After years of building bamboo houses across rural China, Italian architect Mauricio Cardenas Laverde completed his largest bamboo project yet — the Bamboo Eye pavilion, a 1,600-square-meter structure constructed entirely from 5,000 locally sourced moso bamboo poles. Completed last April for the 2019 International Horticultural Exhibition in Beijing, the new pavilion is the largest of its kind ever built in northern China, according to the International Bamboo and Rattan Organization (INBAR). The massive pavilion was created to house programmatic activity while showcasing the architectural possibilities of bamboo in modern, low-carbon construction.

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construction workers building a curved bamboo pavilion

Created to follow the INBAR Garden’s theme of “Bamboo and Rattan for Green Growth,” the Bamboo Eye Pavilion shows off the tensile strength of bamboo, which is greater than that of mild steel. China, which is home to over 6 million hectares of bamboo, has used bamboo for construction for thousands of years. Modern construction in the country, however, mainly depends on steel and concrete. In an effort to promote the use of bamboo for sustainable development, INBAR teamed up with Laverde to show how bamboo could replace steel and wood and thus reduce pressures on forest resources.

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close-up of slightly curved bamboo rods in a pavilion
construction workers sawing bamboo

“We have to change the way we think about construction,” Laverde said. “If we used natural building materials in cities and changed our mindset, then it would be easy to rebuild every few decades without the huge cost of today.” The organic form of the Bamboo Eye pavilion is achieved with bamboo arches, which span 32 meters in length and 9 meters in height. The arches were bent and formed by fire baking, a process that turns the bamboo to a golden yellow and expands the material’s lifespan to 30 years.

worm's eye view of intricately patterned bamboo ceiling in a pavilion
aerial view of grass-covered bamboo pavilion

Lightweight yet strong, the truss arch structure is also sturdy enough to bear the weight of a green roof, which helps blend the building in with the nearby bamboo forest. The self-ventilating interior houses an auditorium and exhibition area. The Bamboo Pavilion was built for the International Horticultural Exhibition that was held from April to October 2019. 

+ Mauricio Cardenas Laverde

Images via INBAR