In 2010, Elora Hardy left her successful career in the NYC fashion scene to design sustainable bamboo houses in Bali, and six years later, she’s succeeded. She founded Ibuku together with a team of artisans, designers and engineers to reinvent sustainable building using one of nature’s most versatile materials—bamboo.
Bamboo is a wonderful material for building: it’s one of the fastest-growing plants in the world with a 4-year growth cycle. It has a strength-to-weight ratio and tensile strength comparable to conventional materials like steel, and if treated properly, it can last a lifetime.
But bamboo also has it’s shortcomings: it’s round, hollow, and tapered, making it a difficult material to work with and it’s prone to insect infestations. Hardy and her team have come up with a way to deal with all those problems, and the results are stunning!
Ibuku designs “on the land, for the land,” meaning that instead of using conventional blueprints, they build a 3D structural model of the house right on the land using bamboo sticks. This helps architects ensure the structural integrity and longevity of the final product.
The team then works with local bamboo craftsmen to measure and replicate the miniature model. Instead of relying on flat unsustainable materials like bricks or plywood to build walls, Ibuku has come up with an efficient way to use round bamboo poles. To prevent termite and beetle infestations, the bamboo is treated with a boron solution.
Hardy believes that bamboo is the future and hopes to bring Ibuku’s designs to the rest of the world. For such an accessible and renewable resource, bamboo is extremely underused, but it could change the face of design and help create structures that last forever.