Bamboo buildings - any thoughts?

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I'm working on a design for a glass piece and was searching for Bamboo pics, and came across a few links to Bamboo Buildings, and related design innovations. Since sustainable architecture has been a topic here, I thought I'd post a couple links that I found interesting:
http://www.ursispaltenstein.ch/blog/weblog.php?/weblog/comments/3419 / http://www.bamboocompetition.com / http://www.bambooliving.com / http://www.bambootechnologies.com/bbhomes.htm
I know that, in the tropics, huts and scaffolding are commonly built of bamboo because it's plentiful there (esp. teh large species), but I've never thought of it as something to use for other (as in, more "wester") types of housing.
Some of the buildings are interesting, but I'm wondering whether there is data re: whether bamboo building methods could be adapted to cooler climates.
- Kris
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Hi Kris,
Yeah, strength to weight ratio is good. Not expected to last long of course, and difficult to treat. We have a stand in the back yard. Goes on growing, never gets irrigation. This is the 'dry' tropics, and the soil is poor - saltpan clay with dune sand and shale underneath. We keep it because it looks nice - a little bit of "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon". I've tested it with the local termites and as expected they go straight up the interior hollow cores. Spectacular in a fire - if the segments haven't already split, they explode. People next door burnt some once and the police were called - gunshots reported from up to 2km away :-)
Here in Oz it's reprocessed into flooring boards, but I am yet to be convinced. Costs a bomb and is not particularly durable - easily damaged by stiletto heels and the like.
Cheers
troppo19 aka Martin Clark http://people.aapt.net.au/jclark19 /
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Inknow that the exterior surface is very hard, but I geuss that it's low permeability doesn't translate to longevity as a structural element... OTOH, tho', isn't exposed wood pretty much the same? What would the situation be if giant bamboos (some of them develop a dimaeter greater than that of most of the wood I've seen used for building houses...) were usedto replace teh "stick" part in "stick built" houses? Being protected by sheating and so on, would it not last as long as wood? Or is the main probelm that it can't take nails, or some other quirk of the material?
Babmoo grows so much faster than trees that it seems <?> like it ought to be a potential material that could ease some of the stress placed upon forests.

For the yard, yeah, I have some Clumping Bamboo myself, one only gets to about 15' (about 4.75m??) tall and the other about 25' tall. If I had a large yard, I'd go for some of the ones that get twice as tall (or more). Fr a yard/garden, I like the movement and sound of it - even the slightest breeze can set ti off. ((For similar reasons, I also have soem tall, glaucous cultivars of native Switch Grass - the foliage alon is, so far this year, about 6.5'.)) Mine have yellow stems, which I don't liek a lot in and of themselves (I lean towards silvers, blues, greys, and whites), but the most attractive (IMO ;) ) bamboos get way too large for my lot :(

What if the bottoms were set into cement or otherwise sealed? Can the termites still chew easily through the outside? Can they get through it more easily than they can get through wood?

Well, I hope that is neve tested in my yard =:-o

THat sort of product is also in the US. I'd've considered it, had it been an option (I don't wear, or permit, shoes in the house, so heels of any sort aren't a problem) but it wasn't an option. I haven't looked at many prices, butI'm not sure that, locally at least, it's more expensive than hardwood or laminate flooring, tho' I'd have to check. THe otehr aspect, tho', is that it wouldn't really fit in well with the "neo- pseudotraditional-pseudocontemporary-mishmash" that nearly all houses these days seem to be. I prefer something that's more creative, but there's little, if any, land near any sort of employment (or grocery, or hospital, or so on) which hasn't been bought up by developers. WHich is a differnt issue, of course...
But looking at how places are built, I have to wonder whetehr large- diameter bamboo might not be a possible replacement for, or adjunct to, standard building wood? Maybe the joining methods are problematic? I don't know whetehr bamboo can withstand being nailed or even screwed.
- Kris
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Never actually tried connecting bamboo structures together other than by the traditional method, eg vine lashing. This is time-consuming even if the vine is plentiful, but helps to prevent splitting, provides a torsion joint etc.

