Make full use of bamboo

The recent bamboo festival at the Institute of Wood Science and Technology was an eye-opener about the uses of this natural material. By <span class="ng_byline_name">Nandhini Sundar</span>

Published - October 07, 2016 04:13 pm IST

A stall at the bamboo fair

A stall at the bamboo fair

It was a scintillating show of the versatility of bamboo, be it as furniture, musical instruments, artworks, fabrics, soaps, mobile amplifiers, stunning structures or mouth-watering cuisine. The bamboo festival hosted at the Institute of Wood Science and Technology to celebrate World Bamboo Day had it all, enthralling the audience.

Charming home décor solutions prevailed in the form of quaint hollow-cut stem seat benches, attractive tables, chairs, bar stools, lamp shades and lanterns, sculptural artefacts and wall art that can serve as arresting highlights in an interior.

Attractive home utilities such as soap dishes, pen holders, candle holders, agarbathi holders, tea coasters and herbal soaps were other eye-catchers in the home solution segment. For the musician, there were a range of percussion items, ranging from instruments that imitated the sound of rain to rattlers besides vocal instruments such as flutes.

A music show using bamboo-based instruments stood testimony to the distinctive place bamboo occupies in the music arena.

The festival made it clear that bamboo can be worn too, through soft fine fabric. This was amply borne out by the fashion show that marked the evening events, taking the audience through a range of fabrics from bamboo.

Given the prime use of bamboo is in structures, a wide variety of bamboo boards and bamboo corrugated sheets offering an excellent roofing solution, were on display, with a miniature model house providing a peek into the design possibilities.

House of five elements

Architect Neelam Manjunath, of Manasaram Architects said, “The swift pace with which bamboo can be renewed as compared to conventional wood, makes it all the more attractive for use.” Neelam had some of the concepts and designs of her projects displayed at the festival. One of her projects, house of five elements, constructed totally with bamboo and mud blocks, with no steel columns and only bamboo reinforced concrete even for the roof, brings in all the five elements of nature into the interiors through the manner of design, complementing the sustainable nature of the structure.

Yet another interesting structure of Neelam displayed at the festival was Cocoon, an exhibition area, offering an unconventional form at the most economical cost. Local students and artisans were engaged in its design through a workshop format, yielding a project that was socially relevant as well as connected with a wide spectrum of participants.

The free form of Cocoon was achieved entirely using bamboo splits that were supported by a split-weave column going up to 10 ft. high at the centre of the structure. While the splits weave out to complete the entire span of the structure, the roofing was done using locally available banana sheath plates.

Speaking on the use of bamboo in structures, Neelam rued, “Currently bamboo is considered as an option only for temporary structures.

To increase awareness about bamboo, ready-made graded raw material should be made available besides its pricing as well as details of the multiple possibilities and manner of its use. Architecture colleges too should teach students the versatility of bamboo and its use in structures.”

Wrong policies

Calling for a change in policies to popularise use of bamboo, K. Sundar Naik, Chairman, Bamboo Society of India, stated, “Use of bamboo is restricted because of wrong policies pursued such as insisting on farmers getting approval for harvesting. This is invariably laborious and many times harrowing for the farmer. It also robs the incentive to cultivate bamboo. Added to this is the lack of quality control on bamboo sold in the market which leaves the buyer wary of what quality of bamboo he is taking home.”

Given the versatility, the fast renewability along with its immense potential as an economical building solution, it is time not only awareness about bamboo is spread, but the policies too need a rethink to aid its greater use and acceptance.

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