Raising Canes: Future Bamboo Cities

Bamboo is fast growing, quickly renewable, low on water consumption, excellent at absorbing carbon and when used in a building, it is between two and three time stronger than a steel beam of comparable weight. It is no surprise that many progressive thinking designers and architects , such as the Vienna and Beijing based architecture firm Penda, envision a future with cities constructed of bamboo.

This year, Penda Architecture & Design unveiled a concept for a modular structure held together with bamboo joints that are each secured with rope. By adding and connecting additional bamboo canes, the structure grows, becoming a stronger system that is able to take on more loads to the building.  At the recent edition of Beijing Design Week, Penda presented a temporary installation of their modular bamboo structure that can easily be assembled and added to (or taken apart and recycled).

Penda believe that this sustainable material construction method could in the future be used to build entire cities, particularly in China where the material has a long tradition. To ensure a steady building material supply, Penda envision that for each bamboo development, a neighbouring bamboo grove is planted.

Following Beijing Design Week, the individual bamboo elements of Penda’s temporary bamboo structure were delivered to another site and bamboo structure in order to expand its size. Located in Anji county, the largest export region for bamboo in the world, the system can grow into a habitat for 20 families within the first 9 months. As the number of inhabitants keeps growing, the structure gets extended to accommodate multiple communal spaces, bridges and even floating structures. By 2023 the bamboo development is extended to an urban configuration, which inhabits a population of 20,000 people and surrounding bamboo grove of 250 acres.

The architects explain that with patient and natural expansion such as this, the project is a true ecological approach to growth as it leaves no harm on the surrounding environment nor on the building material itself. It is therefore a counter-movement to the conventional construction process!

To end, here are some fun bamboo facts:

  • Bamboo matures within 2-6 years, can reach 40 meters in height and can grow up to 1.4 meters per day
  • Bamboo produces up to 35% more oxygen than any other comparable stand of trees, while absorbing an equal amount of carbon dioxide. Furthermore, it  has the ability to purify the air around the soot
  • After harvesting bamboo, it does not need to be replanted, as the root system stays alive and can regrow by itself.