BAMBOO



Bamboo

Bamboo belongs to the family of grasses. Grasses are plants, which typically have one seed leaf and continue to grow with narrow leaves from their base. The family includes “true grasses”, sedges and rushes. The Chair of Architecture and Construction at FCL is mostly interested in true grasses such as bamboo and cerials, since their characteristics show a high potential for taking tensile stress.

Looking at available local resources, the “magic triangle” contains one of the most neglected building materials in the world so far: Bamboo. Most developing territories today with an ever-growing speed of population increase and with it an ever-increasing need for housing are to be found in a belt around the equator. And also here, bamboo is usually the fastest growing, affordable and local available natural resource, which has outstanding constructive qualities. Bamboo grows much faster than wood and is usually available in great quantities and it is easy to obtain. It is also known for its unrivalled capacity to capture carbon and could therefore play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions world wide. Developing territories around the equator belt could use this capacity even as an income source, selling CO2 certificates in a global market.

Global natural habitat of bamboo

Bamboo is extremely resistant to tensile stress and is therefore one of nature`s most extreme products. In principle, bamboo is with regard to its mechanical-technological properties superior to timber and even to reinforcement steel in terms of the ratio of liveload and deadweight [1]. The “hinterland” of Singapore offers a huge potential for developing new ideas to use bamboo not only in rod structures but also as composite material in an added value chain mentality, which will help developing territories to build up supply chains domestically and therefore reduce their dependencies on imported building materials. New technologies of bamboo composite productions allow for a new view on already elaborated methodologies of the 1950`ies and 60`ies by the US Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory [2] and the Clemson Agricultural College [3]. The research will focus to develop new products, based on bamboo as one of the most efficient and fastest growing resources in the equator belt.


[1] Klaus Dunkelberg: Bamboo as Building Material, IL 31, Institut für leichte Flächentragwerke (IL), Stuttgart 1985
[2] Francis Brink and Paul Rush: Bamboo Reinforced Concrete Construction, US Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory, California, 1966
[3] H. E. Glenn: Bamboo reinforcement in portland cement concrete, Engineering Experiment Station, Clemson Agricultural College, South Carolina, Bulkletin Nr. 4, May 1950

Bamboo Composite Reinforcement at SuperMaterial in London

SuperMaterial is a major public exhibition by The Built Environment Trust celebrating the essential, and often hidden, elements of our surroundings. Delving into the world of academia and science, we identify the latest laboratory-based discoveries and demonstrate how they will change our world – informing the R&D departments of today and transforming the buildings of our future. The project will also explore how the historical application of raw elements and minimally processed goods – the ‘super materials’ of their time – have shaped our urban fabric.

The show exhibits bamboo composite reinforcement produced by the Assistant Professorship Dirk E. Hebel at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore, the ETH Zürich in Switzerland. The display is on show at the Building Centre in London from February through April 2017.

View the SuperMaterial online exhibition here.

Engineering bamboo – a green alternative under basic research Part 3

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Hebel, Dirk E., Felix Heisel, Alireza Javadian, Mateusz Wielopolski, Simon Lee, Philipp Müller, Karsten Schlesier (2016). Engineering bamboo – a green alternative under basic research Part 3, in: a+u 550, Feature: Vo Trong Nghia Architects, 2016:07, Japan Architecture and Urbanism, Tokyo, Japan

Essay Series: Engineering bamboo – a green alternative under basic research Part 3, Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel: The Advanced Fibre Composite Laboratory in Singapore investigates new methods and procedures to produce a high-strength building material out of natural bamboo fibres. If successful, the research could provide a starting point for the introduction of new and adapted technologies that take a widespread natural resource as their basic premise and give reason for people who live in the tropical belt to foster one of the most common plants in the sub-tropical climate zone.

Bamboo Composite Materials at Constellation.s in Bordeaux

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On Thursday June 2nd, constellation.s – an exhibition by arc en reve centre of Architecture in Bordeaux, France – opened its doors with a contribution by the Assistant Professorship Dirk E. Hebel entitled Bamboo Composite Materials. The show displays test samples from the material research, especially focusing on the interface of bamboo composites and concrete.

From the curators: “In response to the worldwide transformations that are profoundly affecting the conditions in which we live, constellation.s will present individual and collective initiatives providing perspectives on tomorrow’s challenges in terms of how the urban environment is made.
 In response to fear, inward-lookingness, and extremism, constellation.s encourages critical thinking to help us understand the world we live in. In response to a rising tide of images, words, and spectacle, constellation.s focuses on creativity and the ways ordinary people invent their daily lives. Constellation.s embraces points of view from a range of disciplines, involving researchers, writers, architects, engineers and economists reflecting upon contemporary reality. Constellation.s will present testimonials, processes, and situations from the four corners of the world: glimmers of hope pointing to new possible horizons and ways of living together in complex societies.”

