Bamboo has traditionally been used for centuries as a building and engineering material and in everyday items in various parts of the world and in India. Traditional artisans have recognized its benefits for centuries, yet the modern world of engineers, architects and designers has failed to leverage this amazing natural resource to the extent that it was once used. Commonly mistaken for being a wood, it is actually a grass and has a set of features that make it tremendously beneficial to use as an engineering material in the modern context:
Bamboo's main benefit is its amazing strength when compared to woods, metals and steel. The structure of bamboo with its long tubular fibers densely packed and bonded with starch give it amazing strength properties. According to various strength metrics such as tensile and compressive strength, some of which are mentioned in Table 1, it is superior to wood and competes with modern materials such as steel and cement.
Its strength-to-weight ratio allows it to provide amazing strength at a very low weight, thanks to its hollow tubular fibers and hollow tubular macro-structure. So, bamboo has the adequate strength to be used as a structural material.
It is the fastest-growing grass in the world, having a recorded 120cm increment in a 24 hours period (during peak growth period) and is plentifully available in most parts of India. Many of the useful species of bamboo can be harvested in under 5 years and then successively each year after for the lifetime of the plant which can range anywhere from 30 to 40 years. This fast growth rate allows it to be deemed a renewable resource, as it can responsibly be harvested from forests or farms without overexploiting the resource. Bamboo's renewability as a resource is completely evident when you compare its near yearly harvest cycle to a tree's one-time harvest after a minimum of 20-30 years of growth. Due to its amazing growth rate it can be cultivated on farms, making supply potentially limitless, allowing man to use nature's resources responsibly and in a sustainable manner.
Bamboo's light weight and amazing strength give it an amazing strength-to-weight ratio which gives bamboo homes flexibility allowing them to be resistant to high velocity forces caused by cyclones, earthquakes and flooding waters. This endows bamboo houses with a level of disaster resistance and safety that cement homes cannot offer. This is of more importance in India, as almost 60% of our population lives in areas where these types of natural disasters are likely . If a bamboo structure were to collapse, then its light weight would minimize injury to those inside the structure.