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Living in Nature and Bamboo Construction

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Green architecture has been on the tip of the tongue for many home-seekers desiring an escape from the everyday concrete jungle. Although the process is extremely difficult, from both an architectural and construction standpoint, harmonious integration of nature and home has led to some fascinating pieces of organic design and construction.

 From tree houses to cliff-edge homes, natural surrounding has been a point of envy for those forced to live in the confines of a large city. Unsurprisingly, many of the architects and engineers that create these earthly structures have their own unique take on what it means to combine both nature and construction, and this disparity is mirrored across the materials used.

 Modscape, an Australian-owned and operated modular and prefabrication design company, has its take on green construction, and it isn't for the faint-hearted. Inspired by barnacles clinging onto the hull of a ship, the Cliff House is a three-bedroom apartment suspended off the face of a cliff.

The plans came from a Victorian couple's desire to live on the punishing cliffs of Victoria's coast, hanging off the sheer stone walls rather than sitting on top. As is stated on the company's website, the home "is visualised as a natural extension of the cliff face rather than an addition to the landscape, creating an absolute connection with the ocean." (Design Boom). 

Green architecture has been on the tip of the tongue for many home-seekers desiring an escape from the everyday concrete jungle. 

The Blue Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in New South Wales, spans across 267,954 hectares of bushland and is comprised of approximately 140 kilometres of walking tracks leading through the 470-million-year-old mountains. The popular tourist destination is also home to an incredible mix of enviro-homes, merged into the deep green shrubby and trees in Wollemi National Park. The rustic buildings are known as the Love Cabins and have gained plenty of attraction from travel media. With different structures for different needs, the cabins, caves, teepees, and tree houses stemmed from a desire to absorb everything that the Blue Mountains has to offer.

The Wollemi Wilderness Treehouse, having won a Global Airbnb Open Award for the best place to stay, was constructed after the builder had come across a documentary on Indian treehouses in South America. The builder that prefers to remain anonymous found that "the local Indians that built the treehouses believed that the higher the treehouse, the higher their status. 

"So, I thought I’d better make it a really high treehouse. Lots of people want to know how high we are; on the corner near the spa, we're about 35 feet off the ground. If you leapt the veranda, you could leap for about 60 feet," he says.  

The treehouse itself is built using locally-sourced materials and untarnished, often live, branches and tree trunks to create a naturally-shaped residence with an exceptional relationship with natural surroundings.

"On pretty much any day, as long as it isn't windy, you can hear the water in the ravine rushing over the rapids. The rainforest gives off moisture that turns into clouds, and you can actually watch clouds forming. You're up there with a level of nature that you wouldn't normally see outside of a documentary," says the designer. 

This green construction also involves the use of green, environmentally-friendly materials to offer as deep engrains with nature as possible. 

This green construction also involves the use of green, environmentally-friendly materials to offer as deep engrains with nature as possible. Bamboo, a material that has been used in construction for thousands of years because of its durability, has recently made a return.

An Eco-Cabin workshop in Kalang, New South Wales, is offering Australian builders with interest in bamboo construction the opportunity to join an advanced construction workshop on harvesting, treatment and construction with the material. 

The workshop, organised by Giant Grass and The Bello Bamboo Company, will "generally include some theory, hands-on construction and evening slide shows and movies about bamboo construction through the world. The workshop is an advanced level workshop hence some understanding of construction and woodworking tools is essential. It will cover discussion on specialised bamboo tools and its uses."

A recent study on the mechanical characterisation of structural laminated bamboo has found that laminated bamboo has similar properties to that of timber. However, it is far faster growing and high-yielding, making it an easily renewed resource. Rather than lamination, construction personnel could also use linseed oil and concrete to create extremely durable elements.

Considering the today's society's disconnect with our natural surroundings, architectural and construction firms specialising in this ground-roots development and design are providing a refreshing view of a quickly evolving industry.

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