For more information, please click here.
Constellations will be open to the public until 25th September.

Engineering bamboo – a green technical alternative Part 2

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Hebel, Dirk E., Felix Heisel, Alireza Javadian, Mateusz Wielopolski, Simon Lee, Philipp Müller, Karsten Schlesier (2016). Engineering bamboo – a green economic alternative Part 2, in: a+u 549, Feature: RCR Arqitectes, 2016:06, Japan Architecture and Urbanism, Tokyo, Japan

Essay Series: Engineering bamboo – a green technical alternative Part 2, Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel: At the Advanced Fibre Composite Laboratory in Singapore, a new mechanical processing for raw bamboo has been developed, which leads to a fibrous material with physical features that are mainly defined by the bamboo species. This material is used as a natural fibre source for the production of a high-tensile fibre reinforced composite material aiming for the construction industry. Thereby, controlling the parameters of the underlying hot press fabrication process turned out to be crucial for a systematic tuning of the tensile capacities of the resulting composite materials.

Engineering bamboo – a green economic alternative Part1

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Hebel, Dirk E., Felix Heisel, Alireza Javadian, Mateusz Wielopolski, Simon Lee, Philipp Müller, Karsten Schlesier (2016). Engineering bamboo – a green economic alternative Part 1, in: a+u, Feature: big and small, 2016:05, Japan Architecture and Urbanism, Tokyo, Japan

Essay Series: Engineering bamboo – a green economic alternative Part 1 Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel: Steel-reinforced concrete is the most common building material in the world, and developing countries use close to 90 per cent of the cement and 80 per cent of the steel consumed by the global construction sector. However, very few developing countries have the ability or resources to produce their own steel or cement, forcing them into an exploitative import-relationship with the developed world. Out of 54 African nations, for instance, only two are producing steel. The other 52 countries all compete in the global marketplace for this ever-more-expensive, seemingly irreplaceable material.

SUDU – the Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit – an architectural experiment

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Hebel, Dirk E., Melakeselam Moges, Zara Gray, in collaboration with Something Fantastic (2015). SUDU – the Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit, Manual and Research, Ruby Press, Berlin, Germany

SUDU―the Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit―is a full-scale prototype for an affordable, two-story house built with local materials and traditional building techniques in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Developed in a collaborative endeavor between the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development and ETH Zurich, SUDU ties in with the rich tradition of loam construction while at the same time taking a fresh look at how to adapt this tradition to contemporary needs. Recapitulating SUDU’s idiosyncratic construction process in two lavishly illustrated volumes, this publication details the building techniques employed, such as rammed earth, mud bricks, and timbrel vaulting. The first volume additionally explores the history of Ethiopian architecture, the postcolonial nature of its current construction industry, and the challenges of the country’s rapid urbanization. The second volume, a manual with more than 600 detailed drawings and instructions, demonstrates how to build a house, step-by-step, with the most readily available building material―earth.

You can order the book right here.

Bamboo: The Green Reinforcement

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Public lecture by Alireza Javadian, PhD researcher in the Assistant Professorship Dirk E. Hebel at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore, on November 26th at  ENAC | School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering at EPFL in Lausanne titled “ Bamboo, The Green Reinforcement “. This talk introduced the research on new bamboo composite materials carried out at Advanced Fiber Composite Laboratory in Singapore and Zürich, featuring high tensile capacity composites with applications for building and construction sector.

World Bamboo Congress

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Keynote speech by Asst. Prof. Dirk E. Hebel at the World Bamboo Congress in South Korea on September 20th, 2015. From the organizers: “In the last 20 years, the WBC as a series of Sessions & Demonstrations has grown to attract participants from more than 30 countries around the world, including world-renowned experts in bamboo design, construction, and architecture. For any professional that works with this amazing natural resource — whether a botanist, biologist, horticulturist, architect, artist, designer, businessperson, government representative, non-profit organization, or economist, the WBC has been an ideal opportunity to meet and develop collaborations in research and development, project or business development, while at the same time, advancing the social and environmental goals derived from the various applications of bamboo.”

