Contemporary Architecture

Modern bamboo architecture


It is a fact that literature about bamboo in modern architecture is hard to find. At this time bamboo is just used as a forming and constructive element.  Bamboo was introduced to Europe through some sporadic organizations and
trial projects. In regions where bamboo is domestic, it was not just integrated in culture, but even in architecture. The logical conclusion is that architects of these regions are more interested in presenting the qualities of this material to us.

Bamboo has the image of being the building material of the poorer class, for example in Colombia the upper class especially prefers concrete. In India the highest caste builds with stone, the middle castes use wood and only the lowest castes use bamboo. The material bamboo is not standardized so people in Europe are confronted with difficulties, if they want to build with bamboo.

Nevertheless some famous architects and engineers already made their experiments with this natural product. The qualities of bamboo are also appreciated by Renzo Piano. He was interested in combining light metal elements [tubes /slabs] with bamboo. In this way there arise intersections between bamboo- and modern light metal- constructions, Arata Isozaki, Buckminster Fuller und Frei Otto.

Modern bamboo- architects:

Simón Vélez:

Vélez is a graduate architect, from the University of Colombia in Bogotá. He was born in Manizale/ Colombia in 1949 and has completed over 100 projects using concrete, bamboo (Guada Angustafolia), mangrove wood, woven palm mat lathing (or expanded metal lath) and clay roof tile. Simón Vélez works from Bogotá, Colombia, South America. As much of his work has been in very rural areas for ranchers, he has been allowed to experiment with the locally available materials due to a lack of a regulating authority and the relative difficulty of importing the standard building materials of brick and mortar.Vélez has developed a very interesting model for building experimental structures. He builds only with his own well-trained crew of workers, so he is able to constantly draw upon past successes and failures in detailing. He intentionally keeps drawings simple, usually freehand on single sheets of 8×11 graph paper. Cad- drawings only are made for the purchaser or for building improvements. The clearest concept to be seen in his drawings is the necessity for balance. These cantilevers are very large, but maintain an obvious center of gravity over the support. The main mistake some architects do is to use bamboo like wood. His efforts are trials, because he always tries to plan with respecting bamboo and its peculiarities. Very often bamboo only was tested on compression, but the real quality exists in its capability to compense shear tension. Vélez used this in his framework constructions, which were able to cantilever more than 9 meters and to strain about 27 meters. 1998 Simón Vélez took part in a summer-workshop in Boisbuchet/France, which was arranged by the Vitra Design Museum and the Center Georges Pompidou. At this opportunity he realized his first project in Europe – a garden pavilion. One year later he set up a prototype of a ‘low-cost-house’, which could be built by the inhabitants. The building is extremely resistant to earthquakes and is based on bamboo and loam. It has 60 square meters divided on two floors and the value in Columbia is about 5000$. Most of his buildings served to create a good image of bamboo even in higher social class of Columbia. This may be the way to integrate and establish bamboo next to concrete, steel, wood and stone as a full building material.

Shoei Yoh

Shoei Yoh was born in 1940 in Kumamoto-City/Japan.1970 he founded his office ‘ShoeiYohArchitects’ .In his long career he won many architecture prizes and at this time he teaches at the ‘Graduate School of Keio University’. In two projects he used bamboo as main static structure. He also designed a geodetic cupola [1989]. He also attended with ‘grating- shell construction’ .In Chikuho-Fukuoka he was inspired by the local artisans.

Rocco Yim:

The “Festival of Vision” in summer 2000 connects the cities Berlin and Hong Kong, while both are in a time of change and reorientation. The ‘House of the Cultures of the World’ demonstrates in this context the important attitude to contemporary art made in Hong Kong. In this context the pavilion of the architect Rocco Yim from Hong Kong was distinguished in front of the ‘House of the Cultures of the World’ in a lake. Bamboo on the one hand has an essential meaning for his static structure for high buildings, on the other hand for temporary stages or Chinese

Michael McDonough:

Michael McDonough is an architect and furniture designer, who discovered bamboo some years ago. Since that time he attended with the possibilities of this material. After some furniture designs he wanted to realize his project ‘Mendocino high-tech Bamboo Bridge’ in 2000 . This should be a demonstration of the constructive qualities of bamboo. This framework construction is able to strain over 33 meters and is also able to compensate more than 60 times of its own weight. The static structure is based on the principle of ‘tensegrity’, which was coined by Buckminster Fuller and Robert Le Ricolais. “The word ‘tensegrity’ is an invention: a contraction of ‘tensional integrity.’ Tensegrity describes a structural-relationship principle in which structural shape is guaranteed by the finitely closed, comprehensively continuous, tensional behaviors of the system and not by the discontinuous and exclusively local compressional member behaviors. Tensegrity provides the ability to yield increasingly without ultimately breaking or coming asunder.” (“Synergetics”, by R. Buckminster Fuller ).

