Can bamboo be utilised as a construction material?
Did you know that bamboo has unique properties that make it an ideal building material?
Read on to learn about some of the benefits of using this grass (that's stronger than steel!) for construction purposes.
Historical and modern uses of bamboo in construction
Bamboo has been traditionally used to build homes in countless rural communities in Asia and Latin America. Research by INBAR shows that some bamboo housing structures in Ecuador and Costa Rica are up to 4,500 years old. In Costa Rica, these homes have maintained their structural soundness and stability over long periods of time, despite the humid environment and frequency of earthquakes in these regions. The stability of bamboo structures therefore present adequate earthquake resistance over time, and at a low cost.
Now, bamboo is often used for scaffolding, bridges, and innovative construction of structures across the globe. This choice of using bamboo as building material is popular due to convenience, ease of access, versatility, safety, and aesthetics. Advances in technology, like developed jointing and structural engineering techniques, have made projects like this possible. Some outstanding bamboo constructions to note are the Hardelot Theatre in France that uses bamboo as a cladding material and Vedana Restaurant in Vietnam. Other interesting modern constructions made with bamboo include Diamonds Island Community Hall in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the Luum Temple in Tulum, Mexico, and Son La Restaurant in Son La, Vietnam.
Advantages of bamboo as a building material
The use of bamboo as a building material has many benefits including, but not limited to, the following:
Elasticity: Bamboo’s elasticity makes it almost entirely resistant to damage by earthquakes. In 1991, a group of bamboo homes in Costa Rica survived a 7.6 magnitude earthquake. The architect, Simón Valdez, a Colombian pioneer in using bamboo as a material for construction, said: "Since bamboo generally has extraordinary tensile strength, I can say from my experience that any type of architectural structure that can be built in steel can also be built with bamboo."
Tensile strength: Researchers have also demonstrated that some bamboo species have equal or better strength:weight ratio than steel and lumber. Other bamboo species also have been shown to match the strength of concrete.
Fire resistance: Bamboo can withstand temperatures of up to 4,000C due to its high concentrations of silicate acid and water.
Flexibility: Bamboo can be trained into different shapes while it grows without compromising its strength. It maintains this flexibility after being harvested as well.
Economical: Bamboo is more economical than other building materials because it grows quickly and can be harvested yearly without negatively impacting the ecosystem around it. This makes it a particularly viable building material in rural communities.
Lightweight: Bamboo can be easily installed and transported due to its low weight.
Bamboo has not only a rich history but also a bright future in the world of architecture. Be sure to follow us to keep up with the latest in bamboo!