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In Search of a Specific Bamboo Architecture

Part 2 Dissertation 2005
Yu Cheung
Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong China
Seeking for a new structure that is specifically applicable to bamboo is the theme of this dissertation. Utilizing certain properties of bamboo for the structural behaviour and construction is critical in this process. An experiment-oriented approach is adopted for this thesis, which model making and testing is emphasized.

One would be fascinated by the prevalence of bamboo structures in Hong Kong ranging from scaffoldings for high-rise buildings to temporary shelters and smaller structures for various purposes. Yet there have been few research and discussion about this local phenomenon and new possible way of using bamboo. This dissertation attempted to examine the role of bamboo in conventional constructions and then look for specific way of using it to generate an alternative structure and architecture.

The dissertation is composed of five parts, Local Case Studies, Academic Research, Structural Studies of Bamboo Pole, Structural Studies of Split Bamboo and Design Implication.

The Local Case Studies and Academic Research formed the base of the dissertation. Ideas were then distilled from the base and developed in the Structural Studies phases by trial and error. They were explored by small-scale models first, and then tested in large-scale constructions. The results would be analyzed and reviewed for improvement and generation of new ideas. This formed the circuit of the Structural Studies. Finally Steps for future development and possible applications were laid out in the Design Implication.

Yu Cheung

In this thesis research, Mr. Cheung Yu has found an extraordinary way of using bamboo, a traditional building material in Hong Kong to create different space. Split pieces of bamboo were woven spatially in the new structure with the aid of the elasticity of the material. The structure was formed by many micro cages. This spatial formation created an additional stiffness and solved the buckling problem of membrane structure. The stress has been distributed evenly in the spatially-woven bamboo pieces. It has also been found that the suitable stress pattern for the structure is determined multiply by form, construction sequence and weaving type.
Though the study has not involved the full size model testing, the big scale models and their testing have been convincing. This study explores more on geometrical and spatial aspects, but it relates to the tectonic tradition of the Chinese wooden architecture, such as merging the joint with the component and blurring the distinction between envelop and structure. This specific structure type may not only be applied to temporary bamboo shelter, but also affect the reinforcement design of the heavy structure. The same principle can also be used for the material with similar elasticity like laminated timber, pre-stressed metal and so on.
During the systematic study Mr. Cheung Yu made many small-scale study models and acquired the bamboo modeling knowledge from the local craftsmen. The achievements in different phases of the study shows his ability of integrating various resources and will also enlighten the research work along this or other related directions in the future.

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