed by Mauricio Cardenas Laverde is the largest Pavilion ever built in China (International Bamboo and Rattan Organization, 2020). The pavilion encompasses a 1600 square meter structure that is solely built using 5000 bamboo poles.
The basic purpose behind the construction of such a massive bamboo pavilion was to depict the aesthetic characteristic of bamboo and its scope in architectural designs as well as to promote the concept of “live green, live better”.
Bamboo for sustainable and Green Construction Material
The use of bamboo in the construction sector not only ensures sustainability but also offers long term durability. Bamboo can be used as an environmentally friendly alternative to man-made building materials thereby causing minimal disturbance to the existing environmental balance of the planet. With high strength and durability, bamboo is no less than the modern-day concrete used excessively as the major construction material.
A bamboo is a good option for use in the construction industry even in terms of rigidity and density. Hence, bamboo can be used as a green construction material for the construction of small houses to large suspension bridges. Countries like India and China are utilizing bamboo to construct schools, houses, roads, and bridges. Moreover, the use of bamboo in construction ensures low-carbon and greener construction of structures.
The use of bamboo in the design and construction industry can pave the way for sustainable architectural design and construction practice in the mere future. The existing environmental issues and global crisis on account of the development and construction activities is increasing at an alarming rate. Opting for greener sustainable materials such as bamboo is a must to curb such crises and issues.
Summing up, bamboo is one of the most versatile, promising, and eco-friendly construction materials, and indeed the future of sustainable architectural design and construction largely depends on the production and utilization of bamboo.