The gorgeous Heart of School building (pictured left) at Bali, Indonesia’s Green School campus is an example of the possibilities bamboo provides as a building material for creative, sustainable structures. It is just one of the incredible bamboo buildings at the Green School, featured in our book.
(We ran out of room to put this accompanying piece in the published book– which ended up being over 350 pages and is currently at press, due to be released Feb 25.)
by Louis Fox
Part of the grass family, some bamboos can grow almost 4 feet a day, making it one of the fastest-growing organisms on the planet. Well beyond just a visually appealing building material, Bamboo embodies the essential permaculture principle of stacking functions (also known as integrate rather than segregate), perhaps better than any other plant:
• its leaves are a high-quality forage for livestock
• its shoots are delicacy enjoyed by humans
• it provides excellent erosion control because of its extensive interlocking rhizomes or root systems
• it is a highly renewable building material, that can be grown on-site by the builder, requiring only 3 years to mature for harvest as timbers
• it is an extremely strong building material; with twice the compressive strength of concrete and about the same strength-to-weight ratio of steel in tension
• it creates a quickly established wind-break
• it helps in bio-remediation of both soil and water
• it provides excellent carbon sequestration—the Zero Emissions Research Institute reports that a bamboo forest can sequester seventeen times as much carbon as a typical tree forest.
Given all of these benefits, it’s easy to understand why bamboo is an essential building material for permaculturists in tropical climates.