Category Archives: Bamboo homes and buildings

The Great Wall Bamboo House

Commune by the Great Wall Near Biejing China – Kengo Kuma and Associates

Year built: 2002
Built area: 529 m2 (5,713 sq. ft.)

The Bamboo Wall House was completed in 2002 as part of a multi-dwelling project near Beijing. Requirements were to use local materials and conform to the topography. The architect chose to make maximum use of inexpensive bamboo – a traditional building material that has fallen out of favour in modern China.

Kengo Kuma's Great Wall

Kengo Kuma’s Great Wall

Bamboo offers enormous strength and, as long as it is properly prepared, longevity similar to timber. However, bamboo is a grass and is harvested rather than ‘cut down’ the way a tree is. A single bamboo plant can produce many hundreds of culms over its life. As this home shows, bamboo is also a delight for the eye.

“Our first aim was to learn from the formality of the Great Wall. We were constantly attracted to the fact that the Great Wall has never been an isolated object. The formal quality of it running almost endlessly along the undulating ridgeline without being isolated from the surrounding environment was the nature we were attracted. That appealed to us as a criticism toward the conventional form of ‘architecture’ that tends to seek to be an isolated object among the environment. Thus our intention was to apply this nature of the Great Wall to the act of dwelling. This is what the house is titled ‘WALL’ for, instead of ‘HOUSE’

As for the material, we used bamboo as much as possible, since it’s considered as having a significant meaning among Chinese and Japanese cultures. Depending on density of bamboo and its each diameter, it offers a variety of partitioning of space. Making the most of that characteristics, we decided to place a bamboo WALL, a layer of bamboo along the site’s inclination just like the Great Wall. The Great Wall in the past partitioned off two cultures, but this BAMBOO WALL would not only partition but also unite life and culture in various manners as the Great Wall in particles.”

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If you liked this, how about this bamboo passivehaus in France!


Leaf House – Indigenous ingenuity

Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro – Mareines + Patalano

Bamboo, local timbers, copper, massive beams spanning 20 metres and one of the world’s greatest harbours, help to make this a truly unique home. The design drew inspiration from indigenous Brazilian architecture to use natural ventilation to manage the hot and humid climate.

Leaf House – using indigenous design and materials to stay green

Leaf House – using indigenous design and materials to stay green

Notes from the architects:

“The roof acts as a big leaf that protects from the sun every room in the house as well as the free spaces between them. These free spaces represent the essence of the project, and how could it be otherwise, are the most interesting spaces and more used by people attending the house. Have in most cases a very high ceiling and allows the dominant southeast wind come frontally towards the sea and through the house, providing to all areas of the house, open or closed, ventilation and passive cooling. Eco-efficiency low-tech, where it has the greatest power to act in a building, the concept of architectural design.

We understand the beach house as a means to improve and make more pleasant the interaction of man with nature. Never separate them completely. There corridors. There is a lot of transparency and integration between inside and outside, almost a fusion between them. Here it is interesting to note the passage of the landscaping floor of the house, either by using vegetation as the pool which crossing the house turns into water mirror on the back porch. This balcony is called by office staff as “Brazilian lounge” by the adoption of networks for the rest area sauna, buried on land that begins to rise from this balcony.

The entire roof structure was made of laminated wood of eucalyptus, which due to its manufacturing process can simultaneously overcome large spans (20 meters is the largest of the house) with ease and aesthetic refinement. The roof, due to its complex geometry is made in small pieces of wood (pine). Eucalyptus, and Pinus species are planted for reforestation and used as feedstock considered renewable by the speed that reach the ideal time to be harvested. All surfaces finishing the house, except to glass and patinated copper are natural: Slate rust strips, natural wood, wood spider pole in the ground floor, and bamboo frames.

The use of natural materials, glass and patinated copper, which acquires a greenish tint and has very long shelf life, and rich organic aesthetic in detail how different rhythms and textures, provoked an interesting fact: The feeling that the house , brand new, there always seem to be in great harmony with the exuberant nature of Angra. The feeling of belonging to the place.”

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One with the birds

Badaling  China  –  Penda Design House

Concept only

Badaling is a forested mountain area about 100 kilometres from Beijing. It is one of the main sites for viewing and walking The Great Wall. Entries were invited in a competition to design an eco-hotel in one of China’s most successful, but ecologically sensitive, destinations – The Badaling Great Wall.

