What can I build with bamboo?

April Kennedy April Kennedy
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Bamboo grows at rates of about five feet a day and is easily the cheapest and most popular building material used in rural areas of South East Asia. It's this widespread prevalence that has led many urban dwellers to see it as the poor man's timber and favour other, more fashionable materials.

But bamboo is becoming popular with urban dwellers again. Bamboo workmanship has come a long way from the traditional pole designs of older style huts and furniture. These days, it's recognised for it's incredibly environmentally friendly qualities. Varnished bamboo floors are particularly popular in North America while European furniture makers have adapted this material in surprising ways. As a result, there are more sophisticated processing options and finishes available than ever before.

So have a look at these 6 different tips for using bamboo and get inspired!

Advantages and disadvantages

mediterranean Garden by Gullaksen Architects
Gullaksen Architects

Moroccan style garden

Gullaksen Architects

While bamboo has a reputation for being very cheap, the disadvantages of this material can easily be controlled by spending a little more on the right quality of bamboo. Some species of untreated bamboo may only last up to two years. If the bamboo is cut at the wrong stage of growth, it will have a high sugar content that will attract insects as well. So it's best to buy bamboo that's around six years old when the sugar content is at its lowest and this means paying more.

But the advantages of using the right kind of bamboo really do outweigh the disadvantages. High quality bamboo is still relatively cheap. Once it's properly treated and laminated it can be an incredibly durable material that will far outlast cheaper timbers. Some bamboo products are even said to be three times sturdier than oak hardwood. But the real advantage contemporary builders love is its flexibility. This gives a builder with the right kind of experience an enormous amount of flexibility in the design.

Structural Potential

modern Living room by Bo Reudler Studio
Bo Reudler Studio

Bamboo Windsor series

Bo Reudler Studio

The sight of Hong Kong construction workers scrambling over bamboo scaffolding while working on huge skyscrapers is undeniable proof of the structural strength of this material. What's not always known amongst modern builders is how to best use bamboo. Traditionally, builders stripped, boiled and heated this flexible material into shape. 

These days there are companies who can train bamboo to grow into flat or curved pieces to suit new building designs. This really opens up the potential of using bamboo in contemporary, design. This set of furniture by Dutch designers Bo Reudler Studio really shows how the flexible qualities of this hardy material can be shaped into products a world away from the bamboo furniture of yesteryear.

Shade from the heat

 Corridor, hallway by Engel & Völkers Bodrum
Engel & Völkers Bodrum

Engel & Völkers Bodrum

Engel & Völkers Bodrum

A woven bamboo ceiling as seen here creates a lightweight, summery feel to a pergola or outdoor space. Light can filter through while heavy rainfalls are mostly deflected. But one advantage that's not always appreciated, is the lightweight quality of bamboo. This means that it will be cheap to transport and you won't need cranes and heavy machinery to put the roof into place. 

Bamboo Walls

The sheer variety of bamboo species means that you can achieve almost any look you're after in a bamboo wall. Some bamboo can even be cut and stained to look like regular wood. Here in this bathroom, we can see how bamboo panels have been used as a decorative addition to the regular walls. They are woven together and stripped so they're quite narrow. At the same time, the gentle accent lighting and minimal decorations work together to give this bathroom a cool sophisticated look. The end result is a bathroom that resembles a high-class spa room.

Flooring and Cladding potential

It might be hard to believe, but this gorgeous golden wood toned floor and kitchen are made of treated bamboo. The great advantages discussed earlier, means that this incredible material can be used both internally and externally. One important factor that should be considered is that bamboo tends to deteriorate in wet conditions if it's not treated properly.

Bamboo furniture

asian Bedroom by Woodquail
Woodquail

Bamboo Table Lamp

Woodquail

For our final tip, we have a unique bedroom lamp by English designers Woodquail. The soft flowing shape of the base shows how the flexibility of this material can be creatively utilised in contemporary design. This sleek look is sure to finally dispel any lingering ideas about bamboo being old-fashioned!

If you are interested in bamboo, you might also like Bamboo furniture and accessories!

Would you consider using bamboo in your home? We'd love to hear in the comments below!
modern Houses by Casas inHAUS

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