Building Up Bamboo- MIT researchers study bamboo for engineered building material, similar to plywood.


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Categories: Building Methods

Bamboo construction has traditionally been rather straightforward: Entire stalks are used to create latticed edifices, or woven in strips to form wall-sized screens. The effect can be stunning, and also practical in parts of the world where bamboo thrives.

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But there are limitations to building with bamboo. The hardy grass is vulnerable to insects, and building with stalks — essentially hollow cylinders — limits the shape of individual building components, as well as the durability of the building itself.

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MIT scientists, along with architects and wood processors from England and Canada, are looking for ways to turn bamboo into a construction material more akin to wood composites, like plywood. The idea is that a stalk, or culm, can be sliced into smaller pieces, which can then be bonded together to form sturdy blocks — much like conventional wood composites. A structural product of this sort could be used to construct more resilient buildings — particularly in places like China, India, and Brazil, where bamboo is abundant.

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