Darrel DeBoer:

The architect Darrel DeBoer lives in Alameda/ California. He was inspired by the buildings of Simon Velez. During the time he worked at different books and he arranged the moving exhibition with the topic ‘resource-efficient building components’ . Furthermore he is responsible for the straw-baleproject. Timothy Ivory Timothy Ivory is the Director of Design for and trained originally as a theatrical designer at the University of Michigan and New York University, receiving his MA in Design from University of Michigan. He also studied Pantomime with Marcel Marceau’s mentor , Etienne Decroux and at the L’Ecole de Cirque Nationale de Paris. He is now designing and building original pieces by commission and developing a line of Bamboo furniture. His past work has included creating theatrical environments mixing six foot masks on bamboo poles with fabric as wings, staging performance pieces mixing circus, theatre and bamboo sculpture and creating temporary or transitional structures to educate as to the benefits of building with bamboo as a green/sustainable material. In 1995 he created a Bamboo Pool Bar and also a Massage Spa Shade Structure using Tonkin Cane Bamboo at the Delano Hotel. He also designed and built a pool house using Guaduas Angustifolia from Colombia.


Oscar Hidalgo:

Oscar Hidalgo, also a Colombian architect, was born in a bamboo house in Chinchina . He is focused on research and science, but he also realized some bamboo projects. He traveled to Asia, Costa Rica and Brazil for his profession.
Jules Janssenn Dr. Jules J.A. Janssen is a well-known expert in the field of bamboo as a building and engineering material. He has been keynote speaker on several congresses, and has acted as a member of steering committees, chairman in several sessions, and referee of papers submitted for congresses. Further he has acted as member of committees for Ph.D. studies at several Universities and has been the supervisor of the National Bamboo Project in Costa Rica from 1987 till 1995.


BAMBUCO is the group of artists and climbers brought together by Artistic Director Simon Barley to create unique aerial performance construction events. Simon has been designing performance space and building site specific installations for some years, with an emphasis on exploration of aerial space. Study of bamboo construction followed from an interest in lightweight structures. After research in SE Asia and a period as a trainee scaffolder at Kowloon Bay CITA, Hong Kong, he collaborated with the contemporary dance company Danceworks to produce the giant bamboo installation BRIDGE for
Melbourne International Festival 1995. The crowds gathering to watch the builders at work confirmed the idea of a
spectacular construction process viewed as a performance event. BAMBUCO has a core artistic and management group based in Melbourne, Australia. Construction crews are drawn from many countries. Construction involves techniques adapted from modern rock climbing – although the work appears dangerous, attention to safety at height is given the highest priority. Once on site they add to this a sense of humor in several languages and a willingness to engage with the audience. “The intention is always upward, the imagery muscular, architectural.”

Land Art:

Hiroshi Teshigahara:

The Japanese artist Teshigahara uses bamboo- ledges to make landscapesculptures landscape- installations from
bent bamboo- blades

Antoon Versteegde:

This sculpture was made in cooperation of the Environmental Bamboo Foundation, the trust De Lutteltuin and the artist Anton Versteegde. It was installed within a touring exhibition at different sites.

“…..Meanwhile classical standards have become obstacles for lively arts. The artist only can recover his liberty by temporary installations, by the design of vulnerable objects, that pass like organic time bombs or are destroyed by
vandalism. A dynamic work of art only becomes alive outside the museum…” (Antoon Versteegde)

Stephen Glassman:

Stephen Glasssman is an American artist who develops among others things free form strudtural bamboo siteworks.
This bridge was calculated ba Oscar Hidalgo. It was installed in Ubud/ Bali in 1995.

Ecological orientated architecture:

This project by the engineers and designers Darren Port and Mark Roberts unites bamboo with straw- bale architecture. This building in Puerto Rico is called “hooch” by the owner. The bamboo- construction is put up on an existing concrete base with cesstank and is used like a bedroom. sun- collectors on the roof produce current for a ventilator and a small lamp.

