How to Build a Dome Shell Structure Using Split Bamboo, Mesh, Sand and Cement
For DIY or anyone anywhere on a low budget. This method is the most simple, low tech way to build exceptionally strong dome shell structures. The method is high in labour component but the materials are relatively cheap.
What are the materials?
Bamboo, sand, cement and mesh. Can be steel mesh or fiberglass mesh or other kinds of fibre mesh. Chicken wire is probably the cheapest. Windows and doors can be recycled from the demo yard or you can install brand new timber or aluminum types.
Get Your Copy of the Bamboo Dome Building Guide Here
What is the method of construction?
In a nutshell. A concrete footing or combination footing and slab (raft slab) is first laid down. Starter bars are placed around the perimeter of the slab to connect the vertical bamboo uprights. Then lengths of split bamboo are attached to the starters embedded in the slab. These are then curved to conform to the intended shape of the structure and horizontal bamboo lengths are tied to hold the verticals in position as they are curved over to form the dome shape.
It is best to fix a block out frame for the widow and door openings. When the shape of the structure is fully complete with vertical and horizontal members, several layers of mesh are attached to the bamboo frame. A first layer of render material (sand cement) is troweled over the mesh to form an initial skin on which to build layers of render until the desired thickness is achieved
This method of utilizing split bamboo to create a rigid form of the structure, to act as the mold, provide support for layers of mesh and the gradual application and build up of concrete is very similar to ferro/cement boat construction.
Here We Take a Look at a Number of Dome Shell Structures Built with Bamboo
The structures below are Bamboo/Ferro Cement Shell Structures built using Bamboo Mesh and Render.
Many countries (particularly through the tropical belt) accept bamboo as a reinforcement for concrete when used in the correct way.
Below is the most spectacular and original dome resort at Mentigi Bay in Lombok designed by architect Wolfgang Widmoser
The Mentigi Bay Resort - Bamboo Dome Building Inspiration
Chris Brown; "I am a dome and shell structure builder, designer and composite material systems researcher and I have pursued cost effective and sustainable ways of building strong safe dome shelter and housing using renewable resources. The Mentigi Bay Resort is a stunning example of the application of very simple materials, methods and processes."
Building Shell Structures for housing and shelter - using Bamboo, Mesh, Sand and Cement
Traditional Uses - Bamboo as a Building Material
Bamboo is a form of grass and is one of the oldest building materials found in tropical to temperate climates.
It is very widely used through Asia, China, South America and other parts of the world.
There are many great examples of where Bamboo is used in post and beam construction with spectacular results.
Bamboo makes excellent flooring and other structural members when it is laminated.
It is also used to make furniture and of course is found in gardens for poles and stakes etc all over the world.
Bamboo as Reinforcement in Concrete
In Asia Bamboo is used as a concrete reinforcing. It has higher tensile strength than steel and when the right varieties are harvested at the right time and right treatment for bugs is included it can substitute for steel.
Significant research has gone into the use of Bamboo as a Reinforcement in Concrete including US Navy research and development and deployment of Bamboo Reinforced Concrete during the second world war.
In more recent times several other international research institutions have published studies on the behaviour of bamboo reinforced concrete.
Bamboo as a Building Material offers great Environmental Benefits
Bamboo is a fast growing renewable resource and together with its superior, mechanical properties makes it a highly sustainable building material.
China, the largest bamboo grower and bamboo market in the world is leading the way developing a wide range of products and uses including sophisticated building materials.
Bamboo has benefits of high carbon storage and makes some of the best charcoal and bio-char which in return has many uses in both farming, agriculture and building products.
Building Domes With Bamboo - The Most Cost Effective Solution
It is not immediately obvious how one would build a smooth, compound curved, dome shaped structure using bamboo.
My passion or obsession with domes has led me to experiment with and test many different material systems and solutions.
There are incredible cost benefits and a simplicity of using bamboo to construct "shell structure" buildings.
Using Bamboo makes High Performance Structures available to Everyone
I am inspired to develop building systems which will handle extreme weather and seismic conditions.
Survival and shelter are already issues many people are facing in the world right now.
This building system is cheap, easy and embodies great strength.
This system is an opportunity for many people to construct a permenant home and shelter
There are many books on how to build with bamboo but nothing that we know of about building domes using bamboo mesh and render - until now!
Whatever purpose you have for your construction, the resulting shell structure has the ability to keep you safe and secure under the worst conditions including cyclones and earthquakes.
Click here to Download: How to Build Bamboo Cement Shell Structures
Interesting Bamboo Research Publications
If you are technically minded or simply want to understand some of the potential benefits of uses of Bamboo then the following publications are enlightening.
Bamboo as a building material alternative for Western Europe? A study of the environmental performance, costs and bottlenecks of the use of bamboo (products) in Western Europe P. VAN DER LUGT 1 , A. VAN DEN DOBBELSTEEN1;¤ and R. ABRAHAMS2 1 Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Architecture, P. O. Box 5043, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands 2 NIBE Research, Naarden, The Netherlands
Published: 8 September 2014