It's not that hard to make durable particle board out of sugar cane residue (bagass). Just requires a bit of natural or synthetic rubber, a small amount of tepol and a press. So bamboo has to have potential as a fibre base at least.

Went out to have a look - no, they leave it alone unless there's a split, But the experiment was flawed - there was some untreated pine in the same area, and that's what they prefer. But termites are unpredictable critters. Around here they seem to be able to work through hair-line cracks in concrete slabs. In one case, they went up the frame and ate the paper covering to the gypsum board ceiling. A few years ago they started on the underground electricity cables - main supply stuff out in the road reserve. No issues yet with mass-concrete post bases. With these, they track up the concrete upstand and are easy to see.
The best protection seems to be vigilance, or a drum or two of the stuff you're not supposed to use any more ...

It certainly splits if you hit it with a framing gun, and sometimes the nails shoot off sideways. The bamboo building websites don't seem to show how the stuff is joined together :-)
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I noted what you said below about it slitting under a nail gun, and nails tending to slip and fly off. Now I know ;)
OTOH, maybe strapping...? As you noted, those websites (with the bamboo buildings) didn't seem to go into the joining methods.

They do make fabric out of it, as with wood. It's very soft to the touch, not as sticky in humidity as silk, much more supple than linen. I assume there are also bamboo-based paper products. Versatile stuff.

Them and ants. They don't know enough to give up - if one doesn't make it, there are billions more behind it. Termites and ants are also significant pests here (Gulf Coast area).

Oh, joy :p

Seriously.
But, given their difficulties with intact bamboo, it'd be something if it was more adaptable to differnt building techniques. I guess it's alerady been well-researched.

Too bad :(
I'll try to remember to look into it more - it's IMO an interesting idea.
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OTOH I'm a bit of a worry with a nail gun. Shot myself twice so far, fortunately only with brads.

So I did a Google search - "joints in bamboo"
http://www.emissionizero.net/Prospettive_-_Our_plans_for_the_future_-_ (ENG)_BAMBOO_JOINTS.html [messy link] University of Florence - bamboo joint research
http://www.staff.city.ac.uk/earthquakes/Bamboo/Bamboo.htm Shows the whole process - Indian technique. City University London. Some fairly heavy construction, eg reo stirrups mortared into the voids, bamboo as permanent formwork.
http://bambus.rwth-aachen.de/eng/fr_referate.html University of Aachen. Several pdf files
There's some fairly elaborate joints, but some that look do-able, eg making the connectors out of short bits of hardwood, stiffening the hollows where bolts go through, and if in doubt - bog it. My kind of building :-)

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No one is apparently thinking about Japanese timber bamboo and other types actually regularly used for building..
Troppo wrote:

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That sounds like something I'd do =:-o
I haven't yet graduated beyond a staple gun ;) Haven't done anything so large that I couldn't use a plain hammer, esp. with the mucked up wrist - I leave that to the pros ;)

THose are all cool links, thanks! I hadn't searched that ebcasue I'm still up to my ears obsessing over trying to learn enough electronics to build a new kind of solar-recharged garden/yard/tabletop LED lamp - I've gotten into doing the stained-glass (I mentioned that some time back IIRC) and am building a large-ish (8"X8" and 10.5" tall) item as my Prototype - I sarted off with only a small amount of very vague information (on the level of "resistors rest; capacitors store"), so I've been puring through books an donline-resources, as well as tech datasheets for all sorts of components, and I got to where I'm listing all the required components so I can order them (like, two of each ;) ) and try to build the actualy prototype light.
To quote monty Python: "My brain hurts!" <LOL!>
So, I didn't get to search - but I saved your links to my desktop for later perusal, ebcasue I think that this is an interesting idea, using Bamboo for building. Some fo the designs are way cool, others are tidy little cottages, and I'm interested in seeing the entire spectrum from one to the other.
((I'm generally interested in modern adaptations of ancient materials.))