Architects/ engineers/ specialists:

Architects and designers

  •  Prof. Cassandra Adams; Prof. at UC Berkeley specialized in construction, mainly in environment and Japanese construction
  • Jorge Arcila, Marizales – South America – “stacked house”
  • Darrel DeBoer, California
  • Doug La Barre; USA, manufacturing facility for creating laminated lumber from imported Guada
  • Bobby Manoso, Philippines
  • Michael McDonough
  • Carlos Vegara; Cali – South America (deceased ) – whole houses from bamboo, multi column system, loads carried by septum of the bamboo
  • Simón Vélez, South America
  • Marcelo Villegas, South America
  • Rocco Yim, Asia
  • Shoei Yoh, Asia


  • Karl Bareis
  • Wolfgang Eberts
  • Prof. Jules A. Janssen
  • Oscar Hidalgo


  • Anton Versteegde
  • Teshigahara


  • Vitra Design Museum, Grow your own house .


  • on 08.02.2000, 22:00
  • straw bale- architecture
  • Mendocino Bridge by McDonough
  • Shoei Yoh – ‘grating shell construction’ in photos
  • construction principles of the whire by Anton Versteegde
Contemporary Architecture

Walter Adolph Gropius – The Gropius house and The Bauhaus


  • Born in Berlin on May 18, 1883 as the third son of building advisor to the government with the same name, and Manon Auguste Pauline.
  • Studied in the Colleges of Technology at Berlin and Munich till 1907.
  • Later, worked under the German architect Peter Behrens from 1907 – 10.
  • Formed a partnership with Adolf Meyer in 1910.
  • Established the world-famous Bauhaus School of Architecture in 1919 in Weimar, Germany.
  • Served as the director of the Bauhaus from 1919 – 28.
  • He later moved to America and founded The Architects’ Collaborative (TAC) in 1945 in Cambridge.

The Bauhaus School:

  • Literally means “house for building”.
  • Founded at Weimar by Walter Gropius in 1919.
  • Moved to Dessau in 1924 due to economic considerations.
  • Forced to move to Berlin in September 1932 by the Nazis.
  • During its brief span of existence (1919-1933), the Bauhaus School of Design had 3 directors, Gropius (1919-1928), Hannes Meyer (1928-1930) and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1930-33).
  • During the directorship of Walter Gropius, the work was mainly in his office, while the building department, headed by Hannes Meyer, enabled an independent training in architecture based on the requirements of the users.
  • The buildings of Gropius and Meyer were, in many ways, ‘Bauhaus buildings’. He regularly let students work on the commissions in his office and always tried to sell products and services from the Bauhaus workshops to his clients.

The Gropius House, Lincoln, Massachusetts, 1938:


The Master Bedroom Suite:

  • A glass wall separates dressing room from sleeping area creating the illusion of a larger space. The wall separates two heating zones allowing one to sleep in a cold environment but dress in a warmer one.

The Guest Bedroom

  • It was used it as a sitting room when there were no guests, and in the winter, Ise (his wife) took advantage of the southern exposure and used it as a greenhouse.

Ati’s Bedroom

  • It includes a walnut and birch desk designed by Walter Gropius and made in the Bauhaus carpentry workshop in 1922. Paired with the desk is a tubular steel and cane chair designed by Breuer during the years of the Dessau Bauhaus in 1928.

Ground Floor Hallway

  • The curved staircase faces away from the entry, signifying the upstairs as private space.
  • Gropius used glass blocks and a floor to ceiling window to transmit natural light to this area.

The Dining Room:

  • The dining table and chairs were also made in the Bauhaus workshops under the direction of Marcel Breuer. The chrome and canvas chairs are paired with a Formica dining table designed in 1925.

The Living Room

  • Gropius maximized space along the north wall with bookshelves and storage cabinets. Large windows frame the landscape and expand the interior spaces.

The Study

  • Gropius designed the study to accommodate the double desk that fits perfectly under the north facing window.
  • The study acts as a passageway into the living room.

Impact of Gropius House:

  • Modest in scale, revolutionary in impact.
  • Combined the traditional elements of New England architecture — wood, brick, and fieldstone — with innovative materials rarely used in domestic settings at that time — glass block, acoustical plaster, and chrome banisters, along with the latest technology in fixtures.
  • The family home became a showcase for Bauhaus design and philosophy.
  • Ise Gropius bequeathed the house to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA) in 1984 to continue the tradition of teaching the principles of the Bauhaus Movement.

