Bamboo is one of the most amazingly versatile and sustainable building materials available. It grows remarkably fast and in a wide range of climates. It is exceedingly strong for its weight and can be used both structurally and as a finish material. The canes are beautiful when exposed and they can be cut in such a way as to be re-combined into useful products such as bamboo flooring. There is a long vernacular tradition to the use of bamboo in structures in many parts of the world, especially in more tropical climates, where it grows into larger diameter canes. One tricky aspect to the use of bamboo is in the joinery; since its strength comes from its integral structure, it cannot be joined with many of the traditional techniques used with wood. This is where the old ways of building with bamboo can be especially informative. I expect that the value of bamboo as a building material will only become more apparent as we move toward a time of wood scarcity and high costs of energy.
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