Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 National Architectural Thesis Competition - Entry No.11


Our cities are built with these two materials, Concrete and steel. These are the two materials that are widely used by the construction industry. These are materials that are strong and would last for decades. But these are also the materials with very high energy and greenhouse gas emission in their process. About 8% of the carbon emission comes from these materials. And until now we haven’t found any alternative to it.

It won`t last, It will not survive typhoons; it is a poor man’s timber. Bamboo construction is perceived to be ephemeral/ temporary. But little did they know that there are countless possibilities on what you can do with this material. The misconceptions mentioned above needs to be revolutionized in order to make bamboo based construction acceptable. There is a need to educate people that in building houses, simple technologies are not necessarily inferior to modern ones. It must be pointed out that indigenous materials like bamboo, though lightweight, can make a house permanent if properly joined and pretreated, and yet have the advantage of being relatively easier to modify or replace than heavier and more expensive materials.

The current government setup for bamboo research and development of forest products are divided into three divisions. The production side is under the DENR and the utilization side is under DOST. There is a gap between the production and utilization process. There are no continuous collaborations between these agencies which yield to the sluggish pace of development of forest-based product industry, such as the bamboo industry.

The rationalization to set-up an integrated Research and Development Center for bamboo is imperative in the purview of the current set-up. This could be the main reason why the bamboo-based industry cannot develop full blast due to the disjointed efforts of the government to push for its total development. It is on this premise that this proposal is sought to design the establishment of an integrated R&D Center for Bamboo. This Center is envisioned to efficiently cater complete supply chain of bamboo development - from production, utilization and trade/marketing and policy on Research and Development. At the same time it aims to collate the segregated functions for the research and development of bamboo-based technologies into a central facility for the research and development of the said forest product in the fields of construction, agriculture, handicrafts and furniture here in the Philippines. This project would serve as a catalyst for the development of the bamboo industry and the standardization of the bamboo-based products and technologies in the Philippines. 

Boards Explanation

The design concept for the project is “Ceaseless Evolution: An architectural translation of the rhizome philosophy”. Rhizome is seed for the development or growth of a bamboo plant; it serves as the catalyst for growth. In totality, the project aims to achieve the relation and connectivity of things in an amorphous manner, meaning in an unconventional and unpredictable pattern. The main translation of the concept was done by providing passively-furnished nodal discussion points within the complex in a macro to micro approach so they can discuss things and ideas which randomly pops out of their mind. Because ingenious information and technologies starts with a single piece of idea and it then needs another piece of associated idea for it to develop that when combined together, turns into an imaginable concept.

There are four sub-concepts for the project:

First is Connectivity – it means that “every part of the system should be connected to another part in any possible way”. This is a macro approach on connecting the buildings within the complex and it was translated by providing nodal discussion points, which serves as the building’s connection to another building, that are strategically placed within the site.

Next is Multiplicity and Suppressing Rupture – meaning “In a rhizome, all parts are connected to another and these parts should also be connected to the smaller parts of the system”. Meaning, things should be connected not just in a macro scale, but also in a micro scale approach. This was translated into the design by providing nodal discussion points, which are tactically placed, inside the buildings, and also within the interior space of the offices. 

Last is Heterogeneity – it states that “a rhizome is a connection between things of different nature”. This was architecturally translated through the use of material. Bamboo was combined with other possible construction material in order to create sustainable composite building products which suits best the needs of the project.

The complex basically is composed of nine curvilinear shape structures which are angled after considering the macro – micro wind patterns within the site and the technical sun path diagram. These structures are then linked by nodal points. These structures provide the spaces for the various needs for the research complex. The Main building which is located on the front part of the site is the brain of the complex. It is a 3-storey building which features a strategically-played roof levels in order to maximize the potential for passive cooling since the site will not be using any mechanical air-conditioning. Its structural elements are made from bundled Giant bamboo placed on a concrete pedestal, its walls are made from rammed earth with bamboo mat board as the main reinforcement and its roof is made from engineered bamboo mat roof sheets for durability purposes. It also features a bamboo helix upon entering the lobby; this helix supports the middle roof layer of the structure and served as an eye catching icon within the building.

Other buildings within the complex are also made from the sustainable and renewable materials same as the main building. These buildings comprises of the following: Material science division, which basically is for the mechanical researches in bamboo, next is the in-house training center where people would be educated on the proper way of producing and utilizing this material. It aims to provide a sustainable development targeting livelihood training for the people. Accompanying the development is the ease of constructing the proposed infrastructure. Next is Carpentry and Treatment processing area where the proto-types are made and where bamboos are treated for various uses. Then The housing units for the people who are training but would be coming from provinces, these a unique element. It uses a pre-shaped bamboo columns from the specie of Guadua Angustifolia or also known as the the Iron Bamboo. It aims to show the users that there are numerous ways to utilize and develop bamboo. Next is the Gallery Building which basically serves as the information knowledge when it comes to bamboo facts and a place where the technologies would be displayed and showcased for the community. And then the canteen building that is designed in a amorphous way in order to lift and to show to the users that this poor man`s timber can be made into an elegant structure. 

The main feature of the project is the Water – Collecting Mycelium - towers which are located at the center of the site. It is a bamboo helix injected with mycelium. A mycelium is a self-growing living organism that when combined with other substance, forms a strong, fire-resistant, and permanent building material. The idea is to inject a composite mycelium organism inside the penetrated internodes of the bamboo within the helix, and let the living organism grow and took the shape of the bamboo culms. After a few weeks It would then transform into a permanent bamboo-mycelium helix with water collecting system, which would serve as a sustainable maintenance in watering the nursery and the plantation. It is combing bamboo with other natural materials in order to produce an unimaginable and strong composite material.

Bamboo construction techniques used in the project are east to understand, reusable, and repeatable. These techniques are used by various institutions and have been proven to work and are safe for human habitation. What the project aim is to become an exemplary model of bamboo construction. Though old, the extensive use of these techniques exhibit a one of a kind facility for the country. It efficiently exhibits the capabilities of bamboo previously ignored by the masses. Through the extensive use of these techniques, the facility exhibits how repeatable and reusable bamboo is when properly utilized.

Green is not always sustainable. Sustainability is a holistic approach in saving Mother Nature - from the production of the material, to its utilization. This is the material of the future. Imagine steel bars growing on land, eleven times cheaper, and made by nature, for nature.


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