AR House 2014 Highly Commended: The prototype for H&P’s Bamboo Home reconceptualises vernacular technologies for the present day to create a simple and inventive flood-resistant dwelling
Strong, light and geographically abundant, bamboo is an infinitely versatile yet still underexploited building material. Easy to plant and cultivate, it grows with astonishing rapidity. Bamboo canes reach sufficient maturity to be used in construction after only five to eight years, compared with timber, which takes between 25 and 50 years to mature. Across Asia, bamboo is used for buildings, furniture, paper, medicines, musical instruments and food. ‘We can live without meat, but without bamboo we die,’ Confucius once observed.
Its potential is explored in this prototypical project for a modular, flood-resistant bamboo house in Vietnam where around 500 people are killed in inundations each year. The basic module is 3.3 x 6.6m and modules are simply bolted and bound together to form the structure. Walls are infilled with local materials such as bamboo wattle, fibreboard and coconut leaves.
The straightforward construction process enables users to assemble a single house in 25 days and the aim is to mass-produce the system, reducing costs to an estimated $2,500 per unit. To repel floodwater, the structure is elevated above the ground on stumpy pilotis. The architects calculate that it can withstand a 1.5m high flood and are experimenting with a version that could resist up to 3m.
In form, spirit and materials, this inventive prototype mines the potential of vernacular technology, reconceptualising it for the present day. Through projects such as these, bamboo is being gradually liberated from the stigma of ‘poor man’s wood’, generating holistic, sustainable architecture that resonates intimately with culture, place and human need.
Blooming Bamboo Home
Architect: H&P Architects
Photographs: Courtesy of the architects