Using bamboo in Vancouver construction is a good idea

You’re not being bamboo-zled, this material can work better than timber

(Kristen Frier)

(Kristen Frier)

With plans for a possible construction of Vancouver Forest, a 200-unit apartment building that is proposed by Urban Agency, there are some parts about the proposal that will catch the attention of some, including the bamboo that will be used to help create the building.

While it sounds like an awkward material to use for building construction, it has quite a few benefits. Even to the point it may be better to use than wood for construction purposes.

While using bamboo for building construction in North America sounds rare, it has been used to create other objects in our daily lives such as toothbrushes, kitchen utensils, and clothing. 

It’s even been used to build more complex objects such as hideouts, hostels, and resorts in other regions of the world. 

The description from Urban Agency says that bamboo has “similar tensile strength to steel, but its lightweight, tubular form renders bamboo highly efficient to transport,” which is why it’s being included in the project plan. Due to the high tensile strength it has, it’s also useful in areas that are more prone to earthquakes and hurricanes.

Bamboo has been known to have good heat and fire resistance, making it ideal in areas with higher temperatures. On the other side of the spectrum, bamboo can “withstand the heavy rains and about 15 to 20 feet of snow without a problem.” 

Compared to timber, bamboo is also easier to grow, as we try to be more eco-friendly in a world starting to feel the effects of climate change, making them a renewable resource to use in less wealthy parts of the world, thus being quite cost-effective. 

It is also environmentally friendly, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen like other plants. Alongside dealing with high temperatures and having plenty of sustainability, it is also helpful to use for construction during a time when climate change is having an impact on our environments.

However, if not sufficiently treated before being used, bamboo can be vulnerable to fungi and insect infestations. Also, if exposed to too much water, the bamboo will shrink a lot more than timber would once the water exits the material and is no longer absorbed. 

Keeping that in mind however, there are still more positives than negatives to using bamboo to help create more housing as it could be a start to seeing more places like the Vancouver Forest. 

Additionally, because they are known to be cheap to produce and sustain, this could potentially lead to cheaper housing as well as finding a place to rent or buy, as the housing market continues to be difficult and expensive to get into, especially for university students

Overall, with bamboo having a lot of tensile strength, being eco-friendly and cost-effective in its production among other points, it could be appearing more often at a building near you or in the next place you move into. Vancouver Forest could just be the start.