The Indonesian island of Bali is witnessing a new trend. Bamboo building, emblem of sustainable construction, are replacing concrete and steel.
Buildings had use bamboo for centuries. It has an impressive strength-to-weight ratio.
Bamboo is not seen as the poor man’s timber anymore. Not far from smoggy Denpasar new ambitious bamboo projects are growing. These buildings are the brainchild of eco-conscious foreigners.
“Bamboo is unmatched as a sustainable building material. What it can do is remarkable. It grows far quicker than timber and doesn’t destroy the land it’s grown on.” Ben Ripple, Big Tree Farms Bali co-founder
Resorts, schools, villas and even a chocolate factory in the Indonesian island are putting bamboo to work. These structures show excellent examples of a sustainable way to build.
Studies show construction is one of the world’s least sustainable industries. It’s eating up around half of the globe’s non-renewable resources. Sustainable construction though is slowly taking root all over the world.
“What makes bamboo environmentally-friendly is the speed at which it grows. Building-quality bamboo will grow between six and 10 meters in that time.” Terry Sunderland, scientist at the Centre for International Forestry Research in Indonesia
Around 200 farmers across the island are paid to grow bamboo on areas of their land not used for agriculture. Some of the largest logs are 25 meters long but only take 3 years to grow.
“Many people still think bamboo is cheap and only for small buildings, but we’re showing it can be used to make high houses and really redefine how the material is used.”Terry Sunderland
Bamboo has its drawbacks. Without intensive treatment, it’s prone to rotting. It also catches fire relatively easily. For these reasons many countries limit bamboo structures height.
Building with bamboo is not fool proof, but technologies to protect it from the elements are rapidly improving.
“We treat each piece of bamboo with a mixture of water and boric acid, to stop fungus and insects. Before doing this, a bamboo structure would last only seven years, now we’re not sure how long a building can last.” Mokoho Sumerta, Bamboo Factory Bali
Challenges did not stop Bali entrepreneurs, and project like Bali Green village, Ibuku, Sunrise house, Green School Bali, New Earth Haven restaurant, New Earth Haven Dome,Sukaheat Eco Resort Bali, Bali Eco Stay, Luxury Bamboo Hostel, Bamboo Eco Cottage, Hideout Bali, Big Tree Farm are great examples.