The symphony of bamboo
India is the second largest producer of bamboo in the world with a long tradition of its usage in buildings. The building sector in any country is its largest polluter, and a revival of the usage of bamboo will immensely contribute towards reducing carbon emissions by the sector. The Housing for All by 2022 programme in our country will need more than two crore houses to be constructed in the next six years. The housing sector accounts for 22% of India’s total annual CO 2 emissions.

The symphony of bamboo  The symphony of bamboo
Coming to basic infrastructure services, transport is another guzzler of resources. Our cities need to encourage people to use buses by providing better infrastructure systems. We have 6,000 bus stops in Bengaluru, but only 1,000 of them have shelters! The bus shelters can be made of bamboo along with other materials.

The Metro stretches across the length and breadth of Bengaluru, linking its important intersections. As of May 2016, there are 31 stations in the network. There are a total of 42 stations in Phase I, which are to be completed by the end of 2016. The completed stations, built with conventional methods, require 1.3 lakh tonnes of concrete, 44,500 tonnes of steel bars, and 190 km of high-tension wires weighing 2,900 tonnes.

This is for only one city. Imagine the amount of emissions for infrastructure development for the country. This can be reduced by 10% simply by using bamboo as one of the major building materials. It will serve the triple bottomline of sustainable development: ecological balance, economic prudence and social justice and also meet our development goals so vital for meeting the minimum Human Development Index.

Role of architects
Architectural firms can play a significant role in reducing construction sector pollution by promoting bamboo. In this connection, “Symphony of the Bamboo”, the exhibit of Manasaram Architects at the Venice Biennale 2016 international architecture expo, is of relevance. At the “Time Space Existence” event, it showcases the potential of bamboo for the building sector, especially for developing countries. Manasaram Architects is the only architecture firm from India participating in this event.

The exhibit has four components:
The first shows the firm’s connection to bamboo as a metaphor for social and humble architecture practice which is the need of the hour.

The second part shows the environmental properties of bamboo with its ecological advantages over other high energy materials and how its usage makes lot of sense in the scenario of global warming and frequently occurring natural disasters across the globe.

The third part showcases bamboo-based projects in four categories: residences and housing, community amenity and institutional buildings, tourism and leisure, and infrastructure projects. Bamboo can be used for a broad range of projects — from a small single toilet unit to a proposal for a large Metro station for BMRCL, Bengaluru. This is shown through printed panels, scaled models and videos of the project.

The fourth part is about “How to do it” and shows human resource generation efforts and research and development carried out by Manasaram Architects together with Centre for Green Building Materials and Technology, Bengaluru, and Dayalbagh University, Agra.

The exhibit consists of 11 panels, nine videos, 17 models and a short movie.

Only one more pavilion in the Venice Biennale 2016 exhibited and promoted bamboo exclusively, that of Simon Velez of Columbia, known as the father of bamboo architecture.

Since the exhibition is planned for six months and attracts a large number of visitors, Manasaram Architects is conducting an international hands-on workshop on bamboo titled “Sun breakers for Indian streets” in September, 2016 coinciding with the World Bamboo Day. This will be a bamboo-fabric meta-architecture installation and will be on exhibit till the end of the biennale in November. Global Art Affairs Foundation, University of Venice and the European Cultural Council will be the partners for the workshop.