Recontextualizing bamboo: a look back at traditional art and craft techniques – Informial


Information (The Jakarta Post)

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Tue, September 28, 2021


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In areas with a suitable climate, the bamboo plant is able to grow very quickly. Experts have considered bamboo to be one of the fastest growing plants in the world due to the rhizome’s unique root growth system, with some bamboo species being able to grow from 910 millimeters in a 24 hour period, to a speed of almost 40 millimeters per hour. .

Bamboo does not require special soil to grow, and many species can be found on marginal land: bordering ravines, forests and other places considered less productive. Thus, bamboo is a good choice for reforestation, land restoration, landslide prevention and climate change mitigation.

With over 1,400 species that can be grouped into 115 genera, the majority of bamboo species can be used as building materials. Most are easily found in warm, humid tropics and temperate climates, including Southeast Asia, where bamboo is one of the most popular building materials.

The popularity of bamboo has led to the development of bamboo craft techniques unique to each region. Each community group develops its own building techniques based on the knowledge and skills acquired and passed down from generation to generation, in turn creating a bamboo tradition.

Unfortunately, bamboo is a perishable building material. The hot and humid climate causes bamboo buildings to rot quickly, while attracting certain insects that favor the plant. As a result, bamboo is often considered an inexpensive material, which is only suitable for semi-permanent houses and buildings for low-income people.

For this reason, bamboo has slowly been phased out after the introduction of materials considered to be better and more durable. Brick, steel, glass, and other modern materials have largely replaced bamboo as the most popular for buildings, and it is increasingly difficult to see mass developments using bamboo as the primary material.

Therefore, traditional techniques and the art of building bamboo also disappear with each new development.

Yet bamboo will never run out as long as it remains planted and growing, unlike other materials that need to be made. What’s more, planting bamboo also means reducing carbon emissions caused by industries that process modern building materials, while being affordable for low-income people.

With the myriad of benefits of bamboo, innovative efforts are needed to incorporate the plant as a contemporary building material. Some architects are actively involved in efforts to restore bamboo for construction, including erasing its image as a material for the poor.

Contemporary architects working with bamboo include Vo Throng Nghia in Vietnam, Realrich Syarief and Eko Prawoto in Java, as well as several young architects in Bali, who have successfully challenged the stigma of bamboo as a material associated with social housing in the using in projects such as hotels, villas, gyms and conference rooms, including temporary pavilions at the 2015 World’s Fair.

Particularly in Bali, bamboo has enjoyed new popularity over the past two decades. Designer Linda Garland, who criticized conventional building methods which she saw as unfriendly to the environment, became one of the pioneers in the growing popularity of bamboo, helping to make bamboo a fashionable material in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Garland started out by building his own house using bamboo as the main material, which followed with many orders for bamboo-centric designs, counting names like David Bowie and Richard Branson among his clients. After Garland passed away in 2017, designer Elora Hardy continues Garland’s legacy by using bamboo as a building material through IBUKU, the design company she founded in 2010.

With the renewed emphasis on sustainability, restaurants, schools, villas, cafes, and even homes using bamboo materials are now easier to find, and bamboo structures can be seen along major roads, near the beach and especially in areas on the edge of dense areas. forests.

Bamboo use is no longer confined to the homes of low-income families. Aesthetic elements are starting to be taken into consideration alongside the structural design. The bamboo building shape no longer requires a rectangular floor plan with a pyramid roof, and the size can extend far beyond traditional buildings of the past. Bamboo buildings are now constructed with modern techniques, some incorporating support from metal joints.

But construction techniques without metal support have also developed rapidly. According to award-winning architect Widhi Nugroho, there are several connection techniques, such as whole bamboo joints, different from bamboo joints that have been split or shaped into bamboo sticks.

Each method has advantages and uses in construction. For example, more complicated connections with sticks allow the bamboo building to be as complex as the desired design, thus requiring additional construction effort.

The latest bamboo construction techniques allow for the creation of a unique space, able to accommodate larger rooms with wider spans and taller roofs. Some find that the experience of entering a space created with bamboo is unique, as if it were surrounded by a forest inside a building.

The growing popularity of bamboo has generated many admirers, with Hardy’s studio nurturing young talent. Many of these young architects and designers have been hired by clients in the tourism industry, interested in capturing the public’s interest through the unique experience of living in a bamboo building. This new generation of designers has attracted new students, eager to deepen their understanding of bamboo architecture, who are also pursuing bamboo research.

This research also consists of extracting traditional construction techniques to be applied in modern construction. Local craftsmanship is considered to bring a strong sense of value, which sets it apart from other construction methods.

Building using traditional techniques can help locals find employment at a time when almost all building materials are produced by machines. After rediscovering the economic benefits of bamboo, it is hoped that bamboo will be replanted, thus helping to maintain the environment, culture, as well as economic prosperity.

With the aim of increasing interest in the study of traditional bamboo building skills, the Architecture Studies Program of the Faculty of Engineering and Planning at Warmadewa University, in collaboration with the Nansha Birdpark in Guangzhou, China, is holding an international bamboo design and construction competition for students.

The competition is divided into two levels, the first stage being a national level. Two winners of this level are sent to the next stage of the competition involving several Asian countries. This competition is expected to increase interest in bamboo and traditional building techniques suitable for contemporary construction, with the 2021 competition marking its fourth event.

Organizing a bamboo-focused competition at the student level is an investment in the future of bamboo construction. If students already have a high level of interest, bamboo should be the applied construction choice in their future careers. The growing popularity of bamboo can then encourage the public to return to bamboo cultivation, thereby helping the environment to stay green.


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