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Visionary Bamboo Designs for Ecological Living

Edited by David Greenberg, Robert Henrikson, and Shyam Paudel. Hawaii: Bamboo Technologies, 2007, 103 pages, $20.

Reviewed by David Sokol

The 50 finalists in the International Bamboo Building Design Competition were assembled into Visionary Bamboo Designs. This 2006 contest had a home-sewn quality: Participants were not guaranteed that winning designs would be realized, and victors were treated to a free stay in a bamboo house in Maui. The corresponding publication can’t escape the amateur-hour feeling. Disparate competition boards, clearly, were just turned into PDFs and perfect-bound here.

Visionary Bamboo Designs for Ecological Living
Image courtesy Bamboo Technologies
Edited by David Greenberg, Robert Henrikson, and Shyam Paudel, Visionary Bamboo Designs for Ecological Living, 2007
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Look past the lack of polish, and the concepts and built works featured in the titlereally are forward-looking. This array of innovative small- and medium-scale building applications for the fast-growing, renewable grass pair structural know-how with style. A free-form community pavilion in Oaxaca, Mexico, deploys bamboo in a composite lamella truss; Mark Kline’s conceptual resort house not only uses bamboo structurally, but also transforms epoxy-filled sections of bamboo into decorative walls. As if validating the entries’ quality, the Handmade School in Bangladesh was a recipient of a 2007 Aga Khan Award, and last December the Wind and Water Cafe won an honorable mention in the AR Awards for Emerging Architecture. Although the authors rightfully sit back and allow the finalists’ ideas to take center stage, one can’t so easily forgive them for the book’s most notable absence: information about sourcing ecologically harvested bamboo. If taken from over-fertilized, poorly managed farms, then building with bamboo is simply greenwashing.

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