Building A Small Bamboo Structure In Holland

Student Name: Jelle Hamers

Name of Project: Building a Small Bamboo Structure in Holland

Year attended Bamboo U Online Immersion:  February 2021

Country:  The Netherlands

Profession/ University: Yacht builder

My name is Jelle Hamers and I live in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. As a yacht builder and carpenter I am used to working with curves and flowing lines, as with bamboo.

What I like most about bamboo is that it is a purely a natural product - no two bamboo poles are the same - and this makes working with this material a creative process where your ability to solve problems and find solutions is stimulated.

In the summer of 2019 I saw a TED talk by Elora Hardy and got inspired. After googling lots of bamboo stuff I came across Bamboo U and signed up for the Bamboo U 11 day intensive course in Bali which started in August of the same year. This was such an overwhelming experience that I could not let go. I had received so much information in 11 days, that back in Amsterdam I did not know where to start. So when early this year the first Bamboo U Online Immersion was offered I did not hesitate and signed up!

What I liked most about this Bamboo U Online Course is the quality and amount of information combined with live sessions of experts in the field. A big advantage is that all information can be found at any time at the push of a button and you can easily connect with other bamboo lovers on the Bamboo U Community Platform. During the online course, students worked on our own projects and participated in weekly group sessions with a Bamboo U Facilitator and fellow students to receive feedback and support on your bamboo projects and journey, this was very inspiring and motivational.

Here in Holland it will be difficult to build a bamboo house using round poles, so instead I decided to start small and create a shed or greenhouse that could serve as a small multipurpose structure. The idea is to make a modular structure by using bamboo frames of the same size which can be connected or scaled to the preferable size.

This is a structure built by students during the Bamboo U Immersion in Bali for the Green School Campus. This served as inspiration for my personal bamboo project.

The Bamboo Building Concept

Concept and Structural Models

I adjusted the conceptual model until I felt it was aesthetically correct. Finally, I decided I would be a full scale model. Because of this I found out that if I wanted to keep my structure small I would need more height. So I decided to raise the structure which resulted in the final model.

Final model (size: lenght 5,50 metre,  width 1,90 metre, height 3,20 metre)

I chose to keep it simple and only work with bamboo splits (black Java bamboo) which were available here in a size of 10 mm thick, 40 mm wide and 3 metres long. I glued two splits together for more strength and as a result I got a beautiful looking bamboo strip.

The total structure consisted of 4 arches each of equal diameter. 4 support strips of 3.60 mtr and the roof consists of 14 strips of 3 mtr. The roof was put together as a square grid after which it was pressed into a diamond shape and then pulled over the round arches creating a hyperbolic shape. This is the method of construction I learnt when I was in Bali and which was also covered in the online course.

Building the Bamboo Structure

I bought black java bamboo splits at Bamboo Import Europe in Beverwijk Holland. This is about 30 kilometres from Amsterdam. They have a reasonable range of bamboo from round poles to splits in various shapes and sizes.

Because the length of the splits was only 3 metres and I needed 4.20 metres for the arches. I extended the splits by means of a scarf joint.

I laminated the 4 round arches over a mould and template so that they have the same radius. The splits were glued with epoxy.


Final result prefab structure, ready to go!

I started by assembling the arches on a temporary frame. Mounted with M8 threaded rods on the frame and tied together at the top with rope.

This is the roof grid in its initial form tied up with elastic string.

Here, the roof grid is pushed into a diamond shape and pulled over the arches to create the hyperbolic shape. The whole is tied to the arches.

Here, the four additional roof supports were placed.

The final model in real life.

Now that I have the final model at full scale I got the idea to replace the temporary frame for a seat. For this I want to make two benches with backrests, which I will mount on a platform so that it becomes a solid base where I can mount the structure on. What I learned and what I really liked about this process was that you can build a structure without a drawing. As long as you have the scale model around you can take your measurements from there.

Actually, you could say that the model is your 3d drawing!

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About the author
Jelle Hamers | Yacht Builder and Carpenter

Jelle Hamers live in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. As a yacht builder and carpenter, he used to working with curves and flowing lines, as with bamboo.

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