Bamboo Is The New Steel, Claims Architecture Expert Neelam Manjunath

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Can you imagine a building made majorly of bamboo? Well, Neelam Manjunath did and finally achieved that dream. This renowned architect, planner, scientist, activist, and theoretician firmly believes that bamboo is a perfect solution to several problems like housing, poverty, HDI, especially global warming due to development.

Manjunath is a true-blue revolutionary in the field of architecture. Her architecture is distinguished for the use of low energy materials and technologies with special emphasis on Bamboo.

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In fact, Manjunath claims that bamboo has replaced 70 percent of steel and wood in the constructions she has designed. She is also the founding member and managing trustee of the Centre for Green Building Materials and Technology (CGBMT), Bengaluru.

“Bamboo has a tensile strength that rivals steel and its weight-to-strength ratio surpasses that of graphite,” quoted Manjunath as saying.

The radical architect also claims that one column of bamboo produces enough oxygen for one’s lifetime. It also helps to save the planet from the effects of climate change because of its unrivaled capacity to capture carbon.

Manjunath has worked with bamboo for over 16 years. She has been using it to make walls, beams, columns, doors, windows, roofs, railings, fencing, staircases and boundary walls from the material. In some of her design, bamboo has also been used to make precast walls and roofs.

“The slab is cast with Bamboo Fibre Reinforced Concrete, which is lighter than conventional concrete.”

Manjunath’s fascination with bamboo started when during her project of making a VIP pantry for Raj Bhavan in Bangalore, in 2000, which the governor, Ms. Rama Devi, wanted to be made with bamboo.

“The versatility of bamboo and the freedom in designing due to its properties and workability fascinated me. One can construct almost any type of building with it, from a toilet to metro stations, stadiums and airports.”

“Also, the bamboo sector is not ready to take on financial and other risks to promote the material even though India is the second-largest producer of bamboo in the world.”

The greatest challenge, as per Manjunath, however, remains its perception as a temporary structure. Seeing that it is not part of the curriculum in architecture and engineering colleges, she is promoting the various applications of bamboo through vocational courses and by participating in exhibitions and lectures across the world.


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