BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE WORLD: LIFE IN THE BALANCE
was an international competition announced June 2006 with
a February 2007 deadline. Sixty five submissions were registered
which encompassed over 170 people working individually or
in teams including architects, city planners, engineers, students
and designers from 18 different countries - Australia, Belgium,
Brazil, Canada, China, China-Hong Kong, Fiji, France, Germany,
Greece, India, Iran, Ireland, italy, Japan, Spain, Thailand,
U.K. and the U.S. This was not a simple competition - it required
deep thinking, intricate analysis, careful consideration regarding
future generations - understanding the effects our actions
today will have upon tomorrow, caring for our resources and
beauty in the world, dealing with shifts in weather patterns
which will affect agriculture - in short - the creation of
a non-toxic environment that nurtures nature as well as ourselves.
To read more about the competition please visit our Competitions
To see the entries please click here
First Prize for $10,000 was awarded to a team from Fiji,
Toby Kyle, Chris Cole and Kamineli Vuadreu.
Their project, Sustainable Urban Housing in Fiji Ė Vakabauta
Village, focuses on the needs of low-income Fijians living
in dilapidated temporary housing in Suva, the countryís capital.
The design concept addresses global problems with local solutions,
including growing bamboo within the village to green and rejuvenate
the site and create revenue opportunities for residents. The
team drew on traditional Fijian values such as working together
and sharing resources, to create a model sustainable urban
community relevant not only to Fiji but to many developing
Pacific nations that are likely to be particularly hard hit
by the effects of climate change.
Text on Bamboo Ė 4th October 2007
BAMBOO Ė A sustainable resource.
Core to our Vakabauta Village scheme is the growing, harvesting,
treating and selling of bamboo on site. We identified bamboo
as a core component of our design proposal for the sheer diversity
of uses it can be applied to and for the opportunities it
creates. It is a material that has been used extensively in
Asia for many hundreds of years in the constructions of buildings
and everyday items for living. It has also been used in Fiji
and other areas of the South Pacific, but to a lesser degree.
Bamboo as building material.
Bamboo is a fast growing grass that can be harvested every
3-5 yrs. It is a durable and dimensionally stable material
and the yield is up to 25 times higher than that of timber.
It has a 10-30% annual increase in biomass versus 2-5% for
trees, creating greater yields of raw material for use. In
addition, Bamboo has a tensile strength that rivals steel
and weight-to-strength ratio surpassing that of graphite,
making it a very attractive building material in itís natural
The main draw back of the material is itís susceptibility
to mould and insect attack. Bamboo acts like a straw, sucking
water up in to its hollow structure. However it has a natural
wax like finish to itís skin and it is relatively easy to
protect the inside of the bamboo with organic treatments.
These can be applied in a low-tech and non-toxic manor, making
it suitable for use in developing regions.
In itís raw form bamboo can be used as the structure of a
building; it can be split and used as roofing tiles; woven
strands can be used as wall cladding. In more recent times
bamboo, woven and stranded bamboo has been pressed together
with glue to create a ply sheet suitable in itís simplest
form for concrete shuttering and at itís finest a replacement
Bamboo as craft.
In itís raw form, bamboo is a material that readily lends
itself to a low skilled labour force. It requires only simple
tools to work and simple technology to join. Mugs, mats and
furniture can be crafted with few tools. It is this simplicity
that makes it a very relevant material for use in developing
countries. With few tools required makes bamboo can be quickly
grown and provide a source or raw material for craftsmen to
produce wares to sell.
Helping to create a source of income is a critical part of
a sustainable community that is able to interact with the
Bamboo as a positive carbon footprint.
Bamboo is an extremely efficient replenisher of fresh air.
It is the fastest growing canopy for the regreening of degraded
areas and generates up to 35% more oxygen than equivalent
stand of trees. These impressive statistics mean that bamboo
gives it a positive carbon footprint, helping to off set carbon
used in construction or living.
Bamboo in the landscape.
As a fast growing plant, it is possible to grow bamboo in
the landscape to help provide screening and virtually instant
greenery. However, bamboo has qualities beyond this that help
rejuvenate bad soil conditions.
Bamboo is a grass and as such grows not just upwards, but
outwards. New shoots sprout from the roots to create a new
Ďclumpí, creating a network of interconnected plants. This
network helps bond the earth and reduce the potential for
essential topsoil to be washed away in big rains. In addition
to this, the root network can help stabilize areas of earth
prone to slippage.
While the roots hold the existing top soil in place, the relative
high rate of leaf shedding helps create new layers of nutrient
rich top soil. Bamboo can be used as a useful temporary planting
to help improve soil quality for alternative planting. Particularly
useful in contaminated urban sites.
With these diverse applications, bamboo provides for virtually
every stage of the building making it a very attractive material
for use in construction.
Text: Toby Kyle