A growing trend, in architecture, is the use of alternative building materials that are less damaging to the environment. Considered to be one of the fastest-growing woody plants around, bamboo provides a sustainable and low-impact solution to building homes, especially in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Leaving behind the glamorous world of fashion, Ibuku-founder Elora Hardy has instead embraced the simplicity and versatility of Bali’s vernacular architectural tradition. For the last 5 years, she and her team, of talented designers and artisans, have been constructing spectacular, yet eco-friendly, bamboo dwellings, all over the Indonesian island.
Known for its strength and flexibility, bamboo is superior to other types of wood, in several respects. An evergreen plant, belonging to the grass family, its compressive strength is believed to be higher than that of wood and even concrete. With a tensile strength nearly at par with steel, it is quite possibly one of the most resilient building materials around. Being an eco-friendly, renewable natural resource, bamboo actually lowers the net carbon footprint of a house. Furthermore, its charmingly rustic character helps create simple, earthy homes, as opposed to the cold brick-and-steel buildings currently crowding the cities. Speaking about bamboo’s potential as a sturdy construction material Hardy said, at a recent TED Talk:
It’s a promise to the kids. It’s one sustainable material that they will not run out of. And when I first saw these structures under construction about six years ago, I just thought, this makes perfect sense…Why hasn’t this happened sooner, and what can we do with it next?
Inspired by her father’s architectural style, Hardy decided to renounce her career in the New York fashion world and, instead founded Ibuku, a Bali-based firm that specializes in sustainable, yet beautiful, bamboo designs. Armed with a team of world-class designers, architects and artisans, she has since ushered a bamboo revolution, of sorts, in Indonesia. Made from eco-friendly local materials, most of these houses have a form, and structure, that fosters self-sufficiency and tranquility. The designs rely greatly on the use of minimalist bamboo furniture and, the optimization of available natural light. The host, at the TED conference, stated:
The strength of this abundant local grass allows for towering, curvilinear structures with a notable sense of luminosity and comfort. Ibuku builds on a design process and an engineering system that were first established at the nearby Green School. Five years ago, Elora and her team chose one humble material, and with it they are building a whole new world.
However, using bamboo, for building houses, is actually quite challenging, and requires a special type of expertise, with regard to its handling and preservation. Its round and hollow structure actually renders it unsuitable for use in roofing and flooring, where big flat panels are the best choice. Additionally, bamboo needs to be weatherproofed, before use, as its strength and quality degrade significantly upon prolonged exposure to moisture. Damage, due to insects, is a pertinent problem, reducing the material’s durability. However, Hardy has devised a solution, which involves the use of boron, to make the bamboo pieces indigestible to pests. She said:
We have had to invent our own rules.
To know more about Elora Hardy, head over to Ibuku’s website.