The Badaling Great Wall

The Badaling Great Wall

There is a saying in China “He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man”. The Badaling Great Wall is the most representative of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. The outpost of Juyongguan was considered the gateway to the Capital. A section measuring 3741 metres in length, including 21 tower terraces was opened to tourism in 1958. Since then, the area has had some 130 million visitors.

The site for the tent design competition is located in the north-west part of the Badaling Great Wall. The tent hotel will be a special residential area combining natural scenery and cultural relics, helping visitors to experience the Great Wall culture and its relationship with the Chinese people.

Badaling China

Badaling China

From Penda:

Our design for the AIM ‘legend of tent’ competition is driven by 3 main principles: an ecological understanding of the project, a flexible structure, which can be adapted to different surroundings and creating a comfortable atmosphere in a unique environment.

One With The Birds Badaling China - Penda Design House

One With The Birds Badaling China – Penda Design House

ecological understanding:
the design uses natural and local materials as a structural element. The focus was to create a connection which leaves no impact on the site, nor any harm on the bamboo itself, so after the temporary hotel is deconstructed, the materials can be reused as scaffolding on a construction site or reused as another temporary hotel on a different location.

flexible structure:
The structure is inspired by the teepees of native Americans, which didnt leave any harm on the site, nor on the material itself, because the joints were connected with ropes, so the tents were easy to construct, deconstruct and carried. A truly flexible system.

For our structural system, a stick of bamboo gets rotated, mirrored and connected with a horizontal element, which creates the possibility to grow in height. The columns get mirrord again, which fixes the beam in their center. Depending on the height and span of the grid, the rows of columns can be doubled, which results in a very clean joint. A rope can tie the connection, so no screws or nails are used. the bamboo stays in its initial state and can be reused afterwards.

the same knots of bamboo can be added in every direction, which creates the same knot on every connection and stabilizes the whole system. A new horizontal layer can be implemented and connects the beams, which creates a base for people to use the structure.

The width of the grid is 470cm with a floor to floor height of 400m. The base of the structure is elevated, so the foundation can adept to any given landscape.

By adding the same joints of bamboo and connecting them with each other, we get a structural grid where triangulated pots can be implemented: Sleeping pots of different sizes, larger pots for families, connected pots for larger functions like lobby or restaurant and pots for a bathroom or toilette.

We see the structure not just as an element which inhabits typical functions of a hotel and is connected to nature, we also see it as an element, where nature can be implemented and after a certain time, those plants can grow take over the whole structure.

comfortable uniqueness:
The 3rd key principles of our design is to create a comfortable environment in a unique experience. Hiking through the woods, one is normally surrounded by treetrunks, lacking a sense of orientation and visibility. When we were kids, we used to experience our environment differently. We used to connect to nature in a more direct way, climbing trees, enjoying unique views and exporing a different wildlife. We were connected to our environment in a 3 dimensional way. We were one with the birds…

This feeling of leaving city-life behind and getting connected to nature and experiencing our natural environment is the driving idea of our proposal.

With a flexible structural system and connected it with comfortable spaces, we have the opportunity to create a variety of buildings of different sizes. depending on the needs, the size and amount can grow: from single rooms to a family structure, to a size of a clubhouse or even up to larger scales, which fombine more functions of a typical hotel like a lobby or restaurant within one structure.

All is depending on the needs and on the demands, but each building connects in a very responsible diaglog to our natural environment.

While we voted for this design, it was not chosen as one of the five finalists. If you would like to see the winning entries, you can find them at Architects in Mission.

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Here are some other wonderful bamboo structures…

Panyaden School – bamboo, adobe and rammed earth

Chiang Mai, Thailand – 24H Architecture

Builder:      Chiangmai Life Construction

Project Year:      2010
Project Area:      5,000 m2  (54,000 sq. ft.)
Photographs:      Ally Taylor
Location:      Chiang Mai, Thailand
Awards:     Grand Award – Design for Asia; Gold Award – Design for Asia (Environmental design)

If you’ve been with us any period of time, you know that we’re great advocates of bamboo. It has 1,001 uses from the finest, naturally anti-microbial fabrics to girders for bridges. As a construction material, it is, in our opinion, supreme, as this amazing school demonstrates.

Panyaden School - Chiangmai Thailand

Panyaden School – Chiangmai Thailand


This is the second bamboo school we’ve featured  and, like The Green School of Bali, the ambiance is astounding. It’s hard to compare the traditional, closed environment most of our children learn in, to this. The school featured here uses a combination of bamboo, adobe and rammed earth to create a totally organic environment.

