The Appeal of Green Steel
We are grateful and proud to be part of Design and Architecture’s article “The Appeal of Green Steel” promoting bamboo architecture.
Bamboo has been used as a construction material for thousands of years. From China and Japan to India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Polynesia and South America, the versatile, evergreen plant known to be as tough as wood has been central to the building of houses, huts, bridges, flooring, rafts, boats and so much more.
While still relevant and widely used today, the fast growing and hardy crop, nicknamed “green steel”, has come under an even bigger spotlight in recent years, as more construction and design professionals look for environmentally sustainable alternatives to concrete, timber and steel.
The Versatility of Bamboo
Markus Roselieb, Principal at Chiangmai Life Architects in Thailand likes working with bamboo because it is strong and flexible. He uses various species, but a favourite is Thyrsostachys oliveri, which is native to southern China, Myanmar and Thailand; this species produces straight, hard and elegant looking culms (poles). One of his recent projects, the Secondary School Library at Panyaden in Chiangmai, Thailand, was constructed entirely out of bamboo and adobe bricks, made from sand and clay.
“Bamboo is a natural tube, which is the strongest geometrical form for structural materials. The culms have nodes – the woody rings between each segment – that reinforce their strength. Bamboo has a higher tensile strength than steel and a similar load-bearing strength to hardwood,” says Roselieb.
He adds, “The natural flexibility of bamboo also makes it easier for us to design flowing curves and other, non-box-like forms that are more in sync with the natural environment. Plus, bamboo structures are beautiful to look at and they need not be covered up or painted.”