Greg Egan, bamboobob.com’s blog writer is in Los Angeles this week and there is much discussion concerning two significant events, the recent devastating earthquake and Tsunami in Japan and the upcoming Supermoon event slotted to begin, tomorrow, March 19th. As our hearts go out to the people of Japan, I am reminded of how the bamboo plant is revered in Japan’s culture and I am inspired to think of how bamboo can help.
Regarding “Supermoon” event, the earth’s satellite is will be closer to the earth than at any time in the last twenty years and may bring some earthquakes and eruption of volcanoes because of the intense gravitational attraction. All this discussion reminded the blogger of Bamboo Bob’s assertion that the safest place to be in an earthquake is a bamboo grove. Bamboo has the structural integrity of steel and the flexibility of carbon fibers. Bob has been reminding me of the sustainable nature of bamboo as a structural material and I uncovered some interesting research cited below
December’s 1983’s earthquake in the Iranian city of Bam took a huge death toll—roughly 40,000 people—largely because of the collapse of thousands of mud-brick buildings. The following year a group of researchers in India were trying prevent the next earthquake be as devastating. British and Indian engineers have been developing earthquake-proof housing using a cheap, ubiquitous material: bamboo.
They designed a prototype house built around waterproofed bamboo sheet roofing and bamboo-reinforced concrete walls. To test the structure, the engineers, sponsored by the U.K. Department of International Development, took it to the Earthquake Engineering and Vibration Research Centre in Bangalore (below), which has a state-of-the-art earthquake simulator. The researchers shook the house with five consecutive 30-second pulses, equivalent to 7.8 on the Richter scale. The simulation was more than 10 times as violent as the Bam earthquake, yet the house emerged unscathed. “We didn’t even crack the paint,” says engineer Paul Follett, of Britain’s Timber Research and Development Association.
By some estimates, more than a billion people already live in bamboo structures. The innovation lies in developing ways to exploit bamboo’s resilience. Easily prefabricated, fire resistant, and far lighter than steel, bamboo-based structures could be assembled in three weeks and last 50 years. At five dollars a square foot, they would cost roughly half as much as brick-and-block construction. Follett says the project will follow an “open source” model: “Whatever is developed is freely available for the common good.”
Bamboo structures have been a staple in the third world for centuries but there are indications the first world may be getting the message. Pictured below, is the 20,000 square foot pavilion at Expo2000 in Hannover, Germany, by architect Simon Velez (photos by Darrel DeBoer, a US Bamboo architect).
The website that describes the pavilion, as well as the low-cost house Velez designed for the Grow Your Own House book http://www.zeri.org/projects/growyourownhouse.htm
The earthquake building development in Bangalore, India portion of this article was taken from Bamboo Cures Earthquakes by Matthew Power From the Discovery Magazine August 2004 issue; published online August 2, 2004.The bamboo pavilion in Germany information was taken from Simon Velez’s website.
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