Here are some notes from the design/build team:

“In the lush green surroundings of a former fruit orchard, where Thailand’s highest mountains meet the flat rice fields, lies Panyaden School. Located just south of the city of Chiang Mai, this 5,000 m2 primary school exists of an informal arrangement of pavilions, organized along pathways inspired by the shape of the tropical antler horn fern.

The classroom pavilion type has load bearing walls from rammed earth, dividing the building into  three classrooms. Cupboards and shelves are all integrated in an adobe wall curving around the sanitary block. The curved contours of the bamboo roof structure refer to the mountains at the horizon of the site.

The sala pavilion type is used for the common functions as assembly hall and canteen. Columns exist of bamboo bundles reaching up, referring to the feeling of walking through a bamboo forest.The entire school is built from rammed earth taken from the site and local bamboo that has been naturally treated to withstand the elements.

Organic vegetables and rice are grown on school property. Environmentally friendly waste water treatment and biogas production round up the picture of an environmentally friendly school with a negligible carbon footprint.

Panyaden is a private school that accommodate 375 students including 10 – 20 percent of local Thai kids funded by scholarships. They will be the ambassadors to introduce green living into the lives of their communities.

The school integrates Buddhist values and environmental mindfulness with a modern bilingual curriculum. 

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If you liked this, you’ll also like viewing other bamboo homes

Bamboo Passive in France

Val d’Oise, France – Karawitz Architecture

Built area: 177 m2 (1,905 sq. ft.)
Year built: 2009
Heating needs: 11kWh/m²a
Photography: Hervé Abbadie and Karawitz

Orientation can make or break any home! In the southern hemisphere, sound design principles dictate that a home should open to the north and be protected from the south. In the northern hemisphere it is, of course, the opposite. Green building starts with orientation as the home shown here demonstrates, being closed to the north and having most of its triple-pane windows facing south.

France’s First Passivhaus

France’s First Passivhaus

The home has been acknowledged as the best performance, low consumption house in France and is the first French home to receive the European PHI “Passiv Haus Institut” certification.

The home uses a double skin – the outer being a bamboo screen that protects the home from intense sun and provides sheltering verandas while a solar system and bamboo roof complete the exterior envelope. The foundation slab is the only concrete, with the whole structure assembled from large, prefabricated timber panels.

The windows are triple glazed and the resulting home is so well insulated that the primary sources of heat are the simply the body heat of occupants and the sun. A heat recovery ventilator system provides fresh air.

“The Bamboo House is the first architect-designed and certified passive house in France, with a design incorporating numerous innovations. In this solid timber structure, technical and aesthetic aspects combine to form a unified whole: for example, galvanized sheet metal ventilation ducts have been left visible, while the foldaway sunshades on the south-facing façade are integral elements of the basic architecture. The outer shell is entirely covered with cut-to-measure bamboo poles threaded onto steel wires, giving a filigree appearance to this compact structure.”

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If you liked this home, you will also like viewing Crossway Passivhaus

Bamboo Courtyard Teahouse

ShiQiao, Yangzhou China  –  World Consulting & Design (HWCD)

Building Area:     400m2
Completed:     May 2012

Yangzhou is a city located to the north-west of Shanghai. It is home to Huaiyang-style cuisine which ranks as the top of all eight famous Chinese cuisine styles. Focussed on pastries and snacks as the key components, it’s customary for Yangzhou people to have morning tea in teahouses.

A reflection on tea...

A reflection on tea…

The teahouse featured here is a modern take on a traditional style, using a combination of austere grey brickwork and bamboo screens arranged both vertically and horizontally. Through the effective use of courtyards and concealed lighting, the design allows guests to participate in the simple art of tea.

From the architects:

Tea, one of China’s most precious culture heritages has remained popular throughout the thousands of years. As tea leaves come from modest tea trees, through the long process of picking the leaves, drying the leaves and finally produces a cup of tea.

Thus, tea requires an unassuming setting in order to understand its lengthy process. Today, the appreciation of Chinese tea has become an art and furthermore, many teahouses are designed for this purpose.

Amongst the lush ShiQiao garden, stands this humble tea house which embraces the traditional Chinese garden fundamentals while blending into the natural environment.

