Bamboo. Crédito: Toni Cuenca/Unsplash

Thai Sports Hall Structure Entirely Made of Bamboo

The project, called Bamboo Sports Hall, was based on the lotus flower and uses Buddhist teachings to infuse human values while using British academic curriculum

Panyaden International School is based in the city of Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand. The school’s philosophy lies on human values, such as the love of nature, while borrowing disciplines and methods from British formal education, resulting in an international and competitive curriculum.

The entire school was built using only natural materials, as an effort to bring children closer to nature and show them that these materials often have greater quality and efficiency than commonly used materials, since they keep the environment fresh and pleasant. Additionally, by applying these techniques, the buildings’ carbon footprint could be reduced by 90%, compared to buildings standard techniques.

Sports Hall Bamboo

Since the weather in the region is mostly hot and moist, it needed a covered sports arena. As a result, architecture firm Chiangmai Life Architect designed Bamboo Sports Hall combining natural material, modern organic design and 21st century engineering.

The hall is Panyaden International School’s greatest architectonic feature, occupying a 782 sq. m area which can hold 300 students. The edifice mingles perfectly with Panyaden school’s old clay and bamboo-made buildings, as well as with the region’s natural mountainous landscape.

“Bamboo is an excellent choice for this type of building, as its tensile strength is higher than steel’s,” points out Brianna Bussinger, architect and co-founder of Encaixe Soluções Alternativas (Fitting Alternative Solutions). Brianna has worked across 5 countries in Asia, Africa and Oceania, creating sustainable development-focused projects.

To her, the truss-pillar pattern is the heart of the project and, thanks to this design, they merge into one object. “The trusses’ diagonals and risers are made of large-diameter bamboos, with natural structural properties, while beams are made out of bamboo entanglement with much smaller diameter, and they’re tied with rope, making pillars robust and extremely tough.”

The prefabricated bamboo trusses have been designed recently, with their length exceeding 17 meters without steel reinforcements or connections. The trusses were pre-assembled on-site and lifted in the right position with the help of a crane. The construction can withstand high-speed winds and earthquakes.

Zero carbon footprint

Panyaden Sports Hall’s carbon footprint is zero. Carbon sequestration by far outweighed carbon release during bamboo handling, transport and building. The material was hand-picked, based on age, and lately borax-treated. No chemical substance took part of treatment process. The life span of the bamboo hall is expected to be at least 50 years.

“We can notice freshness and yellowish aspect; this combination results in an extremely pleasant environment. Because this material is lighter and more flexible than conventional ones, it allows experimenting with openings like ‘side skylights’ that look like an eye. In this particular case, the roof is comprised of 3 tiers, ensuring natural light and air circulation indoors,” adds Brianna.

The Sports Hall hosts futsal, basketball, volleyball and badminton courts, as well as a self-lifting stage. The wall of the storage room for sports and drama production equipment serves as the stage backdrop. Balconies along the two long sides of the building provide optimal viewpoints for parents and visitors watching matches or performances. The design and material allow for a pleasant and fresh climate all year long, through natural air circulation and thermal insulation.

So, why not more popular?

But, if it is so convenient, why are bamboo buildings not more popular in Brazil and in the world? For Brianna, it’s due to a “lack of skilled personnel and lack of supply of properly treated raw material”. “In Asia, architects and designers lead projects and building; besides, construction personnel are well acquainted with the material they work with. When western architecture science meets the expertise and cultural knowledge of a craftsman, who has fully developed construction techniques with such material, the outcome is flawless, stunning and functional.”