Adriaan Noteboom: Bamboo replaces steel

Today we went up in the Mountains near Tumbaco to an old imploded volcano called Ilalo. This is where one of the projects of SELVA takes place. Today we will see a new way of construction that proves that guadua-bamboo is just as strong as steel. So bamboo can replace steel in some types of constructions. Bamboo is much cheaper and more sustainable. I was very curious because it is hard to believe that bamboo is as strong as steel. To get to that place of this project we had to drive on steep and bumpy roads. While we were driving Pieter Brouwer told us a lot about the landscape we were driving through. Long ago, even before the Incas there lived many communities on the Ilalo, but because of erosion all the trees disappeared and it became a rough volcano landscape.

But since the last 10 years SELVA started to invest in this area. They bought 6 hectares of ground and they started to plant trees and help the people who lived in impoverished houses in this area. Now, after 10 years you could see many trees and much improvement in the living circumstances. The land around a volcano is always very fertile. And under the volcano is a big lake with fresh water, so there are enough facilities to live there.

However, the project we came for was almost on the top and we stopped near a building excavation. On the first sight it looked like WWI was held here because it looked like there were all trenches and tunnels. This is going to be the new headquarter of SELVA. They dug out some corridors, tunnels and rooms. They let it be like that for 10 years to be absolutely sure that it is strong enough and it wouldn’t collapse.

This year they started to make a roof on this all. This is the main part of the project, here is proven that bamboo is such a strong building material. They laid the bamboo over the holes tied very tight to each other. On top of that a plastic sail and some construction steel to strengthen the cement, and on top of that comes 25 cm cement. The constructionsteel is the only steel that’s used in this construction, the rest is all concrete. This 200m² roof is held up by posts also made of bamboo. In this construction much less steel is used compared to normal construction. You get almost the same result, the difference is that you see the bamboo on the ceiling, but you can do everything with it, paint it, polish it or if you don’t like it you can coat it with a little cement and plaster it and it’s just like a normal ceiling. The making of this roof costed 0,01 dollar per m² of materials. There was a smaller part that was already finished and looked very good, better than I expected.

There are many benefits of using bamboo instead of steel, the most important ones are:

–          Guadua bamboo is much cheaper then steel, 4 meters of bamboo is not more expensive then 1 dollar.

–          The iron industry is one of the most polluting of the world, ironproduction causes much CO2 emission, production of bamboo reduces CO2.

–          Bamboo is easy to grow, it grows fast and you can harvest it while it’s still alive and it continuous growing, so you ca produce a lot.

–          18% of worlds fresh water comes out of the Amazon rainforest, bamboo creates fertile ground, so by cultivating bamboo in the Amazonrainforest, the rainforest will be maintained.

So it’s proven that you can reduce the use of steel in a roof construction a lot by using bamboo instead of steel. This is a very sustainable material and it’s much better for the environment. So after this project which proves the strength of bamboo, and after eliminating the thoughts of people who think bamboo is a weak, cheap and old fashioned material, hopefully the use of bamboo in construction will rise.

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~ by FSVSF Admin on 15 September, 2011.

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