Structures built from bamboo aren’t new in this day and age. Most tropical countries still make use of bamboo huts and rafts for their everyday lives and it is as effective then as it is to them now. In Thailand, however, a creative team of professionals was able to elevate the use of bamboo as not only the main structural member but also as the material for everything else in the structure and this is no other than the Bamboo Sports Gymnasium in Panyaden International School.
This gymnasium was completed in the year 2017 and the team behind the design was Chiangmai Life Construction. This team was led by Ar. Markus Roselieb and Ar. Tosapon Sittiwong alongside Lead Engineers Phuong Nguyen and Esteban Morales Montoya. The entire gymnasium has an area of 782 square meters and it can hold about 300 people in the gym at a time. Aside from all the bamboo used as materials for the different parts of the gym, suppliers like Borax, PSC Commercial, and Yang Ma Sports Tech also made big contributions to increase the quality of the gymnasium and to ensure the modern aspects of the gym so that it would be suitable for the sports that the school would be hosting here.
Chiangmai Life Construction was able to combine modern organic design and 21st-century engineering to make this project a success. The way they made use of the bamboo was very similar to how the Arc in Bali, Indonesia was made. Despite the similarity in shape and engineering methods used, the design differs tremendously because, unlike the Arc which was inspired by the anatomy of mammals, the Bamboo Sports Hall was inspired by the lotus flower.
The architects who conceptualized the design made use of the shape of the lotus flower to create the ventilation system of the building and its roof which ensures that everything and everyone in the gymnasium is protected from unnecessary sunlight. The curvature and precise openings in the roof structure allow the gym to be cool all year round. In addition to that, it also showcases the craftsmanship of the team with how they were able to create something so aesthetically pleasing to the eyes while still maintaining full functionality for the events that the school intends to be held there. This building was also built with absolutely no carbon footprint. The bamboo they used to construct the whole thing absorbed the carbon created from the deliveries and manufacturing during the construction phase and this is an incredible feat made even more incredible by the fact that this structure is estimated to last at least 50 years as per the structural engineers that analyzed the building.
As amazing as what the building was able to attain structurally and architecturally, its use was elevated even more by how the school made use of it as more than a gymnasium. They did so by making use of the building’s design to further visualize the lessons they teach their students about underlying mechanisms of the human mind and other things of that nature. Considering all the things that this building was been able to attain and give back to the school and its students, it is clear that there should be more buildings like this around the globe. The best way to preserve nature while we continue to advance in technology is to find better ways to integrate the two and buildings like the Bamboo Sports Hall do just that. There aren’t a lot of them yet but as long as there are small steps towards a world where nature and development can live and even better each other in unison, we can breathe a bit better knowing that there are people doing the right things and spearheading design and progress in the best way possible.
Photos courtesy of Alberto Cosi, Markus Roselieb