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  • Yogesh M Singh

How IBUKU made an organic gymnasium with computational bamboo engineering

Read on to learn about the latest structure added to the renowned Green School in Bali

Natural building materials have a lasting positive influence on the human psyche. The use of such materials helps provide healthier living conditions and a lower carbon footprint. While these materials elevate sustainable properties, they are still considered ' temporary ' due to a lack of strength and durability.

The structures made out of these materials are often inconsistent and require additional treatment. IBUKU's unconventional works in bamboo construction have dissolved all negative speculations about bamboo as a contemporary building material. The Green Village in Bali, designed by the IBUKU group, is often known as one of the most sustainable communities in housing.

The Context

The Arc is the latest addition to the celebrated Green School campus by IBUKU. The idea behind the whole campus is to provide an empathetic educational environment in a sustainable setting. The architectural language aims to counter the predefined standards set by modernism that often inhibit livability and prioritize function over spatial experiences.

The buildings are farthest away from the boxy typology of architecture seen elsewhere. The school required a long-span roof structure to function as its gymnasium. The height of the project supposedly being 15 meters, the bamboo trusses were at their limit. Also, the overall aesthetic of the school didn't support the use of steel roof covers.

Structure and Space

The structure was initially a series of parabolic arches assembled by curved poles. The lateral buckling made this structure endangered to wind forces. Later, the parabolic beams were crossed over each other like in a basket to achieve a hybrid that holds an architectural membrane as the roof cover.

The uncanny resemblance of the initial idea to an animal ribcage helped further elaborate and explore the structural mantle of each component. The thin ribbed members under compressive and bending forces are balanced with the membrane that acts as tendons and muscles. Architectural membranes contain fiberglass inlays to counter bidirectional tension forces. These membranes form the anticlastic bamboo gridshells that wrap around to give the perception of skin. The geometry of the structural system is strengthened by hanging three-dimensional curved surfaces.

The overall state of stability of the structure reduces the minimum thickness of the members. The uninterrupted span of 19 meters provides a seamless interactive space with views on all sides. The entrances are framed by lifting the roof fabric which makes the impression of a floating structure. The geometry is further detailed by small openings at the top that accentuate the bamboo ribs and the skin.

Construction and Community

The structure sets new bars in the field of parametric design and form-finding. Geometric optimization helps overcome various structural barriers arising due to external as well as internal forces. The ideas underwent tests on a scaled model before being implemented. The model also acts as a reference for the construction besides several drawings and detailing.

These references made the process much more intuitive and worker-friendly. IBUKU employs various classes of workers comprising the Balinese and Javanese craftsmen and labourers. IBUKU's approach towards building encompasses a distinctive ideal of developing newer communities while preserving the existing ones.


The spatial construct of the projects by IBUKU promotes programmatic freedom while still responding to the users. The spaces are open and voluminous yet intricately planned from structure to furniture.

The use of materials like steel and concrete are restricted to foundations and critical structure areas making the buildings predominantly organic and environment friendly. The amalgamation of exquisite engineering with sensitive spatial awareness makes the Arc a pioneering work in the territory of socialistic vernacular architecture.

We hold a special interest in working with bamboo and making long-lasting and unconventional structures. Please reach out to us here or email at if you resonate with the design ideology and want to experiment with such structures for your spaces along with us.

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