In Bali, Bamboo Architecture Offers Model for a Sustainable Future

The living room of ‘Temple House’ a home constructed in the Green Village, a neighborhood on the island of Bali dedicated to building homes almost entirely out of bamboo. Photos by Ari Beser

BALI, Indonesia—How do you build a future out of grass? On the Indonesian island of Bali, one organization has set out to do just that. Ibuku, an architecture and furniture design firm based outside of Denpasar, Bali’s capital, is using Dendrocalamus asper bamboo—or petung in Balinese—to construct Green Village. I had the chance to visit this innovative new community while on leave from my Fulbright National Geographic Fellowship in Japan.

Green Village was inspired by the design of Green School, an eco friendly academy founded by John Hardy, the father of Elora Hardy, Ibuku’s founder and creative director. Ibu in Balinese means Mother, and ku means mine. Ibuku’s philosophy is similar to Green School’s desire to maintain a relationship with Mother Earth and the environment and delicate ecosystem that surrounds them.

According to a statement by Ibuku, “Bamboo is a flexible and tensile material with the strength equivalent to steel. We account for the flexibility in the engineering process and work to ensure our bamboo maintains its integrity over time. Bamboo is plentiful in river valleys throughout Asia, and the clumps regenerate each year. Bamboo is ready for use as a building material at age 3-5 years.”

While bamboo has been used worldwide in construction and craftsmanship for millennia, its structures don’t typically last long enough to be seen as a material worth permanence. Ibuku’s answer to this problem is a boron solution that suppresses glucose levels and renders it inedible for insects. According to Ibuku’s team, “If the bamboo is chosen well, treated properly, designed carefully and maintained, a bamboo house can last a lifetime. —> Read More