Monday, June 23, 2008

Bamboo Convention Center Makes its Debut

In the mountains to the east of Bogotá, there is a small picturesque village named the La Calera and the new home of Bahia a 30,000 sq ft convention center. The most recent structure created by Architects Daniel Cheyne and Jorge B Londoño and the Guadua Tech ( Richard and Camillo) Team , Bahia is privy to a spectacular view of Colombia's' Capitol City. The structure that once occupied the site and housed a popular night spot, ended its existence in an electrical fire over 10 years ago. The owner enlisted the Guadua Tech team to take the remnant's of the old structure and revamp it with a modern convention center utilizing our favorite building material Guadua Bamboo Poles and the patented joinery system developed by the Colombian Architectural team in 1998. Due to the nature of the Guadua Tech system a structure can be pre-manufactured and built on site with a smaller crew than most construction techniques much to the amazement of large construction crews.The design of Bahia incorporates a multi leveled structure encased in glass, emphasizing the bamboo poles handsomely appointed with a new generation of articulations and custom hard ware. The finishing touches include adobe columns to support the bamboo beams decorated with mosaic tiles, interior gardens and by far the best view of the of Bogotá.The Bahia site has its own chapel built out of adobe and brick designed by Daniel Cheyne, also newly constructed. In early 2008 Bogotá was inundated by the worst hail storm to date and responsible for the destruction of several edifices lacking the structural design to withstand the weight of several feet of frozen water. In this case and that of an earth quake that rocked the city a couple of weeks ago, Bahia stands unaffected, a tribute to the design, engineering staff and property owners who undertook this project using Guaudua Angustifolia bamboo poles.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Next Generation Of Bamboo Connections

The idea of using bamboo as a construction material is just being explored by architects and engineers in the U.S. and Europe. For those who have known of the strength of Bamboo poles the challenge has been to separate bamboo from the a theme faux finish typical of a Gilligans' Island set, to a functional load bearing material. The patented Guadua tech system has the advantage of utilizing the extremities of the bamboo poles catering to the minimalism ideal of modern architecture . Our latest project the Bamboo Pagoda for Tropical bamboo rendering seen to the left allowed the Guadua Tech team to incorporate a new generation of cast and hardened steel articulations. Up to this point projects for incorporated a trailer ball and socket to accomplish angled stances of the bamboo structures. Architects JB Londoño and Daniel Cheyne redesigned this connection for a large project in La Calera Bogotá named Bahia , a 20000 + sq ft convention center over looking the Colombian Capitol. Another distinct advantage of the Guadua Tech system is the ability to design a structure that can be prefabricated and this week the Tropical Bamboo Pagoda arrived by plane, much to the curiosity of all of the employees of the cargo airlines. The pre-assembled structure arrived along with the new generation of articulations on a double sized pallet and three of Marcelo Villegas 4 x 8 Ply wood sheets ( info to be presented later). The new articulations will not be incorporated in every new project as they are cost prohibitive being cast in small quantities , however the Tropical Bamboo Pagoda Project presents itself as the perfect opportunity to incorporate Guadua bamboo poles and high grade steel articulations.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bamboo Bridge Flys Away

The first flying bamboo bridge makes its appearance at the F.A.U. campus yesterday. In 2006 Simon Velez and Marcelo Villegas were the Guests of Florida Atlantic University at the suggestion of Hitesh Mehta, who just completed an eco Hotel in China with Simon Velez. The project which was completed by the Students a very modern bamboo bridge using Marcelo Villegas' washer system and supplied the bamboo poles and the American Bamboo Society made a generous contribution to the course. The students and staff were eclipsed by the pace at which Simon and Marcelo worked. After the course the bridge was structurally complete but was not considered safe by the administration, and was headed for demolition . Enter Daniel Cheyne our partner and C.E.O. of Guadua Tech S.A. who had proposed several bridge designs for Tropical Bamboo, made the leap that if the school wanted to dismantle the bridge why not just pick it up and move it to Tropical Bamboo. This concept didn't really seem feasible to most, pick up a 30 ft bamboo bridge estimated weight at several tons as most of the nodal connections were filled with mortar as per the masters in bamboo construction plans, and place it on a truck and take it to its new home. This raised several concerns for the school, Safety permits, would it hold I mean after all its Bamboo. We all know the importance of Guadua Angustifolia and its strength and Marcelos system has been proven, but this structure was built by students over 2 years ago and the bamboo poles have been exposed to the sun. Well after some slight negotiations we solved the problem by just doing it, Daniel Cheyne was in awe that we didn't close the road no police no permits, "very Colombian" . Robert Sapporito ( Tropical bamboo) hired a crane and flat bed truck the structure was strapped cut away from the footers and lifted into the air. The bridge was weighed at 6500 lbs much less than anticipated by Aron Temkin the current dean of the school of architecture and Luke a professor at the school of design. This could have been a bad scene but the structure flew with out any sag or motion a tribute to the design, the material the students and faculty. To quote my Colombian architect friend "Unbelievable"