Wind Breaker Fire Pit in Argentina was built on site and in 1 weeks time with friend and colleague Ben Uyeda (www.homemade-modern.com). We embraced bamboo's inherent tensile strength by lashing the 25' long poles together and stringing rebar "arches" through each to help form the fan-like passage. The woven bamboo rods virtually support themselves while creating a dramatic procession through the brush to a sheltered fire pit. All materials, including the bamboo were either gathered directly from the land or locally acquired.
These experiments in Argentina and Costa Rica explored the use of bamboo as both structural scaffolds and architectural space shapers on a small scale.
Costa Rican Eco Shelter
This small house, which serves as a caretaker’s home on a larger property at Cabo Matapalo, Costa Rica, is a hybrid form, both physically and functionally. The base of the house is constructed in the regional vernacular as a concrete and stucco form that encloses parking, kitchen, and bath functions. While functioning as a fully enclosed and protected zone, the grounded concrete base isolates and elevates the occupants of the upper living and sleeping quarters from the nearby rainforest floor.
The open second floor living area is sheltered by a soaring structure of bamboo construction. Springing from the ground level and mimicking the canopy of the nearby rainforest, the bamboo enclosure filters and protects the interior spaces from the sun and other natural elements. The light-weight bamboo building canopy, composed of 3” diameter bambusa stenostachya structural members, expresses the flexibility of the open living spaces that it serves to protect and allows the form to have various degrees of openness to the environment.
This structure blends high-tech and low-tech components by marrying stainless steel pivoting anchors to the structural bamboo poles. The enclosure on the upper level is constructed of local woods and includes operable louvered awnings that allow for great variability in the degree of openness. The occupant can be either fully protected from or fully availed to the environment by modulating the enclosure as desired.
The home’s structural integrity is derived from its close association with the functions each building element contains, creating a house whose forms clearly convey their functions. The solid base contains the support functions of the building while the bamboo canopy, which mimics the rainforest canopy around it, filters and protects the elevated spaces in a more ethereal living environment.
This eminently build-able form judiciously employs building components, linking aesthetics and building use with renewable resources. The house fulfills the client’s and architects’ desire to create a sustainably conceived house within the relatively intact and sensitive environment of the rainforest. In fact, this prototype’s strength lies in its expandability, both formally and functionally, allowing multiple variations of scale and program to successfully coexist on the client’s large multi-complex property. The organization and basic form can be laterally extruded, modifying the length and the degree of openness of the upper level to account for various orientations relative to sun, wind, rain, and view.