Bamboo has been in use across tropical regions of the world for tens of thousands of years. In fact, there are islands and entire continents that were once first reached by bamboo rafts. With over 1,450 species of bamboo grass growing throughout the world, hundreds are found in Indonesia alone. So it’s only natural that the houses of the Green Village – a sustainable community of residences nestled in the rainforest just outside of Ubud – are made primarily of bamboo.
The Green Village was created by Ibuku, a local design firm formed in 2010 by Elora Hardy after being inspired by the natural surroundings and cultural brilliance of Bali. Ibuku’s origins lie in the belief that bamboo can change the way people build. Their work showcases the structural and decorative possibilities of bamboo and are reinventing the rules and standards of what a building can look like.
Bamboos include some of the fastest-growing plants in the world with certain species growing three feet within a 24-hour period, at a rate of almost 1.5 inches per hour. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family and have a higher compressive strength than wood, brick and concrete. Although it is as strong as steel by weight, bamboo is considerably lightweight and easy to handle.
Another important characteristic of bamboo is its extreme flexibility. As part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, Bali is vulnerable to earthquakes. The bamboo houses of the Green Village are designed to be flexible enough to dance during earthquakes while other rigid structures would crack and potentially crumble.
Until recently there was no way to protect bamboo from insects so untreated bamboo would be eaten to dust. With the development of a natural salt solution treatment, the sugar can now be removed so that bugs no longer desire to feast on the grass. Now a house made from bamboo can last for a hundred years.
Bamboo is a beautiful, bountiful, sustainable material that Bali will not run out of.