Building With Bamboo
POOL|POOL 85

His engineering background helps Manu Narendran better understand how to work with bamboo as a construction material

Tell us about your preference for working with earth and bamboo.

MN: The materials are sustainable and environment friendly, but these are not the main reasons I like to work with them. I enjoy designing and building with bamboo and earth because the whole process is so hands-on and so intense, with so many great, and humbling, challenges. The love and hard work which goes in, and the satisfaction when you finish building, are not possible with any other material.

I received my Engineering degree from CEPT in Civil Construction Technology and was always inclined towards architecture, materials and detailing. Early on, I got interested in bamboo as a material and started working with it hands-on. This direct engagement with the material along with lot of reading resulted in my research thesis on bamboo as a construction material in India; it explored various techniques of bamboo construction across the country and their future applications, and suggested a structural design code for bamboo construction and a policy level change.

Bamboo, available abundantly in our country, should become a mainstream construction material along with earth construction. Our system currently has no specific codes to support the most time tested, and one of the oldest, building materials. There is a lack of knowledge-building through institutes, where these materials are not considered equal to other building materials. Students should be motivated to do higher research in bamboo and earth.

Through our approach and research we are trying to bring bamboo and earth to such a level where they are considered as mainstream building materials and the artisans and communities building with them are given supreme respect.

When did you discover your design leanings?

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