"Bog it"? Is that like "making it up as I go along"? <g!>

As a person who tends to hypercomplexificationalize(R) things, I can vouch that there is much to be said for occasionally stepping back from over-engineering <L!>
ANyhoo, thanks for those links, I will go back and read them more closely.
For now, off to Digikey.com before I forget what I was up to ;)
- Kris
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I muck about with stained glass, Kris. Are you using copper foil or lead came? Post a link to some pictures of the stuff you're doing.
R
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I took a class in copper foil recently, and decided that it suits me better than does lead came, mostly because I tend to perfer more "fussy" work (the first class I took, back in 1993 or therabouts, was Lead Came).
Pics - yikes, I have to upload my whole website still - I keep getting sidetracked. OTOH, so far, I don't have a lot to put up in terms of the glass. I like doing it a lot and fully intend to get my work rate up to where I can sell some things, but I first have to get my grinder-station up and running (I have to build a small "enclosure" to control the splatter, because I don't have a studio space I can mess up ;) ) and I've been sidetracked by the SOlar Light part. I've polled several people and potential sales venues, and *all* had a big complaint about how dim solar lights are - at least, the commercially available ones. SO I've been studying up one electronics, and looking into all sorts of parts and techniques, so as to get to where I could design and build a prototype High Brightness solar-charged battery-powered light (i.e. giving off about the same amount of light as eitehr a 20-25 watt incandescent (small fixture) or a 40 watt incandescent (larger fixture or colored class) (currently tryign clear textured).
THat being said, once I get some photos online, I'll let you all know <G!>
Stylistically, I prefer what I call "stylized realism" - I work on getting the overall identifiers corrrect in terms of shape/proportions, and how the subject interacts with gravity, but done so in a a pen'n'ink/Japanese print sort of way.
How about yours - copper foil or lead came? Design style, subject preference, etc.? Photos?
- K.
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wrote:

This spring I designed a showcase for antique goblets and dishes to be placed in a window on Beacon Hill. The shop keeper wanted exceptional LED lighting, but there was very little space. The electrician purchased 3 LED "puck type" battery powered lamps (about $20 each), and rewired them to a light actuated switch. Those lights are plenty bright! Shop owner uses rechargeable AA batterys, which last about 2 weeks to a month (depending on the season) and get changed when the display is changed. The whole system materials cost less than $100. Now if you could hitch those rechargeables to a solar charger, such as is sold for recharging i-pods, you would have a good system. Think outside the box! EDS

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wrote:

I looked int those - great item, but IIRC they draw too much power for what I'm trying to do. But LED brightsness has gotten impressive overall!
Now, you can even get what's called "warm white", but I haven't seen a Warm White that also pumps out lotsa Lumens.

