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Bamboo is a tribe of flowering perennial evergreen plants.
They are some of the fastest-growing plants in the world. They are of
notable economic and cultural significance in South Asia, Southeast Asia
and East Asia, being used for building materials, as a food source, and as a
versatile raw product.
Bamboo species are found in diverse climates, from cold mountains to hot
tropical regions.
There are over 1600 species of bamboo, 64 percent of which are native to
Southeast Asia. 33 percent grows in Latin America, and the rest in Africa
and Oceania.
Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants on Earth, with reported
growth rates of 100 cm (39 in) in 24 hours. However, the growth rate
is dependent on local soil and climatic conditions, as well as species,
and a more typical growth rate for many commonly cultivated bamboos
in temperate climates is in the range of 3–10 centimeters (1.2–3.9 in)
per day during the growing period.
Primarily growing in regions of warmer climates, vast fields existed in
what is now Asia. Some of the largest timber bamboo can grow over
30 m (98 ft) tall, and be as large as 15–20 cm (5.9–7.9 in) in diameter.
forest in
There are two types of bamboo with approximately 1500 species.
There are two main forms: the economically and ecologically important
woody bamboos and the understory herbaceous bamboos.
Molecular analysis of the suggests that there are 3-5 major lineages
of bamboo. Four major lineages are recognized: temperate woody,
paleotropical woody, neotropical woody and herbaceous bamboos.
Bamboo is useful for different things at different ages:
<30 days it is good for eating
6-9 months for baskets
2-3 years for bamboo boards or laminations
3-6 years for construction
>6 years bamboo gradually loses strength up to 12 years old
Bamboo, like true wood, is a natural composite material with high
strength-to-weight ratio useful for structures.
In its natural form, bamboo as a construction material is traditionally
associated with the cultures of South Asia, East Asia and the South
Pacific, to some extent in Central and South America.
Bamboo's tensile strength has been essential in the development of
bridges. In China and India, bamboo was used to hold up simple
suspension bridges, either by making cables of split bamboo or twisting
whole culms (individual bamboo stems) of sufficiently pliable bamboo
together. Using only the exterior part of the bamboo, which is four
times as strong as the interior, the Chinese created tension cables up
to 120 meters long. Bamboo bridges were also by the Incas in South
n bridges
bamboo to
Bamboo also has a long history of use in buildings, being common to the
vernacular architecture of China, Southeast Asia and Central and
South America. The Chinese could span up to ten meters with their
corbelling technology, and bamboo has been used extensively all over
Indonesia, especially in the Celebes Islands.
Although they have a great history of building with bamboo, today the
Japanese use it only for their traditional tea houses.
Bamboo Roofing
A number of cultures have used bamboo for roofing materials. The
Chinese used bamboo for roofs with the ends covered with round
tiles. In the Philippines, roofs of interlocking split bamboo are
created with the part receiving the water being the soft inner
surface of the bamboo.
An excellent system utilizes bamboo rafters with bamboo boards.
This is plastered on both sides, and fired clay tiles are used to
waterproof. Besides structures built of whole bamboo, truss systems
have been developed using flat bamboo strips which are connected
with bolts.
Bamboo is unique in that it is strong in both tension and compression.
While tensile strength remains the same throughout the age of the
bamboo plant, compressive strength increases as it gets older.
Bamboo has been used as reinforcement for concrete in those areas
where it is plentiful.
•High strength-to-weight ratio
•High tensile strength
•Strong in compression
•Good for earthquake-prone areas
This technology creates a
one-meter square grid of
punched holes in the stone
wall, which is then covered
with a 10 cm mesh of
bamboo on the inside and
outside. This net is secured
to the wall by means of 12gauge gabion wire, (a form
of riprap contained in a wire
cage that is very useful in
erosion control.), which is
inserted through the holes
and fastened strongly.
In the Philippines, the nipa hut, also known as bahay kubo, is a fairly
typical example of the most basic sort of indigenous housing where
bamboo is used; the walls are split and woven bamboo, and bamboo
slats and poles may be used as its support.
constructed with bamboo
tied together and covered
with a thatched roof using
nipa/anahaw leaves.
Nipa huts were the native
houses of the indigenous
people of the Philippines
arrived. They are still used
today, especially in rural
architectural designs are
present among the different
ethnolinguistic groups in the
country, although all of them
conform to being stilt
houses, similar to those
This is a student humanitarian design project on the Thai Burmese
border: it combines beautifully designed (and super efficient)
vernacular-inspired architecture with social responsibility in aiding
the plight of Karen refugee orphans. Five students in Thailand are
using architecture to make new lives for 24 orphans by providing them
with homes to call their own.
They built dormitories for Karen refugee children in the village of
Noh Bo on the Thai-Burmese border. The six woven bamboo huts,
dubbed Soe Ker Tie, or The Butterfly Huts because of their “winged”
The huts are pre-fabricated and assembled on site with sustainability
in mind. Most of the bamboo used is harvested locally and woven in
the same way that is traditional to the area. The special flapped roof
of the Soe Ker Tie House is conducive to natural ventilation.
Each hut is raised above ground level preventing issues that could
arise due to moisture and decay.
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