The Top 3 Natural Building Materials To Use With Bamboo

Riverstone as Foundation (Elephant Foot Foundation)

In this article we share the top alternative natural building materials that can be used with bamboo buildings.

Integrating different building materials with bamboo helps to improve the building’s efficiency as well as its visual appearance in relation to its context, space, and design aesthetic.

Many different materials can be used along with bamboo, but if you’re wanting to use eco-friendly materials here are the top 3 alternative natural materials we enjoy using with bamboo:

  • Mud and Lime
  • Stones
  • Terracotta

1. Mud and Lime

Mud and lime are natural materials that are regenerative and can be used for different applications within bamboo structures, including walls, inbuilt furniture, and floors.

There are different techniques for using mud for wall construction, these include cob, adobe, rammed earth, and wattle & daub. Each technique has its appropriate context and resulting design aesthetic.

Limestone Wall in Making
Application of Lath and plaster technique using a bamboo frame and lime mixture.

Lime can be used as mortar or as a plaster for masonry walls, as a finish, for flooring, and for the lath & plastering technique of building walls.

Using mud and lime creates different textures and natural color contrasts and therefore works in harmony with the bamboo structure. These materials help to improve indoor air quality and regulate temperature in buildings.

Limestone Finish Floor inside Dapur Naga
Lime floor finishes at Dapur naga, Bamboo U Campus, Bali.

Limestone Wall Integrated into Bamboo Structure
Lime wall finishes are integrated into the bamboo structure.

Process of Making Natural Wall with wattle and daub technique
Application of wattle and daub technique using a flattened bamboo frame and mud mixture.

2. Stones

There are many stones available in the market and it is crucial to choose the right kind of stone that adds value to your bamboo building design.

The main stone types we use in Bali that are locally available are river stones, volcanic stone bricks- locally known as paras, and slate stone locally known as jember. We use river stones as moisture barriers between the foundations and bamboo structural columns. River stones are also used as seating elements and natural terraces inside a space.

Paras is a stone-cut piece that is used to create natural walls, borders, stairs, and pavements that fit nicely within Bali’s natural landscape. Jember slate is a natural stone with unique textures and shapes, one of the best outdoor paving and flooring materials in terms of maintenance.

Riverstone as Foundation (Elephant Foot Foundation)
River stones are used as moisture barriers and for seating with a natural paras stone wall in the back at Dapur Naga, Bamboo U Campus, Bali.

Riverstone, Mudlime Floor, and Terracotta Floor
River stones are used as steps on the contoured terraces at Dapur Naga, Bamboo U Campus, Bali.

Bamboo Structure with Natural Stone Entrance
Jember slate stones are used as paving in the building entrance at Dapur Naga, Bamboo U Campus, Bali.

3. Terracotta

Terracotta is a baked earth product widely used in buildings as tiles for flooring and roofing in many parts of the world. The colour contrast of terracotta blends well with bamboo and creates beautiful aesthetics. Flooring tiles are available in different sizes and shapes. Roofing tiles are available in rectangular and fish scale sizes. But tile roofs for bamboo buildings need to be designed properly and they only work for linear buildings with pretty minimal maintenance.

Terracotta Flooring at Bamboo Building - Dapur Naga
Hexagonal terracotta flooring tiles embedded into the lime flooring at Dapur Naga, Bamboo U Campus, Bali.

Bamboo House
A beautiful two-storey bamboo house with a rectangular terracotta tile roof (OM House, Bali designed by IBUKU).

Limestone Wall and Terracotta tile roof
A beautiful bamboo structure with a fish scale terracotta tile roof at Sayan, Ubud.

Natural and locally sourced materials will make a building more sustainable, but it is always very crucial to use properly processed high-quality materials, well-designed, and skilled construction expertise to make the buildings durable.

About the author
Sai Goutham | Research & Development Manager

Sai joined the Bamboo U team in March 2020 as Research & Development Manager. He is also a natural builder and an architect from India. He has managed many mud and bamboo projects over the years.

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