So far, I've collected three "example application circuits" from the Maxim website (I suppose one could make some sort fo case for this being at least *sorta* related to things architectural <g!>): - how to use 2 ICs (MAX866 and MAX to generate 5V from low-voltage Solar Cells - using a battery pack controller DS2715 (between the above, and the batteries) to charge from 1 to 10 NiMH AA batteries (I chose NiMH becaus ethey're readily available, less susceptable to "memory effect" than NiCads, and *much* l;ess expensive than Li-Ion) - using an LED driver (MAX1848) to drive four or six whte LEDs (non-Puck, just the regular 3.2V-3.4V, 20 or so mA types).
OTOH, I got the thought a couple days ago that maybe I need to look for "Solar Christmas Lights"...<L!>
The main "catches" in what I want to do are: (1) I want to crank out as many lumens as possible (since all the potential customers etc. polled, including myself!, have all complained about the dimness of existing solar lights), whit itself could be solved (possibly) by adapting a Solar Christmas Light string; and The Biggie, (2) I want to be able to charge the batteries as fast as possible from the solar cells, the reason being that current lights are pretty much dependent upon receiving a good 8 hours of bright.clear sunlight, which just doesn't cut the mustard if the weather is not perfectly clear, and/or the days are shorter (as in, during Winter); and (3) I'm trying to keep the cost down (not "cheap", just not excessive).
THe problem, of course, is that when I started this project, *ALL* I knew about electronics was that "a resistor constricts energy flow <ahem...>", and "there is some set of formulae that relate volts, amps, resistance, and 'other stuff'..."
IOW, next to Nill =:-o
So I'm trying to design a circuit without really knowing what th eheck I'm doing, because, although I technically "should", I'm not going back to college to try to take a full course in the topic...
So it is, as the saying goes, "a real trip". THe battery-charger circuit is especially troublesome, because the Application Notes describing "typical switchmode appliction for a 3-cell NiMH stack" state that certain resistor, etc., ratings are for 600mA, but the App Note for the "generating 5V" circuit describes the output as being "5V at 500mA", and deos not specify how many mA have to be *input* (tho' it creates those 5V from an input of between 0.8V and 4.5V).
So talk about a "crash course"...especially from someone who barely passed the second semester of Physics, and at that, back in 1979 - Yikes =8-O !
I can't decide whether it's clever, or just plain psychotic <LOL!><LOL!>
Meanwhile, finished INtroductory Glass Fusing/kilnforming. Fascinating, the results can be beautiful in the right hands, but I have a very long way to go (esp. re: my glas scuttign technique) before jumping in to the expense of a kiln - my instructor rents kiln time starting at about $60 per piece, becsue the energy to do it is so expensive, but i might give that a try first - well, after I get better at designing and 'cutting', since designing for hot glass is rather different from designing for copper foil (itself differnt IMO from designing for lead came).
OTOH, if I can actually manage to pull all of this together (Cu foil, fusing, lighting), the possibilities are astounding - I can imagine solar- powered fused-glass installations, for example. Or something like what you described, addin in solar-recharging for those batteries, and incorporating that lighted window feature with various artistic glass techniques... It kinda gets me all sortsa excited <G!>

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I had to buy an air-nailing rig to add plates and strapping to a hardwood frame - part of a wind speed upgrade. The wood had been aging for 50 years and was extremely hard, way above the required stress grade, but the studs were only cross-nailed to the bottom plates. Only 110 psi and hardened nails would do it - pre-drilling would burn the best drill bits every 3-4 holes, and there were 114 studs to do. Great tool for putting together benches, saw frames, fixing wobbly garden furniture. Just press the trigger until it stops wobbling :-)

LOL - yeah my knowledge of electronics gets a bit vague after the 807 valve. Two of each for two lights? Or because you might drop or break one?

Yep - also "builders bog" aka two-pack fillers, that black/white stuff used by plumbers for joints in iron pipe, or a shot or two of construction adhesive.

Indeed there is. I go for "visual stress grading" as a final check. If it looks right, if it doesn't move when you swing on it - it's probably right.
Recently looked at a sewer line laid with full laser levelling. Real quick/smart process. But something was wrong. Ok - check with a $10 spirit level - the pipe was laid to an exact and constant grade - but to flow uphill.
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<!!> Where'd you find that? Talk about rare...

That's too ambitious for me ;) ((Also, over the the past 30 years, I spent 22 as a renter, with short periods of ownership interspered through that - haven't lived in any place long enough to actually have to do any sort of significant repairs/upgrades.))

I'm working on designs for 2, 4, or 6 LEDs per lamp/lantern/thingie, depending upon the LED brightness I can get, the size of the individual items I make, and the material (clear textured versus actual stained (colored) glass). The prototype is just rectangluar, but what I want to do is combine my 3D modeling software, and my unwrapping software, to build some less-usual shapes, such as a twisted hexagonal column, and so on.

