Arch Daily: Surprising Material Alert – The Black Bamboo

by | Dec 24, 2017 | Projects

As a construction material, bamboo is resistant, versatile, grows rapidly and is immensely friendly with its own ecosystem and its agroforestry environment. In addition, it presents a large number of species that deliver different diameters and heights. But are there also variations in its color?

We are truly impressed with the work of architects, builders, and artisans who use ‘blond bamboo,’ which moves between yellow and brown tones. These species are abundant and easy to harvest, and therefore are more common and accessible. However, there are a number of species that have a darker coloration and could revolutionize bamboo architecture in the future. Here we present black bamboo.

Despite growing a little slower than the blond species, black bamboo presents an attractive range of dark tones that vary between dark coffee and black, depending on the species and its place of origin.

There are different theories that could explain the dark coloration of these species, but according to Arief Rabik, an expert in the management and production of bamboo forests and director of Indobamboo, could be due to a genetic mutation that would give an evolutionary advantage within forest systems, since black usually absorbs a greater amount of light.

However, Rabik warns us that we should not be seduced by the young black bamboo because although it presents an even darker and aesthetically cleaner coloration, it is still not ready to be used in construction and will crack easily. “Young bamboo is sugar cane, not bamboo,” he says.

Like its more traditional relatives, black bamboo grows mainly in tropical climates, but it can also be found in private collection gardens in South America and Australia, where even darker, jet-black species have been seen.

In some cases, as it is more difficult to find, its value can double that of the blond bamboo species, but there are parallel darkening or dyeing techniques that deliver incredible results through the burning and application of oils.

Featured Species

By mixing different species, black bamboo can be used in all parts of an architectural project; from the structure to landscaping, in addition to building its floors, walls, stairs and any other element.

Structural Species

Dendrocalamus Asper Nigra – Giant Black

The Giant Black or Asper Nigra species, with a typical diameter of 15 cm and a culm thickness (section walls) of 15 mm can be used in the primary structures of a building. The maximum usable length of the Giant Black species is about 18 meters, however, you can get the 20 meters usable with base diameters of more than 20 cm.

Gigantochloa Atroviolacea – Java Black

This species is very versatile and has a typical diameter ranging from 5 to 10 cm, and a length of between 8 and 10 meters.

Ornamental and/or Interior Species

Bambusa Lako – Timor Black

It is characterized by a typical diameter ranging from 3 to 6 cm, and a length that varies between 3 and 6 meters.

Phylustachys Aurea Nigra – Black Aurea

This species is used mostly in decorations and lightweight fencing, with a typical diameter between 1 and 3 cm (may be larger), and a length between 2 and 3 meters.

By Jose Tomas Franco


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