Sand, Bamboo and Waste research exhibited at BodenSchätzeWerte

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On August 24, focusTerra opened its new exhibition entitled “BodenSchätzeWerte” or Earth’s Treasures at the ETH Zurich NO Building. Focusing on the past and future’s use of our earth’s resources, the exhibition also features several research topics of the Assistant Professorship for Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel.

From the curator:
Mineral resources play a fundamental role in our daily lives. We take their availability for granted and their worldwide consumption is steadily on the rise. What are the long-term consequences of our increasing use of non-renewable resources? What challenges lie ahead for us?

This exhibition is about the formation, mining and use of mineral resources, and how we deal with products we no longer need. What can we do to ensure that resources are extracted in an economical, environmentally friendly and socially responsible way and that they are used and reused for as long and as efficiently as possible?

The exhibition will be on display from 25th August 2015 until 28th February 2016.
More information can be found here.

The Bamboo Revival: Green Structures

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Article published at Sourceable: Bamboo is one of the world’s oldest structural materials and has been used in construction for centuries. Now new research could potentially bolster its continued resurgence and use as a material in green structures. Steel-reinforced concrete is the most common building material in the world. Developing countries use close to 90 per cent of the cement and 80 per cent of the steel consumed by the global construction sector. According to research by the chair of architecture and construction at Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) in the Singapore-ETH Centre, 70 per cent of damage in the built environment today is caused by corrosion of steel inside reinforced concrete structures. In addition, steel is also costly and energy hungry when it comes to production and transportation. Read more here.

Bamboo: The Green Reinforcement

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Doctoral Researcher Alireza Javadian of the Assistant Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel spoke on February 13th 2015 as part of the “Friday Talks” at the Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore (URA) on “Bamboo: The Green Reinforcement”. His talk introduced the audience to the research of new bamboo composite materials, featuring high tensile capacity with a variety of different application possibilities.

More on the Friday Talk Series can be found here.

Bambus statt Beton

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Bislang sind Häuser und Brücken aus Bambus Einzelfälle. Forscher von der ETH Zürich wollen jetzt aus dem Süßgrasgewächs einen ökologischen und günstigen Massenbaustoff für die Städte von morgen entwickeln. Ein Beitrag von Oliver Ristau im Technology Review Magazin für Innovation. (article in German only)

‘Future Cities: Research in Action’ exhibition opened at the URA Centre Singapore

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The ‘Future Cities: Research in Action’ exhibition opened on 23 Jan 2015 at the URA Centre atrium in Singapore It will run till 13 Mar 2015. Focused on cities, urbanisation, and global environmental sustainability, it presents research conducted by FCL towards the development of sustainable future cities. In this context, the Assistant Profesorship of Dirk E. Hebel (who also curated the show) exhibits their work on alternative future building materials. In general, the exhibition features the work of more than 120 FCL researchers from over 30 countries over the past four years. Integrating science, design and technology, they tackle urban challenges at multiple scales, from building materials and systems to neighbourhoods, districts, cities and their hinterlands. Click here for more information.

Ministry of Education (MOE) Singapore Innovation Fund Grant

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The Ministry of Education in Singapore has awarded  the Assistant Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel together with the Republic Polytechnic Singapore 320.000 Singapore Dollars within the framework of the “Translational R&D and Innovation Fund Grant” for the jointly submitted project: “Maximize bonding between Sustainable Bamboo Composite Reinforcement and Concrete”. The project is set for two years and lead by Dr. Leong Wen Shing in collaboration with the group of Prof. Hebel in Singapore. The award acknowledges the successful collaboration between the Republic Polytechnic and the Future Cities Laboratory which started in 2013.

Exhibition at the Republic Polytechnic Open House

RP Open House

The bamboo composite research collaboration between the Assistant Professorship of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel in Singapore and the Republic Polytechnic Singapore (Dr Wen Shing) was highlighted again this year from Jan 8th to Jan 10th at the Republic Polytechnic Open House 2015 Event.

The Bamboo-Alchemist in Swiss Newspaper Tagesanzeiger

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Swiss daily newspaper Tagesanzeiger recently published a report in the research activities of the Assistant Professorship Dirk E. Hebel at the ETH Zürich and the FCL Singapore. You can read the full article here in German.

