Environmental concerns about deforestation and sustainability have positioned bamboo as a serious competitor to timber in today’s construction industry.
While Australian projects have not completely explored bamboo’s full capability, the ancient construction material has been used throughout much of the world and particularly in Asia, and is just now being recognised for its incredible strength and green credentials.
Beyond energy efficiency and water conservation, bamboo is set to revolutionise the building industry as it provides a sustainable foundation for projects whether it be a modest residential house frame to supporting skyscrapers.
Japan has been using bamboo for centuries for industrial scaffolding. Although bamboo is a lightweight material, once cured, it can be stronger than some forms of steel and is known to have greater compression strength than concrete. Its durability and longevity, particularly in flooring, make it a material of choice.
Bamboo’s most appealing quality is its rate of productivity and annual harvest cycle. It is the fastest growing renewable resource with the potential to grow up to 20 times faster than some hardwood trees. Its growth rate can range from 30 to 100 centimetres in just 24 hours, giving bamboo plants the ability to completely mature in only five years and be harvested without damaging the plant for future growth.
Bamboo is a flexible material and is growing in popularity for an industry and world concerned with “green living.” With many creative uses, designers and architects are experimenting with bamboo in both the commercial and domestic markets across flooring, wall paneling and kitchens.
As bamboo grows well in tropical climates, it is resistant to moisture and stains, making it the perfect material to be used in wet areas such as bathrooms and laundries where timber isn’t always suitable.
Countries like Columbia, Costa Rica and Bali have experimented with bamboo constructions to demonstrate that it can withstand earthquakes and eliminate damage with its shock absorption properties.
Costa Rica is currently committed to building 6,000 homes a year from Guadua bamboo that has only been grown eight years ago. These houses will be less likely to suffer earthquake damage like steel and concrete buildings.
Beyond construction use, bamboo supports the trending connection between fashion and furnishing and is being applied to textiles and upholstery furniture materials for its organic qualities.
Bamboo can also be found in soft furnishing such as carpet, rugs and window furnishings helping designers bring “green” inside that is visually appealing whilst also providing health and environmental benefits.
With its naturally blonde colour, bamboo can easily adapt to any interior colour scheme. It offers a light, minimalistic and natural elegance to interiors and is a popular choice for retail shelves and shop fittings.
Due to its natural qualities, it is still able to exude warmth and timeless appeal much like natural timber, and it can even be heat treated to produce a darker version.
Cost and Maintenance
The cost of bamboo is comparable to – and sometimes significantly lower than – that of hardwood timber. It generally has a better resilience to softer flooring solutions such as vinyl and through quality maintenance, it will mature and offer different hues and grains for a charming finish.
Whether it is used for environmental reasons, for protecting from a natural disaster or simply due to aesthetics and durability, bamboo is an unconventional material worth considering.