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This wellness space designed in bamboo is evocative of a human ribcage

Indonesian architecture firm Ibuku has collaborated with bamboo construction expert Jörg Stamm and structural engineering company Atelier One to build the Arc, an intricate bamboo structure at the well-known Green School in Bali, Indonesia. The Arc comprises a series of intersecting 14-metre-tall bamboo arches joined by anticlastic gridshells, which derive their strength from curving in two opposite directions. While the resultant enclosure is strong and sturdy, its arches still manage to appear delicate and lightweight, as if they were made of fabric.

Sustainable Architecture

Ibuku is renowned for their use of bamboo to build homes, hotels, schools, and event spaces around the world. The Arc showcases their dedication to using bamboo as a construction material. The firm uses bamboo for its strength, beauty and flexibility, and also because it is an environment-friendly building material. The structure defies convention because of the use of bamboo, which itself is an enigmatic material. “The Arc at the Green School in Bali enters a new era for organic architecture, with its 19-metre-span arches, interconnected by anticlastic gridshells. It is a new community wellness space and gymnasium for the extraordinary campus, in collaboration with Jörg Stamm and Atelier One,” states Elora Hardy, creative director of Ibuku.

Unique Design

The Arc is a one-of-a-kind structure that was built after months of research and development, and fine-tuning of tailor-made details. The result is a distinctive design with delicate beauty, which stands as a testament to Ibuku’s commitment to expanding horizons in architecture and design. “The concepted structure for the Arc is totally unprecedented. Embarking on a design never executed before required some bravery and optimism. We were creative and stubborn enough to research and develop the answers needed for the success of the project,” says Rowland Sauls, the project architect.

Inspired By The Human Body

The Arc employs one of nature’s greatest strategies for creating large spaces with minimal structure. Within a human ribcage, the ribs are held in place by a tensioned flexible layer of muscle and skin. This creates a thin but strong encasement for the lungs. Similarly, in the case of the Arc, arches working in compression are held in place by tensioned anticlastic gridshells. These gridshells appear to drape across the spaces between impossibly thin arches soaring overhead. Although the gridshells appear to hang from the arches, they actually hold them up.
“The Arc operates like the ribs of a mammal’s chest, stabilized by tensile membranes analogous to tendons and muscles between ribs. Biologically, these highly tensile microscopic tendons transfer forces from bone to bone. In the Arc, bamboo splits transfer forces from arch to arch,” states Stamm, design conceptor of The Arc.

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