Bamboo is an exceptional material. It can grow in almost any climate, but it is native to the tropical and sub-tropical areas. Although it is a very light material, bamboo is stronger than steel in tension, and more resistant than concrete in compression. Bamboo can be used at any stage of its growth, from early stages as a food, paper, and clothes, to its later stages for furniture, scaffolding, and finally as a building material.
As a plant, bamboo has remarkable ecological properties. It grows naturally without requiring fertilizers or pesticides, and it can capture carbon from the atmosphere and release 35% more oxygen than equivalent stand of trees. Additionally, because of its high nitrogen consumption, bamboo roots help mitigate water pollution by removing toxins from contaminated soil. And because bamboo regenerates within only two to three years - compared to trees that can take up to 10-20 years - it can serve as an alternative material to wood. In addition to its unique material characteristics, bamboo performs exceptionally well and survives under extreme conditions, such as fire, earthquake, cyclone, and even nuclear blasts, but also has the ability to prevent earth erosion, water run off, and mud slides.
But above all, bamboo is a highly sustainable material, not only because of its exceptional ecological properties, but also due to its socio-economic value. Because of its rapid growth, harvesting bamboo can be quite frequent and the return on investment comes much quicker. As a result, bamboo plantation projects are economically more appealing especially for farmers with little capital. In addition to that, because of its lightness and ease of handling, bamboo can serve as a social agent in creating jobs and empowering women in under-served communities.
Today, the complex nature of our problems – climate change, scarcity of our resources, and rapid urbanization - require a transdisciplinary approach. We need to re-think housing models, neighborhood typologies, energy and infrastructure, mobility and transportation, and finally building materials and construction technologies. In fact the building and construction industry is a major contributor to climate change and a key player in sustainable development. According to the International Energy Agency, buildings account for up to 40 percent of the total consumption of energy. But oftentimes a small-scale change, such as exploring materials and construction technologies, can have a larger impact on potentially addressing some of the pressing issues of our time.
Despite all this, we still know relatively very little about bamboo. There are over 1500 species of bamboo worldwide, yet the theoretical knowledge and practical application of bamboo have largely remained localized and have not been disseminated. Our research presents itself as a guidebook, which would provide the basic introduction to using bamboo, and combines the contemporary knowledge on plantation, harvesting, treatment, and handling of bamboo, together with its application in construction and design industry. “BAMBOOKLET” promotes the application of bamboo as an ecological as well as a socio-economic agent for sustainable development in low-income communities worldwide.