Imagine a city rising from a lush bamboo forest, but this city uses no concrete and no steel; it doesn’t stick out of the forest, so much as blend in. This is the vision presented by penda, a Chinese and Austrian design firm, at Beijing Design Week this year. By 2023, penda claims, a city housing 20,000 people could be built entirely from their modular bamboo construction system, free to grow in every direction as the need arises.
The system uses no nails or screws – the bamboo is tied together with ropes – leaving the bamboo cane undamaged so it can be reused in other constructions. All of the materials in penda’s bamboo city are completely recyclable, allowing the city to rise and fall with minimal harm to the environment.
According to penda’s press release, “The project describes a true ecological approach of growth, which leaves no harm on the surrounding environment nor on the building material itself and is, therefore, a counter-movement to a conventional way of the present construction process.”
The bamboo city takes its construction materials from the bamboo forest where it lies. Since bamboo has a rapid growth cycle, the architects envision a never-ending supply of building materials, wherein two new bamboo trees are planted for every one that is removed. The system can grow to house 20 families within nine months, panda states, and as new families arrive, new modular buildings, including communal spaces, bridges and even floating structures, can be added in any direction. By 2023, they picture a city of 20,000 people nestled in 250 acres of bamboo forest.
As a proof of concept, penda created a bamboo pavilion at Beijing Design Week. During the event, visitors were invited to plant seeds into baskets which were then attached to the pavilion. The plants will grow along the bamboo structure, allowing nature to take over the design process where architecture leaves off.