Known for its flexibility and impressive strength (with a strength-to-weight ratio that's comparable to steel), and for its ability to speedily replenish itself, bamboo is a renewable material that has been used in clothing and accessories for a while now, as well as in architecture, especially as a locally sourced material for buildings (even modern ones) in Southeast Asia.
Aiming to showcase the incredible properties of bamboo, Italian design studio Luca Poian Forms created Camboo, a proposal for a centrepiece pavilion to be located in Freedom Park in the capital of Phnom Penh, for the Building Trust’s International Bamboo Festival. It may be unbuilt, but there's some fascinating concepts behind the design, as the creators explain:
[O]ur proposal utilizes mathematical concepts to express the tectonic qualities of bamboo grid-shell structures. Inspired by Frei Otto’s soap film experiments with minimal surfaces as well as Felix Candela’s works with complementary hypar shell structures, our design explores innovative uses of bamboo by understanding its mechanical and structural properties, and modulating the material to conform to the geometry of an Enneper minimal surface to produce a self-supported structural system.
The structure has an undulating rim made out of bamboo planks. Three types of beams, oriented toward each axis, meet at the centre of the structure. The computer-aided design has a "grid-shell" pattern, derived from the trajectory of the main stresses that the structure experiences from gravity. In this way, the structure's stiffness is increased, and shear forces are eliminated, while producing a form that looks quite sculptural, yet also respects and utilizes low-key local building traditions.
There's even a nod to Cambodian crafts and ancient Buddhist deities:
As an architectural object, our proposal is infused with multiple references to Cambodian iconography and arts and crafts tradition. The bent bamboo grid-shell structure and the textured surface of the split bamboo roofing are reminiscent of traditional weaving traditions, whilst the undulating arches produced by the Enneper surface echo the radiating arms of Prajnaparamita, as depicted in ancient Khmer period iconography.
Even if it's just a proposal, there's something tantalizing about how local materials, low-tech techniques and local building traditions can be combined with computer-aided design and mathematical principles, to come up with something quite beautiful. To see more, visit Designboom and Luca Poian Forms.