are found in more than a hundred nations. It is found

extensively in China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Brazil. It belongs to the family of grasses. There are over 700 species of bamboo, and many are used in the building.

They grow at a very fast rate, normally reaching their full size in one year and maturity in three or four years. The stems known as culms are usually cylindrical and hollow. Knots divide the stem at regular intervals. Depending upon the species, the culms may be as little as 3m (10ft) or as tall as 35m (115 ft). Culms diameters range from a few millimeters up to 15 cm or more. It is easily worked with rudimentary tools. It can survive in semiarid conditions (rainfalls in the range of 600 mm to 2000 mm). Bamboos often grow wild, but in countries where they provide food and materials for family needs, it is common to see it cultivated in and around villages.

Anatomy of Bamboo

Structural Properties of Bamboo

TRADITION BUILDING MATERIAL - B A M B O O In a given situation, a building material should be as light as possible to carry a given load. If we compare bamboo with some of the contemporary materials then we will find that it is more efficient than the rest. Material Density (Kg / lit.) 1 Bamboo Teak wood Mild steel 0.719 0.604 7.800 Compressive strength ( kg / cm2 ) 2 645 532 4250 Strength / wt. ratio 2/1=3 897 880 544
Source: Venu Bharati

Every material under stress (tensile or compression) deforms (expands or contracts). When the load is removed before failure, the material returns to its original size and shape. The stress limit to which the material can be taken without losing the ability to return to the original size or shape is called stiffness limit. Stiffness Factor = stiffness limit / density Material Bamboo Mild steel Timber Concrete Stiffness Factor 33 27 18 10
Source: Venu Bharati

Bamboo can be used as full cane or split with machete longitudinally into halved or quartered strips or segments. The bamboo is cut this way because of its structural properties and long fibers with their parallel orientation. Bamboo plays a

TRADITION BUILDING MATERIAL - B A M B O O major role in construction: as a structural element for posts, beams and railings, or a stiffening frame and as a cladding (for roof, wall or fence). Bamboos with a large diameter are widely used as structural element, to make floor joists, wall frames, columns and roof structures. Split and flattened bamboo are also used to make floors. Bamboo makes an excellent scaffolding, gutters and water pipes. Its high tensile strength and straightness makes it a valuable structural material, and one that has been useful in achieving typhoon-resistant structures. The walls act as protective screen; they are required to provide ventilation and light. This can be obtained by interlacing the strips with each other.

Interlacing Bamboo for Walls and Fences

In Columbia split bamboo stems are flattened and nailed onto the supporting framework (of bamboo or timber) to make wall panels. In Laos, bamboo woven mats are used in a similar way, with many different styles of weaving and thickness.

TRADITION BUILDING MATERIAL - B A M B O O Similar panels are used for making doors and shutters. It is also used to make half-round tiles, or split open to make flat tiles.

Use of Bamboo for Roof Tiling

It has been used as the framing for earth walls and provides some protection against earthquake damage, but typically the usefulness of this protection has been short-lived because of decay caused by insects. Reeds, bamboo and palm stems have been used as reinforcement in elements such as lintels, combined with plaster or earth. Learning from this, recent research has worked on using bamboo as reinforcement in concrete, with only moderate success. Joinery In order to assemble the structural skeleton, canes of different diameters are joined by interpenetration, without auxiliary means. Canes are inserted into slots of the same dimension. Joints are often effected using rope binding and bamboo pegs, and skill is often required to achieve good connections.

TRADITION BUILDING MATERIAL - B A M B O O All fibres that make up a bamboo culm, run parallel to the length direction. Therefore, bamboos split very easily, and cannot be nailed, although the bamboo Guadua Augustifolia can be nailed easily. When required, instead of hammering nails, holes can be drilled and one can use various fasteners for joinery.

Joinery using the hollow and cycle riverts bolts

Bamboo dowels

Use of G.I. nuts and bolts


Methods of joining bamboo

The two recent methods that have been devised to bend bamboo are: • • Bending by ammonia curing Heat bending of aluminum foil covered on culms


Some of the Advanced Methods of Bending Bamboo


Traditional Joinery


Shortcomings of Bamboo Decay and insect attack are the main problems of using bamboos. Fire is also a hazard. Cost often makes preventive treatment against decay and fire unrealistic. Good design and good use of materials can provide better protection. In most parts of India, the following prevention measures are followed: • • • the bamboo is not cut in rainy season, only mature bamboo is cut, roasting it on light wood fire expels moisture and retards fungal growth.

Houses with bamboo Northeast India In India, bamboo is extensively used in the northeast part of the country. The northeast India covers states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, and Meghalaya. It is the only region with wet alluvial soil and has unique flora and fauna. Most of the vernacular architecture employs bamboo as one of the primary building materials. Apart from structural frame, various kinds of wall screens, panels and partitions are made of woven bamboo laths. These porous, screen-type walls permit necessary ventilation and thermal relief. Earthen buildings are not common I the deltaic plains, as the alluvial soil contains too much clay and is hence unsuitable for buildings. Adi (Arunachal Pradesh) The Adi tribe is the largest tribe in Arunachal Pradesh and comprises several sub tribes. The area populated by the Adis is situated in the central Arunachal Pradesh. An Adi village is established at a safe place on the slope of a hill ridge or in the valley.

TRADITION BUILDING MATERIAL - B A M B O O Adi houses are bamboo structures, strengthened with wood wherever available and secured with cane buildings. The level for the floor is obtained by driving into the hillside bamboo stilts, varying in length from 1.2m to 3m according to the fall of the hill slope. Across these stilts are tied wooden beams and battens, leaving small gaps between where they cross each one another. On this firm framework are placed mats of thick split bamboo culms that form the floor. This raised platform of the floor is approximately rectangular in shape and varies in length. This platform is walled on all sides with roughly hewn wooden planks or split bamboo mats, slightly inclined towards outside. The roof is thatched with dried palm leaves that are tied to the bamboo frame by the means of bamboo ropes. The roof slopes down to the platform to protect the walls form strong winds. After the roof, thatching is complete, bamboo poles are tied horizontally, inside the house, from one end of the side posts to the other, to give additional support to the roof. A part of this ceiling is covered with split bamboo and used for storing paddy and other articles of daily use.

TRADITION BUILDING MATERIAL - B A M B O O Mishing (Assam) The Mishing people build long, rectangular houses (char ghar) on a bamboo platform raised 1-2m above the ground, depending upon the expected flood level during the monsoon. The char ghar is usually flanked by large open spaces on both sides and on the front. The interior is a flexible arrangement of spaces, demarcated by 2.5m high bamboo screens. Pigs are penned in the space underneath the raised floor. The perforations in the bamboo matting floor facilitate easy waste disposal. The roof and the floor of the char ghar are supported by independent structural system. The floor substructure is supported on timber stilts about 20cm and embedded 60cm deep into the ground.

The roof substructure is a series of timber trusses at every 2msupported over timber beams of 25cm x 15 cm cross-section that run along the two longer walls. The roof cladding comprises 12cm thick grass thatch placed over bamboo rafters and purlins. The pitch roof is about 30 0 with about 1m overhang on all sides. Flattened bamboo mats hung from the timber beams on all sides form the wall cover.


Bibliography • • • Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of The World, Volume1Paul Oliver Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of The World, Volume2Paul Oliver Venu Bharati – Vinoo Kaley

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