eleena jamil architect proposes sustainable bamboo structures for malaysian housing

eleena jamil architect proposes sustainable bamboo structures for malaysian housing

malaysian architecture firm eleena jamil architect has reimagined the typical terrace houses in malaysia. the residential typology consists of a house built of concrete, steel and bricks with a 22 feet wide front that overlooks the street, and are popular all over the country. however, the designers propose exploring the use of bamboo as a construction material for a more sustainable method.




the architects know that the use of bamboo in malaysia is not a breakthrough, yet it is mostly used for temporary structures such as low-cost homes in rural areas. in this proposal, the architects attempt to demonstrate the possibility of building permanent and comfortable contemporary homes in urban and suburban areas with bamboo. by treating the material and preserving it properly, it can last a lifetime, making it one of the most sustainable building materials.




bamboo grows very quickly where stalks suitable for structures can be harvested within 3 years of cultivation. its inherent strength makes it a viable structural element for construction: in hong kong, bamboo is used as scaffolding for skyscrapers; in indonesia and vietnam, it is used for large vernacular buildings and in parts of rural southeast asia, it is used for bridges. in this proposal, the architects use it to hold up the floors and roof of each residence, spanning between the boundary walls.




the boundary walls are full height masonry barriers between individual homes, which adhere to the fire safety requirement to prevent the spread of flames across terraces. other than these masonry walls, and bathroom enclosures made of pre-fab lightweight concrete, the main structure for the homes is bamboo. interior and exterior walls are lightweight bamboo composite board system, whereas floors will be covered with engineered bamboo floorboards.




the bamboo structural frames will be pre-fabricated, mass-produced and flat-packed, to reduce costs and environmental impact. the easy assembly method is on site, and its modularity and pre-fabricated nature help keep the cost of building the homes lower than standard construction methods.




the homes’ front facade have large glazed openings towards the street, which are shaded by large overhangs and balconies to reduce heat gain. a similar approach is applied to the rear facade of the house. the terrace’s streets in the proposal are designed to encourage connections, relationships and community spirit among residents. while keeping vehicular access, the streetscape is centered around pedestrian movement. pedestrian walkways and landscaping are prioritized over driveways. along the sides, the terraces are separated by landscaped paths.




each terrace home unit includes an internal courtyard and balconies, creating a variety of amenity spaces and viewpoints. despite the use of a traditional structural material, the terrace homes have clean lines and extensive glazing, which draw inspiration from the modernist style. the houses also feature an open-plan layout on all three floors. this enables the flexibility of spaces within each house and creates vertical spatial connection between the different living areas.




the access to outdoor spaces is available at different levels throughout the house: a patio on the ground floor, a balcony on the first floor and a terrance on the second floor. a louvered roof light at the top of the staircase allows natural illumination into the house, and natural ventilation for the interiors. the ventilating roof light creates an indoor courtyard suitable for plants.




eleena jamil architects’ proposal is intended to be suitable for countries that can grow their own bamboo where simple logistics will keep carbon footprint to a minimum. the potentials of bamboo in mass housing are endless as research and development advance. innovations with this material have the potential to reach standardized building components such as doors and windows, enabling a house completely made out of bamboo to be built in the future.





project info:


architecture studio: eleena jamil architect

design team: eleena jamil, cheah zhi bin, yow pei san, bahirah rahman & dalia nasaruddin

location: malaysia


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: cristina gomez | designboom

  • Splendid indeed we need more creative designers and architects to involve in bamboo use in built environment.

    Zulkifli says:
  • Very good approach but do we have enough bamboo to be used as the structure of the house. Do the types of bamboo that we have in Malaysia suitable to be constructed and do we have enough skill to build using Malaysian bamboo. are there any specific research done in Malaysia.
    Very good effort and keep-it-up.

    All the best

    Prof . Zack

    Prof. Zack says:

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