The project in a lesser known village called ‘Thal’ in Alibaug, though insignificant in architectural stature, serves a purpose which addresses larger issues – building tourism involving local communities, showcasing of bamboo as a renewable raw material and highlighting bamboo construction as a sustainable green building practice. Designer, George Joel of Greenearth Culture gives a brief.
Given that Alibaug is an established tourist destination, for the client, an investor creating a weekend resort on his small plot of land was an obvious choice, The tourism agency operating the property sought our services to implement bamboo dwellings to cash in on the city tourists looking for a unique residential option during weekend jaunts.
Spread across the site of approximately 8000sft, the construction covers 984sft only. The portion of the property which had denser plantation was left untouched and the bamboo cottages were built on the remaining land. Located in the vicinity of a beach, with no view or an interesting surrounding, it was imperative to create an inward looking private haven offering an environment of coziness. Following the concept of a cluster of homes around a meeting place in a village, there are two cottages on each side of the boundary with a central lounge to share bonding time amongst each other. The lounge has an inviting seating arrangement in one half, followed by an eight-seater dining table in the center and a serving & pantry counter in the other half.
After showcasing the possibilities of bamboo construction from 100sqft gazebos to large pavilions of 3000sft with a ground plus one storey structures, we found a dearth of assignments for large bamboo structures. Though architects are hesitant to specify bamboo construction for any projects, the evident clientele welcoming bamboo construction has been the hospitality industry.
The project involving working with traditional artisans was a ‘back to school’ experience, learning the ways of the rural artisans with age old crafting knowledge to create adaptable new applications for the urban market. More than an architectural project, the bamboo cottages were a result of the need of bringing to use a forgotten raw material and of displaying dormant traditional crafting skills.
To cater to this industry that is tempted by the novelty of a bamboo dwelling for increasing the USP of the property and the ROI, we have developed standardized modular formats of columns, beams, trusses, rafters, purlins etc. With an assemblage of trained high skilled artisans, the firm can build assembly of average sized cottages of 200 to 350sft, 100 to 1000sft gazebos, three to seven span bridge, restaurants’, spas, walls and gateways as a complete solution for a wholesome bamboo resort. The bamboo structures are endorsed for stability by an expert structural engineer deft with bamboo construction technique applicable to the local variety of bamboo.
Since it was pre- determined to use local variety of bamboo following the tenets of sustainable building practices, we employed the 35 to 50mm diameter Oxythenenthra Stocksi species of bamboo abundantly available locally along the coastal stretch from Maharashtra to the Southern tip of Kerala. The basic principles used for bamboo for construction comprise:
• Keeping the head and feet of the bamboo above water
• Creating large overhangs to protect bamboo from constant weathering
• Anchoring bamboo shelters with heavy footings as they tend to fly off due to light weight
• Using lower diameter for larger spans
The core requirement of larger sections of bamboo required to tackle longer lengths and large spans was solved by the bamboo bunching technique i.e. bunching low diameter bamboos to achieve bigger sections. The use of spliced joints for longer lengths than the 15ft usable lengths allowed us to craft columns the size of up to 0.5m wide to 10m long to achieve wide spans of up to 12m x 24m long and 9m in height.