Bamboo Composite at Gewerbemuseum Winterthur

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The Chair of Architecture and Construction is exhibiting its bamboo composite material in the exhibition “Magie des Einfachen” (The Magic of the Simple) at the Gewerbemuseum Winterthur from 16th November 2014 to 29th March 2015. Featuring the Brazilian Alvaro Abreu and the German Hans Hansen, the exhibition shows a variety of bamboo applications in the fields of art and construction. More information directly from the museum here and below:

Magie des Einfachen
Der Brasilianer Alvaro Abreu schnitzt Löffel aus Bambus, Hunderte, Tausende, seit vielen Jahren. Erst in einer späten Lebensphase hat er damit angefangen. Jeden Tag einen Löffel, immer aus einem einzigen Stück Bambus, keiner ist wie der andere. Der renommierte deutsche Fotograf Hans Hansen hat sich in seiner fotografischen Arbeit eingehend mit dem Werk von Alvaro Abreu beschäftigt und hat unzählige Bambuslöffel sortiert, geordnet und in einen Rhythmus gebracht, mal in strenger Balance, dann wieder in chaotischer Zufälligkeit. Das Gewerbemuseum Winterthur holt Alvaro Abreus Reich der Bambuslöffel gemeinsam mit den fotografischen Arbeiten von Hans Hansen als Schweizer Premiere nach Winterthur.

Bamboo Composite with Haute Innovation in Cologne and Jönköping

Smart Office Materials Ausstellung

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In collaboration with Haute Innovation, the Chair of Architecture and Construction exhibited its bamboo composite material at two recent international material fairs: from 21st to 23rd October at the Orgatec 2014 in Cologne, Germany as part of the Smart Office Materials exhibition, and between 11th and 14th November at the Subcontractor 2014 in Jönköping, Sweden.

Marta H. Wisniewska and Felix Heisel presented at World Sustainable Building Conference

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At this years World Sustainable Building Conference, the Chair of Architecture and Construction Dirk E. Hebel presented two papers. In Session 48, Felix Heisel talked about “Bamboo Reinforcement – a Sustainable Alternative to Steel”, while Marta H. Wisniewska presented “Waste – a Resource for Sustainable and Resilient Future Cities” in Session 90.

Brown Bag Lunch Talk of Asst. Prof. Dirk E. Hebel at Schweizer Baumuster-Centrale Zürich

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On thursday, October 30th, 12:15pm, Asst Prof. Dirk E. Hebel will give a brown bag lunch talk at the Schweizer Baumuster-Centrale on the research of alternative building materials at ETH Zürich and FCL Singapore. For more information please visit www.baumuster.ch

Marta H. Wisniewska and Alireza Javadian at the World Sustainable Building Conference 2014

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At this year’s World Sustainable Building Conference in Barcelona WSBC2014, the Chair of Architecture and Construction is presenting two papers on its recent research. Marta H. Wisniewska is speaking on “Waste – a Resource for Sustainable and Resilient future Cities” on 29th October between 3pm and 4:30pm in Session 90: “Construction systems and materials”. Alireza Javadian is presenting “Bamboo Reinforcement – A Carbon Alternative to Steel” on 29th October between 10am and 11:30am in Session 48: “Resources and Waste”. For the Conference program, please visit here.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung reports on Bamboo Composite Material research

NZZ Bambus statt stahl

‘Bambus statt Stahl’ (Bamboo instead of Steel) has been published in Switzerland’s leading daily newspaper ‘Neue Zürcher Zeitung’ on Sunday 27th July. The article offers an overview on the recent developments of the Assistant Professorship Dirk E. Hebel in its bamboo composite material research and led to a wide public interest in Switzerland and Europe. The full article can be accessed here.

UN Habitat – Urban Gateway on bamboo research

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Very few developing countries have the resources to produce their own steel, and without this material tall buildings and urban development are all but impossible. But what if there were a local, renewable material that could be used instead of steel in reinforced-concrete buildings? And what if that substitute could be manufactured easily? These questions have motivated Dirk Hebel, an assistant professor of architecture and construction at the Future Cities Laboratory, in Singapore, to investigate a bamboo fiber composite as a possible substitute for steel reinforcement in concrete. The Future Cities Laboratory is a research arm of ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule) Zürich, in Switzerland, and is the first program under the newly formed Singapore-ETH Centre for Global Environmental Sustainability, which conducts multidisciplinary research to foster urbanization that conforms to the principles of sustainable development. If the tests on the bamboo composite are successful, developing countries will be able to manufacture and build their own urban centers without costly foreign steel imports, according to Hebel.

Read the full article here.

Bambus statt Stahl – Radio Interview on WDR5 Leonardo


On July 31st, German Radio WDR5 reported on the chair’s bamboo composite research at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore. Above you can listen to the short interview with Prof. Dirk E. Hebel in German.