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Green Architecture
Bamboo: Up And Coming Building Material Of Costa Rica –
The Good, The Bad And The Beautiful
By Oliver Von der Weid
  The use of bamboo as the main construction material is not very common in Costa Rica yet. However, because of the new interest in sustainable construction, there are now several companies producing and selling bamboo in this country.

The building featured in the pictures is located in the theme park “Panaca” in the small town of Orotina. At Panaca you will see several large and graceful buildings made of bamboo.

Bamboo canes are beautiful when exposed but they can also be cut in such a way as to be re-combined into useful products such as flooring, matting and even Plywood.

The joinery for bamboo construction is a tricky aspect of the building process; since the strength of bamboo comes from its integral structure, it cannot be joined in the same way as most of the traditional techniques used for wood. On the other hand, this is exactly what creates the trademark of bamboo architecture where all the joints between the different pieces become a work of art.

As an economical material, bamboo’s rate of productivity and cycle of annual harvest outstrips any other naturally growing resources. If today you plant three or four superb structural bamboo plants, then in 4-5 years you will have mature clumps, and in 8 years you will have enough material to build a comfortable low-cost house.

The need of chemicals to preserve it from the elements:
• For Bamboo to become a raw material for construction it must first undergo a rigorous selection, immunization, preservation and drying process, which starts from the very moment the plant is being cut down.
•For the core of the bamboo to be consistently penetrated all the way through, you have to use pressure treatment and inject chemicals to replace the starch.
•In an effort to lessen the ecological impact of this process, the option exist to involve non-toxic boron which is effective at eliminating insects, yet is safe and non-toxic to humans and animals.


What bamboo can do for you:

• It is one of the most amazingly versatile and sustainable building materials available. It offers a lot of freedom to the architectural design of a building thanks to its natural length, lightness and high structural resistance.
• It is the fastest growing plant on earth. Some species can grow 60 centimeters (24 inches) per day and can grow in a wide range of climates.
• It can withstand forces of up to 52’000 pounds per square inch, making it the rival of steel.
• Its lightness makes it easy to transport and manipulate
• It is flexible and therefore buildings with a bamboo structure are very resistant to earthquake.

Around the world
Using designs that mimic the shape of birds’ flight, as rendered above, these foldable bamboo shelters can be used in a wide range of ways to provide eco-friendly shelter in response to catastrophe that displaces large numbers of people.

Ming Tang, the designer, arrived at the idea for the Folding Bamboo Houses after the devastating earthquake that struck China in May, killing tens of thousands of people.

The use of bamboo and other renewable materials makes sure that the structures are light in weight and can be easily assembled. Once the construction is complete, these shelters can be covered with recycled paper.



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Help Protect the Turtles by Swimming with Them

After giving it a fifth try, the female turtle tilted its large neck slightly to the right and closed its eyes. She was letting Mike know that he had been accepted. Mike held her carefully from her front flippers and placed his thumbs on the same spot on which the male turtle's flippers usually get hooked. Nonetheless, Mike does not plan on staying on top of her for five hours in order to reproduce, Mike just wants to "chat". More >



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