The Bauhaus, Dessau, Germany, 1925-26.:


  • The primary structural material is steel reinforced concrete.
  • Window facades are designed as hanging (non-structural) walls.
  • The Wassily Chair designed by Marcel Breuer

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Contemporary Architecture



Boullee was born in 1728 in Paris, France. He spent his entire life in Paris working first as a painter and later as an architectural theorist. He buildings demarcated his philosophy of the combining elements like Lights, the love of the geometry (simple geometrical forms) and a gigantic scale (accumulation of masses). He developed a clean geometrical style, inspired by the traditional forms and characterized by the removal of any surplus ornamentation, the enlarging of the geometrical forms on a gigantic scale and the repetition in very great number of elements such as the columns. The required objective was to produce an impression of magnificence and seriousness suitable to inspire the respect with the citizens, while suggesting the dignity of the universe and the subjacent rational intention. He promoted the concept of an architecture expressing its function. Reacting against the prevalent rococo style, characterized by elaborate ornamentation, he employed many Greek and Roman architectural elements that recalled the classical taste of the 1600s. He believed that beauty was rooted in symmetry, regularity, and variety—qualities that he observed in nature. He contrasted the positive emotional effects of regular shapes, such as spheres, with those of irregular forms.


He was a born in 1905 and became a German architect and Nazi minister of armaments and war production. His earlier work was less influenced by Hitler and Troost, especially the work done for the Ministry of Propaganda, can be viewed as displaying Speer’s considerable skill at balancing Neo-Classical elements in a manner so delineate as to be almost Modern. The rallies, so successful in affecting the senses, has more to do with the aesthetics of Modernism than Classicism, more precisely the theatrical productions which Speer was so influenced by in the twenties. The designs for the Haupttribune and the Nazi Eagle are very flat, almost planar, and appear to be more like backdrop than a Classical Roman architecture. He combined Classicism with definitely Modern rectilinear forms. Both these projects, as well as the Reichsparteitag, call into question the fine line between the severe geometry of Classicism as manifested in the work of Ledoux and Boullee, and the Classical proportions of Modernism in the later work of Mies van der Rohe.


A strong impression of boullee can be seen in albert speer,s works. Albert speer converted his thoughts and inspiration into reality by the receiving patronization from adolf Hitler whereas Boullee could just  imagine and make visionary drawings. In his designs Boullee restricted himself to the use of simple, geometrical shapes, such as pyramids, sphere and cylinders. His work was characterized by the removal of all unnecessary ornamentation. He made pure geometric forms. In his design Albert speer used other decorative features like eagles in his buildings in repeating way. Albert invented a new architectural Order. He is a war time architect so his works had a resourceful plan and scale and on the other hand had the architecture reflecting the stability and the power of the Nazis.


Contemporary Architecture

FRITZ HOGER – Chilehaus


  • Johann Friedrich (Fritz) Höger was a German architect from Bekenreihe
  • He was an Expressionist Architect
  • His best-known work is the Brick Expressionist Chilehaus in Hamburg
  • 1877 – Born in Bekenreihe
  • 1897-99 – Studies at School Of Building    Crafts in Hamburg
  • 1907 – Sets up his own practice
  • 1921-24 – Chilehaus , Hamburg
  • 1933 – His hopes of being master-builder to Hitler disappointed
  • 1934-36 – Professor of Architecture at Nordic University Of Art
  • 1949 – Dies in Bad Segeberg•

Brick Expressionism:

  • Expressionism – distortion  or fragmentation of form to communicate an overstressed emotion
  • Focus on creativity and consideration of architecture as a work of art
  • Forms were emotional rather than physical
  • Brick Expressionism (Backsteinexpressionismus) is a variant of Expressionist architecture which uses bricks, tiles or clinker bricks
  • Mostly in 1920s in Germany
  • Characterised by rough surface with colours varying from brown via red to purple
  • While Bauhaus Architects argued for the removal of all decoration, Expressionists  developed ornamentation using rough, angular or pointy elements
  • Façade designs were enhanced by use of architectural sculptures


