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Public constructions made with bamboo: lessons learnt from the 'Vergiate bamboo pavilion' in Northern Italy

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Bamboo-made constructions appear to have a good market potential in developed countries and could involve developing-country-based suppliers of bamboo materials. Bamboo is one of the rare commodities that can be harvested by local people; be handled with low-capital equipment; be fabricated in craft industries; and yet still can be sold in the so-called developed world. Therefore, trade in bamboo products can contribute to poverty alleviation in rural areas of developing countries. Bamboo furniture, parquet or handicrafts have already established a distinct and growing market niche in many countries. The paper considers the use of bamboo materials for building public or private constructions in developed countries such as: garden houses, pergolas, pavilions and carports.

Complex technical and legal requirements are involved when using bamboo poles in buildings. In spite of the versatility of bamboo and the progress made in technology and design for bamboo-made constructions, still a number of technical, legal, trade and marketing-related issues will require further development before a market for bamboo construction products in developed countries can really take-off.

Although the possibilities of using bamboo as a structural material are really amazing, bamboo is still largely ignored by building codes and legislation across many countries. Some constraints and implications for using bamboo as a building material are highlighted in this paper. They are partly based on the construction process of the first permanent bamboo building for public use in Vergiate (Varese, northern Italy), from direct information and contacts, as well as from other experiences.


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