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The History of Bamboo

Bamboo has been used as a building material for centuries and proved itself to be a great substitute for wood in parts of the world where wood was not readily available. Bamboo has been used in all facets of construction centuries before the birth of Christ, and is actually still used heavily today to build skyscrapers! Let’s explore how bamboo has been used throughout history:

Bamboo as a Building Material

Bamboo construction dates back as early as the 960AD, where we can find mention of a bamboo bridge in Qian-Xian, China. There is plenty of evidence, however, that this bridge actually stood since at least the 3rd Century BC - a true display of the durability and reliability of bamboo!

Today, Bamboo is used around the world in various stages of construction. In Hong Kong, bamboo scaffolding is frequently used to build skyscrapers. It is popular due to its very easy setup and tear-down. In the Philippines, the nipa hut is a popular bamboo housing construction due to its ability to withstand the elements and provide reliable shelter. In Japan, due to the historical prevalence of wood in the region, bamboo is used primarily for fencing, fountains, grates, and gutters, which contributes to the beautifully stunning architecture in the region.

As you can see, bamboo has been thought of as a great wood alternative throughout history in areas where wood may have been scarce, due to its versatility. Bamboo also has incredible strength and pliability traits that match and exceed the traits of iron!

What Makes Bamboo a Great Wood Alternative?

Bamboo can often be underestimated because of the prevalence of wood throughout history, but don’t be fooled - bamboo is a stronger, more pliable, and more renewable building material than wood. Let’s examine the traits of bamboo and how they stack up next to wood:

Growing Time

As we all know, trees take a long time to grow into a resource suitable enough to harvest. There would be no point in cutting down a young tree as it would not have near the amount of wood needed in most building applications. Trees can generally only be harvested every 25-50 years, depending on the kind of tree. That would mean a single human generation could only harvest the same tree maybe two to three times during their lifetime - that’s not very efficient!

On the contrary, bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet. It can grow into a hearty stalk that’s suitable for harvesting every 3-6 years! The same generation that can only harvest 2-3 of the same tree during their lifetime can harvest the same stalk of bamboo around 20 times depending on the kind of bamboo - that’s a serious increase in efficiency!


In addition to being one of the most renewable resources on the planet, bamboo is also very flexible in comparison to wood and many other building materials. A unique trait in bamboo, it can be trained into a desired shape while it’s growing - the same cannot be said for a tree or any other renewable building material for that matter.

Additionally, bamboo is very easily formed and bent into a variety of shapes by using traditional heating methods if it had not been trained while it was growing. Wood can be trained into a shape using this method as well, but it generally takes much longer and is a more laborious process. Bamboo is naturally flexible, pliable and easy to work with.

Uses of Bamboo

As we have discovered, bamboo is one of the most versatile building resources in the world, which is why you can see it in action in many parts of the world. China and Japan both used laminated bamboo flooring for hundreds of years before it was commercialized to the west during the mid-90s. In the U.S. & France, consumers have the option to create a house entirely of bamboo if they should choose. In worldwide construction standards, 3 ISO standard guidelines have been created detailing the best practices for bamboo construction. Bamboo houses have also been proven to be earthquake and cyclone-resistant due to their flexibility and ability to withstand the elements!

Bamboo has been used in many other applications outside of construction as well. In India, bamboo is commonly used to build a drying rack for clothes. Bamboo has also been used in many parts of the world as ladders, gurneys, and even flagpoles! The most notable bamboo construct can be found in Shanghai - the India Pavilion. It’s the world’s largest bamboo dome at 34 meters in diameter. If all the bamboo used in the making of this incredible feat of sound architectural construction were laid end to end, it would cover a distance of 19 miles!

Use Bamboo for Your Next Project

It’s clear that bamboo has been used as a very reliable construction material for centuries. It’s still used today in many parts of the world and continues to provide an incredible alternative to wood. When you want to use bamboo for your DIY home project, Forever Bamboo carries the highest quality materials in our extensive inventory. Get a quote to get started on your next bamboo project today!

Bamboo Time line The History of Bamboo is Amazingly Rich!
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