A Case for Bamboo in the US





Bamboo is typically associated with tropical climates.  It has been used by indigenous people as for both its inexpensive and renewable nature as well as to build luxury hotel rooms in the Maldives.  Columbian architect has inspired many to use bamboo as he has developed joinery techniques that add to bamboos beauty and durability.  Thus far, bamboo has neglected to be considered as a building material in the US.  However, the sustainability and strength of bamboo suggests that it should be reevaluated for use as a primary building component.

Structural Properties

Bamboo has a compressive strength greater than that of concrete and a long-span capacity.  Its hollow form naturally makes it a highly efficient bearing material since there is no dead weight.  The strength of bamboo’s fiber varies by species, but the strongest of which are greater than any structural wood.  Ironically, the deflection coefficient of bamboo makes it unsuitable for flooring as most people do not feel secure walking on a “live” floor.  However, the most common use of bamboo in the western world is its use as a flooring material.


Bamboo is both renewable and abundant.  It is a common misconception that bamboo cannot be grown in the US.  The Phyllostachys species of bamboo is the answer to the US climate as it can tolerate periods of frost and grows 12-18 inches a day at maturity.  They reach their full structural capabilities after 3 years.  Due to their quick maturation this species is highly renewable,  plentiful and with a little forethought also local.

These are just a few of the reasons that bamboo should be reconsidered as a building material by western architects and in case you are not convinced I thought I would leave with a few images of inspiring projects.




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