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Bold Bamboo: 8 Dramatic Organic Structures by Chiangmai Life Architects

With the completion of their latest project, a spectacular sports hall made of prefabricated bamboo trusses, Thai firm Chiangmai Life Construction (CLC) shows off the stunning architectural possibilities of this natural, inexpensive and sustainable material. But it’s far from the only incredible bamboo structure they’ve designed and built, and they’re here to prove that bamboo blends beautifully with modern technology and lifestyles. Each of their projects centers on the concept of ‘life construction,’ in which the design of a building is carefully customized to its environment, including weather, to control how bamboo interacts with the elements.

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Bamboo Sports Hall for Panyaden International School

Each of the prefabricated bamboo trusses used to build this sports hall for a school in Thailand spans more than 55 feet without steel reinforcements or connectors, lifted into position on-site with help from a crane. The structure is designed to withstand earthquakes, torrential rain and high velocity winds, and to host basketball, futsal (a variation of football played on a small hard court), volleyball and badminton. The building shape is based on that of a lotus flower, and like all of CLC’s projects, this one is open to the air to encourage ventilation for cooling in Thailand’s temperate climate, where cold weather is not a problem. The space can host 300 students at a time and includes a storage area behind the stage.

Erber Research Center

At Kasetsart University, Thailand’s largest agricultural learning institution, CLC created a facility that allows students and visitors to study chicken rearing through the windows of an adjacent pre-existing broiler hall (where the chickens are raised) as well as offering space for lectures. Based on the layout of a traditional farmhouse with a square courtyard, the facility includes a covered observation platform with windows spray-painted to look like the eyes of a chicken, with a meeting room, office, lecture hall, kitchen and bathrooms nearby. Says CLC, “This design brings traditional architecture to today’s students who grow up in concrete bunkers.”

Trika Villa

Trika Villa is a residence aiming to illustrate CLC’s core goal of bringing natural materials into the 21st century, maintaining a balance of beauty, affordability and quality. The luxury residence includes 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and a spacious living and dining room arranged around a swimming pool in the courtyard. The adobe walls don’t quite meet the curving, overhanging roof, allowing heat to escape and breezes to penetrate the structure.

Bamboo Reception Hall

Welcoming parents and visitors at the entrance of Panyaprateep School in Thailand is this bamboo reception hall with a rolling bamboo roof inspired by snakeskin. Half open and half closed, the structure offers earthen and stone benches for sitting together in small groups as well as an area full of shelves for the display of items made by the students.

Bamboo Dome Sala

“This bamboo dome sala (bamboo pavilion) project represents a landmark change in Chiangmai Life Construction bamboo architecture development,” says the firm. “In our previous salas, we used big diagonal bamboo culms as structural support like most other bamboo architects. With this Bamboo Dome Sala we are emphasizing a finer and more space oriented kind of bamboo architecture by introducing bamboo arches as main design feature as well as structural element. These arches as well the outer rim which gives the bamboo roof its free flowing form, are made of bundled bamboo beams.”

Dhammagiri Meditation Hall

Hosting spiritual talks and meditation seminars, the Dhammagiri Meditation Hall aims to be “inspiring, spacious and light,” with the feel of a church. Large bamboo culms provide support for the roof while beams of bundled bamboo of a smaller species create the exterior of the roof and the crossed bamboo arches inside.

Bamboo Entrance Gate

The architects wanted the entrance to their own offices to be dramatic and memorable, giving clients an immediate sense of what they’re capable of creating. They took inspiration from visuals of small trees standing near each other and touching at the crowns, with spiked pillars standing on either side of the road, coming together in an arch.

Zabb E Lee Cooking School

The Zabb E Lee Cooking School wanted a new facility in the middle of their organic gardens at the outskirts of the city of Chiang Mai, preferably made entirely out of bamboo and fulfilling three functions: a food prep area, a cooking area and a dining space, all with the right atmospheres and conditions for their particular purposes. The double roof shape stretches out into long points over the entrance, with the other end cradled by a dome.


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