Houses Made From Bamboo Thanks to GluBam!
The University of Hunan, China, has developed a new type of environmentally friendly residential building, a house whose sub-structure is made entirely from bamboo! Using a new product called “GluBam®” the Hunan University, Institute of Modern Bamboo and Wood Composite Structure Team worked in conjunction with the Changsha Bamboo Kaisen co-operation to build a wonderfully eco-friendly home made entirely from sustainable bamboo.
Hunan University is located in Changsha which is the Capital of the Hunan Province, the university dates back to the Yuelu Academy which was founded in 976 A.D. making it one of the oldest higher education institutions in the world! So it’s no surprise that they have managed to come up with such an innovative solution to building green.
Professor Yan Xiao is head of the Task Force of Independent Innovation of Modern Bamboo Structures and he is the inventor of GluBam® which uses a patented technology to glue together strips of bamboo to make extremely strong timber.
A large number of Chinese houses are constructed using masonry, concrete or steel. These construction methods are generally not environmentally friendly. Whether it is steel, cement or masonry they are all materials which take large amounts of energy to produce and their manufacturing generates high levels of pollution. In an attempt to improve Chinese housing the Hunan Changzhutan region began investigating how to construct houses using far less energy and producing less waste. This is where Professor Yan Xiao came up with the idea for GluBam®.
Bamboo has the right physical and mechanical properties to naturally make it a green building material and the Hunan Province is one of the leading regions in China for cultivation of bamboo as a material for products. These factors made the Hunan Province a great place to start the research of how to exploit the properties of bamboo for large scale building projects. However this did not mean the challenge was easily overcome. At the time the research started the bamboo industry in the area was still low tech and mainly low production quantities. The bamboo economy had not yet started to generate a lot of interest.
Professor Yan Xiao’s research group conducted a systematic study into the production of bamboo timbers, and pioneered the methods for modern bamboo structured housing. The aim was to enrich the structure of bamboo as the main material used in construction for housing and bridges, at the same time as improving the overall level of the bamboo industry in the area.
Yan Xiao’s team aimed to achieve the following;
- Create a new sustainable building material
- Add new points of economic growth in their local region
- Increase the local bamboo farm incomes
- Promote social neo-rural construction
Professor Yan Xiao’s research group successfully produced the world’s first modern bamboo structured pedestrian bridge in Leiyang and his GluBam® product received an innovation award from the Popular Science group.
But the team weren’t satisfied with just building a foot bridge, they turned their talents to building a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house using North American structural design standards but using entirely GluBam® instead of regular framing lumber. The result was an eco friendly home built with sustainable materials able to withstand the local weather as well as strong earthquakes.
The University of Hunan is located at the foot of the picturesque Yuelu mountains so they are in a perfect location for green inspiration, checkout the view on this Google Map below;
View Larger Map
So what are the main benefits of using Bamboo as a construction material?
- A bamboo timber framed house can be assembled quickly: Using the GluBam® Bamboo timbers and western timber framed home construction plans the house was built very quickly. The process used was very similar to North American-style light wood structure residential housing. The use of the Bamboo structure allowed for a shallower foundation than the traditional masonry or concrete homes which saved time. The main construction period took eight workers just 100 working days to complete compared to the normal 6 – 8 months for the masonry / concrete houses.
- The bamboo home exhibits good resistance to earthquakes: The light weight yet extremely tough bamboo structures absorb seismic forces. The box-shaped structure components interact well to absorb tremors and vibrations, maintaining structural integrity even in strong earthquakes.
- Bamboo has good insulation properties: Bamboo has a natural organic polymer body, its structure of fiber bundles and thin-walled cells means it has low heat conduction and is an excellent insulator. The bamboo house had cavities filled with thermal insulation and fire-resistant materials. When compared to other homes in the region the bamboo structure greatly reduced energy consumption for heating and cooling.
- The bamboo house was extremely cheap: The bamboo frame of the house cost about 950 Chinese Yuan which is about $140 USD!!! Also, once the infrastructure for large scale production of bamboo lumber is in place the cost of housing will be further reduced. The overall cost of building the house was very comparable to a traditional Chinese concrete structure but the environmental benefits are huge.
The finished home in the Hunan Province looks great, see above, so next time you see a timber framed home being built lets hope they’re using this fabulous new bamboo product instead of traditional lumber. Hoepfully the Hunan Province and Professor Yan Xiao’s team can increase production of the GluBam® lumber and teach license out the production methods to other companies to help this sustainable material spread throughout the construction industry.
Take part in our bamboo home poll;
We believe that bamboo houses are the next big thing, there is a continuing trend of big manufacturers turning to bamboo products due to the sustainability of the material. There are many bamboo products for home decor now;
Once you build your entire house from bamboo timber you can top it off with custom bamboo shades for the windows.