Learning from ‚bamboo-shell‘ dwellings in southern Ethiopia
Many cultures have found within this material to be a potential of an affordable building system. Bamboo is a unique grass species offering sound, light, easily replaceable and replicable forms of shelter. Because construction tools and methods of construction using bamboo are often simple and straight forward, the making of shelter using bamboo are potentially accessible to unskilled majorities. Most domestic scale bamboo constructions could also be handled by the users themselves without machineries or technical sophistication.
Despite the said merits and longstanding tradition of construction dating back many hundreds of years, bamboo constructions are traditionally regarded as primitive.mThe material itself is also considered as poor man’s timber. In certain cases modern architectural experiments with bamboo are thought as romanticizing the material in the name of „sustainability”. For these unfortunate reasons, bamboo construction is rela¬tively undeveloped both in developed and in developing territories.
On the contrary, ‚textile architecture’ similar to further developments of bamboo weaving has been adapted by many contemporary ar¬chitects and is being used to develop unconventionally excellent surfaces and volumes of bigger scale. Moreover these days unexplored qualities of the material are being revealed by insightful scientific studies deeply rooted on vernacular constructions. Vernacular bamboo constructions are hinting possible unfolding of the mystery and qualities behind this „unique grass“.