Bamboo is a plant with a lot of different uses and its versatility make it a popular option for architects and decorators who are conscious of the environment. It is used for cooking, weaving, furniture making and also in the construction of a house. For instance, it can be used for flooring, pillars, windows or roofing since it protects from the sun and rain. Bamboo has been a popularly used material for housing in South East Asian countries for a long time. You can see a lot of bamboo houses in places like Bali, the Philippines and Thailand. Such bamboo houses are often used for building resorts that exude an exotic charm.
Photo by : Lona on Unsplash
Some people assume that the construction costs for bamboo houses are very low and that their life span is short as well. However, the truth is, if the right kind of bamboo is used and maintained, your bamboo house can last through 40-50 years.
So if you are interested in using bamboo for building a house or even a resort, there is a simple technique for you.
Get to know the different types of bamboo
Bamboo comes in many different types and you need to know which types are suitable for building a house. There are more than 1000 species of it growing around the world but this plant grows best in tropical regions.
Photo by : Eugenie Lai on Unsplash
Phai Khao Lam or Tinwa Bamboo.
The trunk of this bamboo type is used quite commonly. It can be used for building the ceiling of a house, making the roof bolt of the house, weaving caps or for weaving a mat. Such bamboo mats can be used instead of regular rugs or carpets.
Phai Pa or Giant Thorny Bamboo.
This type of bamboo grows very fast and is quite useful. The trunk can be used for making stairs, walls, split bamboo flooring, fences and bamboo rafts. This bamboo plant can also be planted to act as a windproof line.
Phai Po or Giant Bamboo Munro.
This type of bamboo is popular in furniture making. It can be used for making tables, chairs, weaving machinery and bamboo rafts.
Phai Hok or Hamilton’s Bamboo.
This is the most commonly found and used bamboo. The bamboo sheath is often used as a cigarette roll. This bamboo is also used for weaving mats, split bamboo flooring, bamboo rafts, paper making, etc.
Credit : nguoi-noi-tieng
Once you use bamboo as an element in your house, you need to learn about maintaining it so it can last a long time. In the book Bamboo World, certain tips are explained to help you do this.
๐ Firstly, the bamboo which is going to be used to build a house should be matured bamboo. It should be matured for at least 3 years or more since younger bamboo accumulates starch and moisture in its flesh. Young bamboo is also a breeding ground for termites or white ants that penetrate the plant and feed on it when it is ready for sprouting.
๐ Bamboo should be cut during the dry season. Bamboo is more resistant to insects during this time as compared to other seasons. If the bamboo is going to be used for outdoor work, a wood impregnation method should be applied with a wood preservation solution that will make the bamboo more resistant to heat, rain and wind.
In Sutad Dechvisit’s (สุทัศน์ เดชวิสิทธิ์) book “Bamboo Lover’s Book” (ไม้ไผ่ สำหรับคนรักไผ่), you will also learn of another natural way to care for bamboo. There it is stated:
The key principle for the long-lasting preservation of bamboo is the destruction of certain substances that are present in the bamboo shoot. This “meat” of the plant is what most insects feed on and thus might affect the structure the bamboo is used for building. The starch and sugar should be removed to prevent such infestations. This can be done in a few ways:
๐ Soaking bamboo in water. The bamboo can be kept immersed in seawater or fresh water for a period of 3 days to 3 months.
๐ Use of heat or oil extraction from bamboo. This will destroy the food source that insects are attracted to. The bamboo can be brought to a boil in hot water or roasted over the fire. Boiling will soften the bamboo while roasting will make it stronger and more robust.
A certain method for preventing wood termites has been passed down since ancient times. In this method, the whole bamboo is kept soaked in water for 5-7 days until it starts emitting a rotten or bad smell. Once this is done, the bamboo is brought out of the water and kept under the sun or in a dry space for another 5-7 days. This allows the rotten smell to disappear and the bamboo can then be used for whatever purpose required. This treatment helps in preventing termites or insects from infesting the bamboo. It is a natural method where no chemicals are used and this makes it much safer than other methods. Another way to prevent termites is to heat the bamboo trunk until the inner skin is cooked through. A chemical coating on the bamboo surface will then repel any termites from it.
The advantages of building a bamboo house
Credit : shivabamboochickmaker
If you are still not convinced about using bamboo for making your house or resort, consider the following advantages of using this material:
1. Low cost
Traditional houses made of wood, brick or concrete are significantly more expensive to construct as compared to bamboo houses. Although there is a limit on durability, safety and strength to consider, using thick and hard bamboo can help you build long-lasting structures. The house can last for decades if it is built with the right kind of bamboo and maintained well. The costs of the house will depend on the type of bamboo used since some are better and more popular than others. However, most rural people tend to grow the bamboo themselves and then use it. Bamboo is grown commonly in south-east Asian countries because of all its benefits. They use it for cooking as well as building their houses.
2. Airy and cool
Bamboo is a natural material that absorbs heat and allows the house to be cool and well-ventilated. Bamboo is also used for building fences around houses to provide shade and protect from excessive sunlight. This fence acts as a barrier and prevents direct sunlight from reaching the main house and heating it.
3. Furniture making
Not only is bamboo effective for building a house, but it can also be used for making furniture. You can use any leftover bamboo for building chairs, tables, stairs or fences.
Bamboo has many different functions and is very useful. It belongs to the grass family and does not require a lot of maintenance. You can easily grow bamboo to later use for building your home or furniture. It takes around 3 years for the bamboo to grow and the shoots to become strong stems. The bamboo shoot can be used for cooking too.
5. High strength
Some types of bamboo are just as strong as steel and have twice the compression ratio as that of concrete. Which is quite amazing when you consider that bamboo is a type of hollow grass.
For anyone who would like to build their own bamboo house, there is a simple bamboo house design and technique that will be useful :
Bamboo houses are very useful. In addition to making a house with the material, you can also build other structures like your house gate or sheds for cows, buffalos or chickens.
Building a roof with bamboo
Credit : N/A
The bamboo trunk can be cut in half. Using the upside-down method, they can then be put together. The halves can be put upside down alternately till you reach the end of the structure. The bamboo will be more durable if it is soaked in saltwater or brine. It will prevent termite infestation. Lacquer can be used for glazing over the bamboo and this gives it a beautiful glossy appearance while protecting it from rain and heat as well.
Credit : buatmakalah
Let’s look at how bamboo can be assembled or fixed together. This method can be used for building walls, doors, beams and windows. It uses a rope tie as well as drilling. Drilling and using nuts will help in securing the bamboo pieces.
Examples of bamboo structures
Green Village Resort in Bali, Indonesia
Credit : greenvillagebali
Green Village is a sustainable village where bamboo was used for construction by the owner, Elora, who wanted to make bamboo a valuable and high-end product. It was also to create a certain image for this material to make it look cool and innovative. The Green Village Resort used pure craftsmanship to emphasize the modern design and creative architectural structure.
Soneva Kiri by Six Senses in Koh Kood, Trad, Thailand
Credit : chillpainai
It is a six-star luxury hotel that stands out with its modern tropical design which adds a natural ambience with the use of bamboo in its construction and interior decoration. If you look at this hotel, you might consider the fact that Thailand has unique designs that cannot be defeated by other countries from around the world.
The Hut by Sabu-Sabu in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Credit : sabu-sabu
A hut style resort, it uses a lot of bamboos which adds a natural touch to the structure while emphasizing the simple design and the beauty of Thai style decor. This resort is perfect for vacationers and those who like privacy.
Panyaden International School in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Credit : archdaily