Bamboo Farm Office: headquarters of a prototype farm producing sustainable building materials / Ingvartsen Architects
Text description provided by the architects. The Bamboo Farm Office is the new headquarters of a prototype farm in Korogwe, northern Tanzania, where different bamboo species are grown to assess their suitability for use as building materials. The Farm Office building showcases different ways of using industrial bamboo, including corrugated bamboo roof sheets, doors, siding and furniture. The project was designed by architects Jakob Knudsen, Hannah Wood and Otis Sloan Brittain, with guidance from Salum Mshamu and Lorenz von Seidlein, and built by a team of builders led by Kiondo Mgumi.
The project reconnects with the history of bamboo cultivation in Tanzania to explore the potential of this carbon sequestering material for use in construction today. Bamboo can grow fifteen times the net weight of wood species such as pine in the same time period and does well in a hot tropical climate. This makes bamboo-based construction products a viable alternative in today’s construction market currently focused on cement, glass, plastic and wood of unsustainable origin.
Finding alternative material options is essential because according to UN projections the population of Tanzania is expected to more than double over the next 30 years, which will involve significant material resources for the expansion of the built environment. . In addition, Tanzania was ranked fifth in the world for the largest average annual net loss of forest area over the past decade, cutting down 421,000 net hectares each year.
The Bamboo Farm Office building uses passive design principles inspired by traditional Asian and African architecture, where construction techniques have evolved for a warm tropical climate. The timber frame creates large openings with low thermal mass to ensure interior spaces stay cool all day and night. The adjoining spaces, including a shoe store and toilets on the ground floor, are surrounded by locally produced coated bricks.
The common office on the ground floor and bedrooms on the first floor are covered with agricultural shade netting and wire mesh, with split bamboo netting on the upper floors for added privacy. A kitchenette, custom furniture and doors were built locally and include woven bamboo cladding produced by start-up Eco-Shelter. The roof is constructed using corrugated bamboo sheets attached to a wooden truss. The project is the first of its kind in Tanzania to be constructed from these new bamboo products and hopes to highlight the potential of bamboo as a viable material for future buildings in the region.