Bamboo is one of the materials most used by man since ancient times and is currently declared “the material of the 21st century” by the United Nations. Bamboo is a true protagonist of the circular economy and sustainability and building with bamboo promises to become essential for regenerating the social fabric and a system of production and consumption. It is increasingly valued for its extraordinary hardness and resistance concerning its lightweight. It requires much less energy for its transformation than other materials such as wood. It does not need to be replanted (it sprouts naturally), which means that its use and exploitation do not produce deforestation, in addition to the fact that it has sufficient reserves of raw material production for thousands of years.
Studies carried out in numerous universities and laboratories worldwide have determined that Bamboo reaches a consistency and hardness that allows it to become a timber material in only three or four years. With three years or more, bamboo canes can already be used for any construction.
The hardness and resistance of Bamboo come from a natural process called “lignification.” This process is usually completed in the fifth or sixth year, when the bamboo cane reaches maturity, depending on the species. The cutting age is essential, but we must consider the type of construction we want to develop. We intend to use younger and more flexible canes for elements with curvature or more mature and rigid canes. It is necessary to differentiate the reeds to know precisely their maturity period to proceed to the cut.
The Bamboo also has different physical characteristics that guide us about its states of maturity, such as the color of greenish or yellowish, the leaves, or the presence of moss and lichens.
To cut the Bamboo, it is recommended to do it at ground level and above the first or second node located above ground level. The cut must be made while maintaining the composition of the node as a whole, avoiding the storage of rainwater, especially in the diaphragm on which we cut, reducing the attack of abiotic agents, a possible cause of the rotting of the rhizome and, therefore, of the future death of the plant. Therefore, it is recommended to make a diagonal cut, allowing the evacuation of water by gravity. After cutting, it is necessary to subject the bamboo canes to preservation work and eliminate the nutrients that attract biotic agents by natural methods or with chemical products.
The most respectful process with the canes and the environment is the immersion of these in pentaborate or borax salts. It is continuing with a bleaching process under controlled exposure to the sun and drying. In order to immunize the material and allow the liquid to penetrate, it is necessary that the reeds are not too dry, as well as to make longitudinal perforations to spread the chemical through all the cavities and to allow it to filter to a greater extent, since insects generally penetrate through the ends or knots.
Like a rice or corn plant, Bamboo is grass and is the fastest-growing plant. It can grow between 15 and 120 cm in just one day. It grows much faster than a tree and captures more CO2, producing a host of environmental benefits. The high resistance of Bamboo in relation to its low weight is mainly due to its physical structure: round, hollow, and rigid transverse partition that allows it to bend without breaking. This reinforcement is responsible for its high strength, which is close to steel, in relation to its mass. Building with bamboo is definitely an excellent option.
Building with bamboo;
Height from 18 to 30m depending on species and age. Diameter between 20 and 8 cm at the base, and 3 cm at the top. Thickness between 2 and 2.5 cm at the base and 1 cm at the top. Distance between nodes from 7 to 10 cm at the base, separating with the height between 25 to 35 cm.
Currently, there are more than 1,600 species of Bamboo. Among the most popular for building with bamboo we find Guadua, Tonkin, Moso, Bambusa, etc.
Bamboo grows in 4 of the 5 continents, Europe being the only continent where it did not develop naturally. That is to say, 97% of the existing Bamboo on the planet is concentrated on 72% of the population. This makes clear its enormous potential.
Of the 1500 existing species of this plant, only a small portion is suitable for construction. Due to its thick stem and height, the most popular is the Guadua; but the Moso, Tonkin, Bambusa, Sasalas… also stand out.
As a fact, we want to emphasize that bamboo, due to its flexibility and tolerance to tension, is highly resistant to earthquakes, and in case of collapse, the damage is not so significant due to its lightweight. Reconstruction is quick and easy.
“The vegetable steel of construction”, as many call bamboo, is also perfect for insulating against noise, cold, and heat, thanks to the air chambers formed by its trunks. We have to be aware that organic building materials will favor the health of the building and consequently our own.
We hope that all this can show that bamboo, coupled with a sustainable and friendly technological development, can replace or reduce the use of conventional materials such as steel cement, generating employment opportunities for farmers, producers, workers, and professionals, thus reducing migration and poverty. Lowering the ecological footprint of buildings is essential for one of the most polluting industrial sectors of the planet.
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