  • 10 story office building
  • Site of approximately 6,000m² spanning the Fischertwiete street
  • It was commissioned by the shipping magnate Henry B. Sloman, who made his fortune trading saltpeter from Chile, hence the name Chile House
  • It resembles a passenger ship
  • The building is famed for its top, which is reminiscent of a ship’s prow, and the facades, which meet at a very sharp angle at the corner of the Pumpen and Niedernstrasse
  • 3 tiered balconies are like a ship’s decks
  • The bricks of Chile House have a shimmering effect and reflect the change of light in the surrounding with a varying luster
  • Chile House looks especially beautiful at night, when it seems to capture all the light present and throws it back in an amplified form which veins out along its immensity.
  • The building has a reinforced concrete structure
  • The building is constructed on very difficult terrain, so to gain stability it was necessary to build on 16-meter-deep reinforced-concrete pilings
  • use of 4.8 million dark Oldenburg bricks
  • has over 2,800 windows which overlook some of the most scenic places in the city
  • The sculptural elements in the staircases and on the facade were provided by the sculptor Richard Kuöhl
  • the location’s close vicinity to the Elbe river necessitated a specially sealed cellar, and heating equipment was constructed in a caisson that can float within the building, so the equipment can’t be damaged in the event of flooding.
  • Because of the accentuated vertical elements and the recessed upper stories, as well as the curved facade on the Pumpen street, the building has, despite its enormous size, a touch of lightness
  • the ground-floor base with its arches, and the cantilevered platforms with the four stepped-back upper storeys, are tightly structured by closely positioned clinker piers
  • Some consider Chilehaus as having Art Deco  aesthetics due to its resemblance to a ship indicated by:
  1. Pointed Bow
  2. Chilean State Emblem(Cormorant) as figurehead
  3. 3 stepped back stories as roof
  4. Cantilevered balconies like decks
  5. triangular pilasters, when viewed obliquely, cause the window to vanish as in the flank of a ship’s hull
  6. S-shape curving south façade
  • Gothic-like pointed arch decoration to the projecting structures and arcades
  • other ornamental details developed from the brickwork
  • In 1983 Chile House in Hamburg was recognized as an architectural monument and was included in the UNESCO list of World heritage Sites
  • Chilehaus escaped major destruction during World War II
  • buildings surrounding Chilehaus had suffered direct hits from enemy bombs

Other Works

  • Garbáty cigarette factory
  • Kirche am Hohenzollernplatz
  • Rathaus
  • Anzeigerhochhaus – one of the first skyscrapers in Germany
  • Albert Speer’s Berlin
  • Fritz Hoger sympathized with the Nazi movement and wanted to be the state architect
  • Expressionism tended to be more gothic than classical
  • Albert Speer’s classicism using white marble was preferred over Hoger’s Brick Expressionism
  • Expressionism was outlawed as Degenerate Art
  • While most of Speer’s buildings were destroyed by bombings, Hoger’s buildings survived the war

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Contemporary Architecture



  • Born in post war Poland in 1946, Mr. Libeskind became an American citizen in 1965
  • He studied music in Israel and in New York, becoming a virtuoso performer.
  • He left music to study architecture, receiving his professional architectural degree in 1970 from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City.
  • Daniel Libeskind established his architectural office in Berlin, Germany in 1989. Upon winning the World Trade Center design competition, in February 2003, Studio Daniel Libeskind moved its headquarters to New York City. The office is now headquartered two blocks south of the original World Trade Center Site.

Major Projects:

  • Glass Courtyard, Berlin
  • West side Shopping Center, Switzerland
  • Tangent, South Korea
  • Media Center, HongKong


  • Daniel Libeskind was born in 1946 – just after the Second World War, – in Lodz, Poland.
  • His parents were among the few Polish Jews who survived the Holocaust, while most of his extended family had been murdered.
  • When Daniel was eleven, the Libeskinds immigrated to Israel; at thirteen, he came to New York.

  • He was emotionally very attached towards tragedies of such magnitude and probably this is the reason that he is able to convey it through his architecture better than others.
  • The iconic examples are
  • a)Jews museum, Berlin, Germany, depicting the pains of the Jews during the 2nd world war
  • b)  WTC site, New York, satisfying the sentiments of thousands of people whose relatives suffered    from 9/11.
  • He also belongs to a group of modern architects known as deconstructivists, a group that also includes such architects as Zaha Hadid and Frank O’Gehry

“I believe that design and architecture are the foremost communicators of all—they tell a story.  Without them, there would be no history, no reference about where we are, where we’ve been and where we are going; not only as individuals but as a society” .

-Daniel Libeskind

About the Project:

  • Competition: 1989
  • Completion: 1999
  • Opening: 2001
  • Client: Stiftung  Juedisches  Museum Berlin

Technical Details:

  • Building Area: 15,500 sq.m. (=166,840 sq.ft.)
  • Structure: Reinforced concrete with zinc facade

Libeskind Zigzag in Berlin

The new Jewish Museum in Berlin, a striking deconstructivist structure is clad chiefly with titanium-covered zinc — a durable, stable, and malleable metal that reflects the light. The museum rises from a base whose line is frequently broken and unwinds in zigzag fashion.


  • STAR  represents Jewish history and culture throughout the history of Berlin and its absence in the present-day city.
  • ZIG-ZAG LINE represents the atrocities done on Jewish
  • Numerous numbers of trajectories between two points (AB), representing the individual biographical trajectories of citizens of Berlin, which Libeskind refers to as Histories.

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