welcome to Bamboo U, an intensive workshop that is the result of a collaboration between the creators of today’s pioneering bamboo-design firm IBUKU and the sustainable permaculture lifestyle at the Kul Kul Farm located in the heart of bali. over an eleven day period, designboom joined a team of 35 international participants comprised of students, professionals, scientists, nutritionists, entrepreneurs, agriculturalists, artists, and of course designers, to learn everything there is to know surrounding a design/build approach to bamboo


image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography

 

 

set within an inspiring environment of lush colorful plants and happy animals, where the palm trees yield a bottomless bounty of coconuts and natural groves of bamboo fill the spaces between, the course takes place as much within its subject matter as it does teach about it. a new age of bamboo construction, an idea originally initiated by john and cynthia hardy with their flagship project, the Green School — previously covered by designboom here –Bamboo U’s objective is to communicate many years of knowledge and experience, concepts and techniques, trials and tribulations to help build a world with sustainable materials and sustainable minds.


a traditional balinese meal was prepared on the first bamboo structure to be built on the campus
image © designboom

 

 

unlike arguably all other building materials, bamboo has a certain quality that requires a more holistic approach to its understanding, both in its physical handling and use as well as its design capabilities and limitations. this concept heavily drives the curriculum of the workshop itself, not only imparting the technical aspects of bamboo design and build but also getting into a deeper understanding of its lifespan and effect on the surrounding environment. not only will participants learn how to handle bamboo and its design possibilities but they will also acquire a deeper understanding of its responsible use, learn of several projects that are being initiated all over the world, and be inspired by a varied and expert team of professionals from different fields of study. 


the reciprocal tower is one of the first larger-scale challenges students learn to build at the green school campus
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography

 

 

 

the course is carefully balanced to provide over 20 hours of talks. ranging from international guest lecturers and professionals as well as hands-on practical experience, topics include everything from forestry to harvest, carpentry to full-scale construction, in addition to ground-breaking trades and products that further lend to a more sustainable world. every day is a well-rounded experience leaving the body and mind fulfilled and enriched.


complementing the course, the Kul Kul Farm offers an early morning course on permaculture
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography

 

 

IBUKU founder elora hardy offers her wisdom and experience after 8 years of designing and building the dream-like sustainable structures now making their way across the world for their unique beauty and sense of surrealism. with a nature-driven approach to design, IBUKU’s projects utilize traditional construction methods while pioneering ground-breaking designs and new uses for bamboo. the projects are always deeply rooted into their environmental context, carefully negotiating the site’s cues, the bamboo’s capabilities, and the client’s desires to create a structure that works symbiotically with the site.


acclaimed design studio IBUKU‘s headquarters
image © designboom

 

 

former IBUKU lead designer and internationally-experienced architect ewe jin low brings many years of design perspective to the course, teaching the unique design process of the bamboo world within the context of the developed and developing worlds. his passionate approach to design teaches students to translate ideas into models and finally, into reality. scale models are considered the ‘construction documents’ of the bamboo world, serving as the final say in any disputes on site serving to provide measurements as well as illustrate construction methods at a smaller scale. as is said in the bamboo construction site, ‘who holds the model makes the decisions.’


IBUKU head architect defit wijaya shares the unique design process he helped to create
image © designboom

 

 

internationally acclaimed engineer and recipient of the royal designer for industry award neil thomas of london-based firm atelier one — engineer of the gardens by the bay — offers his technical expertise and inventive approach to the course explaining the unique material properties of bamboo and engineering considerations behind its construction. after decades of pushing the envelope with high-profile projects around the world, including the bean in chicago, several innovative kinetic stage designs for U2 and take that, and the opening ceremonies for the sochi olympic games, a trip to bali shifted his focus towards the future potential of bamboo design. his background in making any idea work at any scale combined with the new possibilities of bamboo design and his technical expertise make neil a perfect mentor in making the craziest idea a palpable reality. 


elora hardy, head of IBUKU, inspires with her story and approach to bamboo design and build
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography

 

 

master carpenter and head of plank production at PT Bamboo Pure, I ketut ‘moko’ sumerta shares his priceless knowledge, unreal carpentry skills, and endless smiles throughout the course. moko’s detailed tour of the treatment facility illustrates the process necessary to get the bamboo from the forest to the job site. throughout the workshop, moko and several of his colleagues are available to assist students as they learn traditional hand-carving techniques with local tools and offer advice and support during the hands-on workshops, as well as some perspective on how long it takes to truly master the techniques they use on a daily basis.


ewe jin low teaches model making methods
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography

 

 

environmental scientist arief rabik, founder of the environmental bamboo foundation and son of early bamboo design pioneer linda garland, takes participants into the forest to learn the skills necessary to sustainably locate, harvest and use bamboo. with his knowledge of the bamboo life cycle and big-picture ideas, arief is developing the 1000 bamboo villages project to bring the social and environmental benefits of the material to villages in need. by empowering the local communities through bamboo construction, the citizens can re-build their homes to withstand climate conditions and provide a source of economic growth while rehabilitating the environment.


neil thomas invites participants to help construct a new type of bamboo truss
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


head of plank production at PT Bamboo Pure, moko brings over 30 years of carpentry experience to the course
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


students try their hand at carpentry saws and knifes to make the perfect ‘fish mouth’ joint
image © designboom


arief takes students on site to successfully identify, mark, and harvest bamboo
image © designboom


pratt institute professor and artist scott vandervoort leads a workshop on bamboo as an artistic expression
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


the design and innovation station allows students to explore bamboo through the lens of an artist
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


‘iago’s tricycle,’ by course photographer tommaso riva
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


participants are free to build anything, from a lamp shade to a full-scale coconut bar
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography

 
students are left to discover and develop methods for building structures entirely out of bamboo
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


at the ‘kitchen station’ participants helped to build a full-scale structure that will be used within the green campus
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


green school founders john and cynthia hardy host a dinner and talk at the Green School
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


orin hardy and sister chiara hardy, along with local craftsmen, lead the retractable yurt station to teach how to build the Bamboo U version of the mongolian-style yurt
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


after fabrication, the mobile yurt takes shape
image © designboom


chiara and orin hardy demonstrate a previously constructed 1:2 model of the retractable yurt
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography  
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


some of the world’s most talented local master craftsmen lend their knowledge every step of the way
image courtesy Bamboo U | tommasoriva photography


Bamboo U’s graduating class of august 2018
image courtesy Bamboo U

 

be sure to check in with Bamboo U to sign up for upcoming courses and check  out the progress of each graduating class.

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