Designing A Multi-Purpose Bamboo Pavilion

BAMBOO U - Designing A Crown-like Bamboo Pavilion by Kai Pobre (1)

Here Kai’s story of designing a bamboo pavilion for her final project at the Bamboo U Online Course. She plans to build the project in 2023 in the Philippines.

My name is Kai, an Exhibit Manager for an art and science foundation, working primarily on exhibition and public art in the Philippines’ premiere central business district, Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig, Metro Manila. My background is in Philippine Arts, Arts Management, Archaeology, and Interior Design. For more than 13 years, I have been an avid promoter of Philippine artistry and ingenuity in all the projects that I handled particularly at The Mind Museum, the Philippines’ first world-class science museum, and ArtBGC, the public art program of BGC, mainly on murals and art installations.

I have long been fascinated by bamboo and how beautiful it can be. I have a bamboo bike which I used to ride to work almost daily. During the pandemic, I chanced upon an image of Sharma Springs online, and forever changed my view of how beautiful a bamboo house can be. In the Philippines, bamboo houses are the usual “bahay kubo”, a cube house that is predominant in the countryside and considered a house for the poor. None of the houses offered in the market are to my liking and I dream that one day, I will be able to design and build my own house and other structures with bamboo. Attending the Bamboo U Online course would be a good bamboo foundation prior to attending the 11 Day Build and Design Course in Bali and being hands-on.

The Building Concept

The initial concept of the structure was a Lotus Yoga Shala as shown in the drawing. But while I was doing the bamboo concept model, I had a hard time bending my bamboo sticks and the length of my available sticks was short. I still pursued bending what I could with a circular skylight in the middle. Lo and behold, the form came out differently and looked like a crown. Thus, I let the bamboo lead me to a new design concept - that of a crown! I always wanted to name my projects in Filipino to give it a local flavor, so I decided to call it “Korona”.


Developing the Concept and Final Model

While I was happy with where the initial concept model led me, I was not satisfied with the pole running in the middle of each of the openings. I tried redoing it with the arch intersection situated at the corners so these don’t get in the way. The circular dome skylight remained in the middle while the ground connections were centralized on four corners, making it more open on four sides. During the development process, I decided to use the grid-shell structure, which was made of bamboo splits since it seemed to make more sense to use in this design, with a combination of pole and split arches and rectangular openings. It allowed them to have more flexibility in achieving the undulating surface of the crown.

As the concept changed it led to changes in the final bamboo structural model. The initial bamboo yoga shala is a different take on the first concept model, despite having the same scale. It now has a more cathedral-looking interior with arches, a symmetrical structure, and a dome skylight in the middle that projects a shadow of a bamboo cross. It no longer had misplaced arches that are grounded in the middle of each opening, hence, creating a more expansive view.

The roof support is now made of bamboo split grids to create curves and the form of a crown. Each of the pointed roof openings is directed toward the north, east, south, and west to establish our bearing in this world, our mother earth.

The main structure will be made of “Botong” or Dendrocalamus asper while the grid shell (splits) and roof (flattened bamboo) will be made of “Kawayan Tinik” or Bambusa blumeana. The floor will be made of lotus-shaped “Lipak” panels or laminated Giant bamboo slats in the middle of the cement floor.

My main learning from the Bamboo U Online Course is the importance of creating a bamboo model in developing your design concept and letting the modeling process guide you to the final outcome. It is quite the reverse of conventional architecture and exhibition design where the drawings remain supreme. Here, I learned the importance of whittling your bamboo sticks to the right scale, as much as possible. I had a lot of bamboo cuts on my fingers in the process but it was well worth it.

Crown-like Bamboo Pavilion by Kai Pobre (1)
Crown-like Bamboo Pavilion by Kai Pobre (2)

Building the Structure in The Future

The Korona Pavilion is an ode to the Philippines’ bamboo queen who owns the Carolina Bamboo Garden, a 5-hectare bambusetum in the mountains of Antipolo, Rizal, which is an hour away from Metro Manila. The bamboo will be sourced from the same garden that was established in 2000, with an abundant source of matured Dendrocalamus asper and Bambusa blumeana. A treatment facility is planned to be put up in the adjacent 2-hectare property.

The Korona Pavilion will employ the rup rup technique of bending bamboo, the grid-shell bamboo splits, and layered curved splits for the skylight. The pavilion is planned to be constructed in 2023. A team of bamboo artisans will be scouted from known parts of the Philippines that make traditional bamboo construction techniques. They will also be trained in modern bamboo construction techniques along the process.

BAMBOO U - Crown-like Bamboo Pavilion by Kai Pobre (4)
BAMBOO U - Crown-like Bamboo Pavilion by Kai Pobre (3)

The Bamboo U Online course was very comprehensive and each lesson was timed well, making it easy to digest. The most important thing I learned is that designing with bamboo starts from the source and not the other way around. Knowing where to get your mature bamboo and treating it is the first step. And the best bamboo to use is what you have in your locality. There is a myriad of ways to design with bamboo and your only limitation is your imagination.

About the author
Kai Pobre | Bamboo Enthusiast & Exhibit Manager

Kai is a bamboo enthusiast from the Philippines who dreams of designing and building with bamboo soon. She is an Exhibit Manager for an art and science foundation. Her background is in Philippine Arts, Arts Management, Archaeology, and Interior Design.

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