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Looking for resources on building with bamboo and thatch

Dan Wallace

Joined: May 27, 2010
Posts: 41
I'm currently living on a farm on Maui and am interested in using some of the local material to build a small cabin. Can anyone recommend a good resource that would help teach how to build with bamboo? I'm also interested in learning about thatch roof using lauhala or grasses
Thanks in advance!
Sam White

Joined: Mar 08, 2011
Posts: 217
Location: Caerphilly, Wales, UK
A friend of mine is currently designing a floating yoga centre which is to be built from bamboo... She's struggling to find any books or architectural resources on the subject though.

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

Joined: May 13, 2010
Posts: 11
building with bamboo

john hardys green school
Gail Moore

Joined: Jul 09, 2011
Posts: 152
Location: south central Appalachia, southwest Virginia, US zone 6/7
Greetings all,

A few resources for your bamboo adventures. I hope these assist you.


is the website for the American Bamboo Society, which has numerous chapters in MANY places. they are a WEALTH of information and support



Do a search for bamboo architect or such on Youtube. (Simon Velez? is amazing)

The book, BAMBOO, GIFT OF THE GODS, by Oscar Hidalgo is a 550+ page resource for anyone. It may appear "pricey", yet would be cost effective investment.

doing a search for Images of: Bamboo gift of the gods showed this review:

""""amazon reviewer says:
4.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic book on bamboo engineering, July 28, 2007
This review is from: Bamboo: The Gift of the Gods (Hardcover)
This book is a vital reference for those of you who want to know more about building with bamboo. It covers bridges, airplane frames, aqueducts, energy storing flywheels, buildings, how to join and anchor bamboo, and much more.

The descriptions are good overall, sometimes excellent and very detailed, other times a little vague. This is not the be all and end all of bamboo books, but it is extremely good, and full of useful information. """"
search: bamboo gift of the gods

search: bamboo gift of the gods pdf


The world needs all kinds of minds. --Temple Grandin
Weird or just different?
R. Peacock

Joined: May 24, 2011
Posts: 35
Location: eastern part of West Tennessee
Ask any local owners of thatched roofs who their builders were. If you don't hire the builder, ask about an intern/apprentiship with the builder for hands on learning and tips not found in any book. As a kid I thatched one of our clubhouses with grass and kite string, but nothing much more than a 100 sq ft. Any local grower of building type bamboo will know who works with it, you could get work experence with them.

There are too many new and different mistakes out there waiting to be made to be wasteing your time repeating the same old mistakes.
Zim Lion

Joined: Oct 14, 2011
Posts: 17
The book "The bare foot architect" has some information on using bamboo and every kind of natural material, really amazing book!!
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree

Joined: Apr 03, 2010
Posts: 7374
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
This video had some good clips of thatching a cow-shed roof.

8.54 rodding the roof ready for thatching
10.45 hazel rod, and the dangers of working on the roof
12.46 cutting bracken for use as a base-coat
13.44 Keith Paynes starts to thatch

And in part two

3.08 John Letts helps with the bracken base coat.
7.14 sewing bracken on the base layer using flax string and a giant needle

The next episode shows them putting on the top layer

2.50 Keith Paynes returns to put weathering coat of straw on top of bracken base layer; unprocessed stubble is messy and un-threshed
3.36 comb made from split hazel rod and forged nails; clean thatch and align straws to improve water flow
4.49 thatching takes two weeks for a professional team, six weeks for our team
6.19 ready to fix thatch onto roof using hazel spars or pegs; split and twisted (not bent) into hairpin shape; 3000 to make and Alex can't get the technique
7.44 Alex is still failing to twist hazel spars
8.47 wheat stubble compacted onto roof; 18" thick layer of thatch altogether
9.59 finishing touches to the thatch; rods fixed externally run along every 8"; should be six or seven years before major maintenance; close as possible to a Tudor cow shed

I know the materials won't be the same as those available to you in Maui, but some of the techniques and ideas should be applicable.

How works

What is a Mother Tree ?
Jay Angler

Joined: Sep 12, 2012
Posts: 81
Has anyone come up with any good bamboo joinery info? I'd love to get Hildago's book, despite it's price, but last I tried it was darn near impossible. My trusty Librarian tried to get it on Inter-library loan and had to give up also. I *know* they're doing some nifty stuff in foreign countries, but we need a bamboo version of I. Evans to work some magic!
Chael Givan

Joined: Jan 31, 2013
Posts: 11
    1 is a lesser known but awesome resource that deals with all things bamboo (and rattan). It includes subjects like agroforestry, animal husbandry, farm planning and more. Great stuff, wandered across it a few years back doing parallel searches and loved it.

For instance, might be helpful for your needs.
Jay Angler

Joined: Sep 12, 2012
Posts: 81
Thanks Chael, That seems like an excellent resource.
Charlie Rendall

Joined: Oct 28, 2011
Posts: 26
Location: Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
It's a bit of a rough scan but I found this:

And I have other works of Oscar Hidalgo Lopez with excellent diagrams of joins and trusses that I downloaded ages ago but can't find accessible now. It was called manual de construcción con bambú and the above is a 61-page excerpt from it. I'll try digging it up again later and post it if I get lucky but for now the above is the best I can find for free.

The Gift of the Gods, while expensive, is by far the best single resource that I've ever found on the topic.

Good luck!

Charlie Rendall -

Bamboo Builder & Director of "Return to the Forest" courses, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala.

Living in the land of eternal spring: 1600m altitude; tropical highlands with warm rainy summers & warm dry winters; lots of corn, beans, sweet potatoes, avocado, coffee, hog plums, citrus, bananas and bamboo.
Jay Angler

Joined: Sep 12, 2012
Posts: 81
Hi Charlie,

Thank you so much for the PDF link. I will print it and give it to my "Spanish studying" friends and see if they can do some translating for me! I'm one of those people who is capable of confusing French and Japanese, so trying to learn Spanish is just not going to happen.

I should make a point of checking the used book lists periodically for Hidalgo's book - I don't think it's a book that many people part with once they have it, but luck is a part of living and I occasionally have some. I was quite dismayed when my librarian couldn't get me a peek at one - she's really incredible - but that shows how rare they are this far north.

In the meantime, my Phylostacis dulcis put out a record culm (for my patch) this year, but I really need to think about growing a bamboo that is better for building. It was a bit of a compromise when I got it (it tastes delicious) but the material I've read about building suggests it's not as strong as many alternative varieties, and it's good taste is actually a dis-advantage if you're building with it!! Decisions, decisions!

Thanks again Jay
subject: Looking for resources on building with bamboo and thatch