You have probably noticed by now how much we love bamboo here at Inhabitat. We’re constantly amazed at the qualities bamboo has to offer as a rapidly renewable resource: it’s strong, pliable, and pretty good looking, too. But Kengo Kuma‘s Great (Bamboo) Wall house is the first project we’ve profiled for using bamboo as a symbolic element of design, not to mention its physical attributes.
Kengo Kuma’s Great Bamboo Wall was part of an initiative to develop a series of houses, all by Asian architects along the Great Wall of China. The significance of building alongside such a monumental structure was key to Kuma’s interpretation of the project. The solidity of China’s Great Wall was first and foremost a division, to insulate both their territory and culture from the outside. Kuma’s bamboo walls, however, while dividing space, were designed to contrast the monument in their fragility and transparency.
Kuma varied the spacing and thickness of the bamboo canes creating the walls of the house, each defining a different level of fluidity from one space to the next. Dappled light penetrates between the thin stalks, as though the house were literally built from the forests of Asia. Kuma is in a sense a traditionalist, aiming to restore the tradition of Japanese buildings. However his approach is a modern one, in which he focuses on “light and natural materials to get a new kind of transparency.”
One of Kuma’s more recent projects, the Lotus House, extends these ideas of transparency, blurring the delineation of the building’s enclosure. Built out of “holes,” a matrix of thin travertine plates creates a porous skin, allowing wind and light to penetrate. Kuma describes his architecture as a “frame of nature. With it we can experience nature more deeply and more intimately.”