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Strong, light, cheap: bamboo sheds image as poor man's timber - Light Steel Structure Villa by e55he swrzsnb

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Strong, light, cheap: bamboo sheds image as poor man's timber - Light Steel Structure Villa by
Article Posted: 12/02/2013
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Strong, light, cheap: bamboo sheds image as poor man's timber - Light Steel Structure Villa

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Strong, light and cheaper than steel poles, bamboo is ubiquitousacross Asia as scaffolding. So much so that in recognition of the material's versatility, theIndonesian island of Bali has made it an emblem of sustainableconstruction, replacing buildings of concrete and steel with fargreener alternatives. An entire school, luxury villas and even a chocolate factory arethe latest structures to rise from bamboo skeletons as the plant'sgreen credentials and strength are hailed. The factory, which opened last year and produces organic drinkingchocolate and cocoa butter, is the latest in a string of buildingson the island, including homes and businesses, to be built ofbamboo. Erected in the village of Sibang Kaja between the resort island'ssmoggy capital Denpasar and the forests of Ubud, the factory is theinitiative of specialty food firm Big Tree Farms, which claims the27,500-square-foot facility is the biggest commercial bam-boobuilding in the world.

"Bamboo is unmatched as a sustain-able building material. What itcan do is remarkable," Big Tree Farms co-founder Ben Ripple, 37,said. "It grows far more quickly than timber and doesn't destroy the landit's grown on," said Ripple, an American from Connecticut. "Ourfactory can be packed up and moved in days, so if we decided toshut it down one day, we're not going to damage the rice paddies wesit on." The 100 hectares of paddies sit inside a so-called "bambootriangle," with the factory, school and villas standing at each ofthe three points.

Such ambitious bamboo projects in Bali are mostly driven byeco-conscious foreigners. With studies showing construction to be one of the world's leastsustainable industries - eating up around half of the globe'snon-renewable resources - sustainable construction is slowly takingroot around the world. It is among the key topics for discussion at the Rio+20 UnitedNations Conference on Sustainable Development, which opens June 20in Rio de Janeiro. In Sibang, the tawny brown bamboo buildings with their grassthatched roofs appear to be rising from the earth. The three-storey chocolate factory is pieced together using acomplex system of scissor trusses and bolts, thanks to cleverarchitecture.

It resembles the traditional long-houses found on Borneo island andwas made with more than 18,000 metres of bamboo from Bali and Java. At Sibang's nearby Green School, the 240 students - most of themchildren of expatriates - learn in semi-out-door classrooms deckedwith bamboo furniture. The school, which opened in 2008 and was the magnet for the othertwo projects, has 25 bamboo buildings, the main one being astilt-structure constructed with 2,500 bamboo poles, or culms. "In Hong Kong and China, they make new skyscrapers of concrete andglass using bamboo scaffolding.

But here, the workmen stood onsteel scaffolding to build this bamboo building. That's alwaysseemed funny to me," said Green School admissions head Ben Macrory."In most parts of Asia, bamboo is seen as the poor man's timber.".
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