The tea house is known as the bamboo courtyard as it mainly uses bamboo to create an interesting play of vertical and horizontal lines. In some spaces, the vertical and horizontal elements intensify to form a psychedelic perspective, evoking a profound sensory perception.

Traditionally, Yangzhou courtyards are formed with inward facing pavilions, creating an internal landscape space. So, drawing inspiration from this, the bamboo courtyard was designed from a basic square footprint, fragmented into small spaces to create an internal landscape area. Each of the spaces has views into the surrounding lake, allowing a panoramic view of the area.

As one walks through the bamboo courtyard, the asymmetrical corridors present an intentional semi-obstructed vision with the layering of bamboos.

There is a strong experiential sense of space, layered from one to another; from totally open to the internal lake to narrow spaces between the rough brick finish and bamboo curtain.

Bamboo in Construction

Bamboo – the miracle resource. No other plant on earth has the multitude of uses that bamboo does. It can be used for shelter, to pipe water, for utensils to cook in and with, for forks, knives and chopsticks, for the plates the food is served on and even the napkin on your lap as you eat that food.  The list is almost endless. This album is dedicated to bamboo as it is used to build the places we live, work and relax in.

These are great examples of how you can use bamboo to build a trellis.

These are great examples of how you can use bamboo to build a trellis.

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Gather – smaller but larger

Osaka-City  Japan  –   Katsuhiro Miyamoto and Associates

Site area:    120.34 m2  (1,300 sq. ft.)
Building envelope:     72.08 m2  (778 sq. ft.)
Total built area:     135 m2  (1,458 sq. ft.)
Year built:     2009

This Osaka home presented some unique challenges.  Firstly, it contravened the allowable site ratio for the area yet the new owners were hoping for a more open, spacious feel. The home also failed to comply with updated earthquake regulations. The options were to demolish or renovate. Renovation was chosen.

Gather - strengthened and beautified by 2.8 kilometres of 2x4's

Gather – strengthened and beautified by 2.8 kilometres of 2×4’s

The architect has used exactly 1,000 lengths of 2×4 chamfered pine timber to delight the eye and mind. Externally, the home sits in perfect compliance with the road appearing as though the home is made of sticks that have been placed together haphazardly. But, the minute you walk inside, you are greeted by a futuristic and thoroughly modern home that is both artistic and pristine. The use of courtyards and large windows ensure that the warmth of the timber is shown to maximum effect.

It’s a home that is challengingly different, but for our money, it ticks all the boxes. What do you think?

Architect’s notes:

This is a renovation project of twenty-seven years old wooden residence built in a low-storey and high-density town areas of southern Osaka City. The intent was to solve numerous problems of the existing house at once, applying a single rule, undulating lattice surfaceモ. The concept is to respond to every functional change by making undulating walls composed of the lattice surface that uses nearly one thousand 2 x 4 woods.

Firstly, the existing area that cross over the plot area ratio was reduced and three spot gardens integrated with the interior spaces were established for the purpose of letting the light and wind in. After that, an existing steep staircase was retracted and a new atrium staircase room was added in the existing garden. These were what were modified on the plan. Then, the total of one thousand 2 x 4 woods, which would count up to 2.8 km when aligned in series, wrap around the spaces. Tilting slightly inwards or outwards and altering the rotations of blades, the entire lattice surface continuously integrates miscellaneous spaces irrelevantly, no matter if it is existing or addition or interior or exterior. As a result, interior spaces feel very spacious compared to the pre-renovation condition, although the floor area was reduced. Additionally, the lattice surface functions as not merely ornament, but as a cover of seismic reinforcement that was required legally to the existing parts. In reality, the lattice surface itself should work as seismic reinforcement, but was not permitted by the law.

Ideas were required for the details of the lattice surface’s blades. Round chamfer was treated on the shorthand sides of the visible woods, so that smooth pleats will be created equally to everywhere in the spite of the irregularly continuing curvature. Thus the, undulation of the lattice surface gives various characters to the living spaces. For example, at the place where there is a large gap between the lattice surface and the structural walls, storage is installed. A kitchen counter is shaped where the lattice surface swells large into the room. Additionally, the lattice surface standing high along the adjacent road like a lumber shop is devised to double layers of variously rotating blades, so to prevent glances from the passers-by, at the same time bring in the wind. Simultaneously, it produces beautiful moiré during the daytime and at the nighttime turns into a large lighting fixture. Unexpectedly it plays a role as a public streetlight that softly illuminates the walkway.