WHen you know your materials well, I think that it prob. becomes almost an "instinct".

<!> I dunno whether to laugh or moan at that one =:-o
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It's a whole house, shifted to a new site. Built by the State Works Department in 1953 - delivery dates were marked on some of the beams. My 3 sons + others have been living in it for 4 years, and so far they haven't managed to break anything major - even the fitted carpet is ok.
I'd certainly recommend an air-nailer. Framing guns are heavy and might be hard to handle if you have a bad wrist, but a brad nailer or finishing gun is easy enough. With a bit of practice the nail heads counter-sink neatly and disappear with paint or a dab of wood filler.

All that gear, the expressions on everyone's face - you never have a camera when you need one ...
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Cool.
I've seen recycled items (wood, bricks, and so on) in pictures, and from what I've seen, you can get things that are just way beyond what's currently available, and/or quite a unique look. I think that such recycled items are things one can use onyl when one has a place custom- designed, and at that, by someone who knows how to get hold of recycled materials.

GOod to keep in mind. I have a small staple gun that also deals with brads, which is quite useful, espcially since it's useable either Righty or Lefty (I use either/both for most things). Not an air-gun tyupe, just a spring-loaded thing, but still good for little projects ;)

Crazy stuff. But proof that there is a difference between having info, and knowing how to *use/integrate* info ;)
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(1) becasue I'm generally interested, as I mentioned, in modern adaptations of ancient materials and techniques (including things like passive cooling); (2) not everyone has cheap lumber readily available - bamboo will grow pretty much anywhere (some types like a lot fo water, others grow where it's surprisingly dry) and, being a species of grass, it tends to grow rapidly, so for many areas, it might be a viable alternative to wood, growing readily where suitable lumber trees do not.

Lumber in many areas, tho', remains quite expensive.
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Why?? Both their circumstances, and their perspectives, are different. If you only do things becaue "that's how they've always been done", you'll never discover anything, or create anything new. Invention is not merely having information or even technical know-how - people who've made significant discoveries typically have all the same info as everyone else, but they look at that info from a new perspective, with a creative mindset (and ignore the naysayers who claim that thsi or that "can't be done, or is "a waste of time" becasue one "should" do things the same way "they've always been done" - which makes no sense at all, sonce *someone* had to come up with those older methodologies in the first place, IOW, *invent somethign new*). Fleming didn't discover penicillin merely because he was the only person to ever see a mold contaminate a Petrie dish and kill the bacterial culture on it - rather, he was the first peron to *pursue the reason*, the first to look at is as more than merely an error to be discarded; same with Kekule and the discovery of the hexagonal carbon ring. And so on. A large part of invention and creativity is to realize that there is a difference between reinventing the wheel, and looking at the wheel from a new perspective that adapts/expands it's useage to something new.
Pathetically, for every person who askes "what if...?", there are at least 100 naysayers who will call said person an idiot =>:-p

I'm not a construction designer, so obviously I don't know those specifics. THat being said, if something like Giant Timber Bamboo (hardy to about 12 degrees F, height to 75', diameter to 7", low water needs - pic: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/44914 /) grows locally and quickly, why *shouldn't* it be cheaper if planted for production? Also, if it's local, the shorter distance of transportwould be a savings (including a savings of pollutants). As for specs, the question is more of a design/architectual question hinging upon a knowledge of the material and its properties, not a delivery question (since, given how bamboo grows, there would be a number of cane-sizes available at any given time - IOW, same as with tree farming).
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Kris Krieger wrote:

one of them, flexibility another, weight another, but besides that, it grows quickly, is easy to propagate, as mentioned above toleratees some extreme growing conditions and there is a kind of bamboo and large grass appropriate to almost every climate and soil and weather condition.

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Will you be using bamboo on your next project? If not, then why?
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