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A Child’s Paradise

Koh Kood  Thailand  –  24H Architecture

It’s not a home – but it could be.  It’s an activity centre for children who’s parents have invested in a vacation at the fabulous (and very expensive) Soneva Kiri Resort.  We featured the resort on our Facebook page about a month ago but held this treat back as it definitely deserves it’s own album 🙂

Six senses for children...

Six senses for children…

The architects, 24H Architecture are never afraid to step ‘out of the square. Some of their designs are the most radical, yet practical, we have come across. Clearly, it helps to have clients with budgets big enough to accommodate the unusual!

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Don’t stop now! Here are some more examples of bamboo construction…

Bamboo Brilliance – Wind and Water Cafe

 Vietnam – Vo Trong Nghia

Vietnam has a long tradition of bamboo construction. When local architects, Vo Trong Nghia were briefed to design a bar come meeting place, bamboo seemed a natural candidate.

Bamboo Brilliance...

Bamboo Brilliance…

The Water and Wind Café in the southern province of Binh Duong subsequently won Nghia the 2007 International Architecture Award (IAA).  Since then he has won many international awards, mostly for his bamboo structures.

As a student, Nghia was selected to study architecture in Japan. His childhood years spent growing in a small village in central Vietnam were a perfect background for what he would learn in Japan and for the projects in his homeland.

“We used bamboo and cane and such materials for everything,” recalls the architect of his village life. Everything from farming tools to cooking utensils were – and still are – woven together achieving strength and durability.  That knowledge shows in many of his buildings are today.

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If you like the simple elegance of this, you’ll probably get a kick out of viewing More Bamboo Brilliance

The Green School of Bali

Bali, Indonesia – John and Cynthia Hardy

Builders: PT Bambu

Rainforests continue to disappear at an alarming rate.  Environmentalists and designers, John and Cynthia Hardy have experienced the loss and degradation first hand in their adopted home, Bali.  The Hardys wanted to motivate communities to live sustainably, thereby protecting those forests. Building sustainably with bamboo is a key part of that.

The Green School of Bali

The Green School of Bali

As a practical demonstartion of these principles, they established the Green School, the Meranggi Foundation, which develops plantations of bamboo plants through presenting bamboo seedlings to local rice farmers and PT Bambu, a design and construction company that promotes the use of bamboo as a primary building material.

The Green School comprises some 75 buildings in total.  They are cooled and powered with renewable energy sources.  These include the air around us, micro-hydro power, solar power, and bio-diesel. Bamboo, lalang-alang grass (a local grass), and traditional mud walls form the structure of the buildings.

The school was planned and built on 20 acres.  The whole 20 acres is an integrated permaculture system, designed to work in harmony with the natural ecology of the land.

As a part of their curriculum, students grow fruits and vegetables, herbs, and other crops including chocolate.

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There are 35 images and a video.  We hope you enjoy them.


Another equally wonderful school is Panyaden

The Green Village

Bali, Indonesia – PT Bambu

Built area: 18,700 m2 (201,285 sq. ft)
Year built: 2010
Photography: Courtesy of Bambu Indah Collection

The infinite joy of bamboo

Some time back we showed you the magnificent Green School of Bali.  Using totally sustainable materials and practices, Elora Hardy and her team built, what must surely be, every child’s fantasy of a school.  If you missed that post, you can still see it here (Green School).

Being connected with nature

Being connected with nature

Bali born Hardy has now turned her attention toward The Green Village.  As CEO and lead designer for the Bali-based bamboo design and construction company, Ibuku, the material of choice is, of course, bamboo… “Even sustainable timber can’t begin to compare with bamboo as a conscientious building material. With very few resources or attention a bamboo shoot can become a structural column within three years, and that house could stand strong for a lifetime.”

“We are committed to changing people’s perspective on the infinite potential of bamboo,” she says. “Creating spaces where people can feel connected to nature without disrupting it is a thrilling design challenge for me.”

The Green Village community is located twenty-five minutes to Bali’s cultural centre of Ubud, 35 minutes to Bali’s surfing beaches and within walking distance to the Green School campus – currently home to 280 day and boarding students.

The village has already attracted home-owners from all over the world. We’re ready to join them. What about you?

If you’d like to find out more about how Elora is shaping the world of sustainable building, take the time to watch the very inspiring video beneath the photo gallery.

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Like this? You’ll love the Green School of Bali