when i was nine years old, my mom asked me what i would wantmy house to look like, and i drew this fairy mushroom. and then she actually built it. (laughter) i don't think i realizedthis was so unusual at the time, and maybe i still haven't, because i'm still designing houses. this is a six-story bespoke homeon the island of bali.
it's built almost entirely from bamboo. the living room overlooks the valleyfrom the fourth floor. you enter the house by a bridge. it can get hot in the tropics, so we make big curving roofsto catch the breezes. but some rooms have tall windowsto keep the air conditioning in and the bugs out. this room we left open. we made an air-conditioned, tented bed.
and one client wanted a tv roomin the corner of her living room. boxing off an area with tall wallsjust didn't feel right, so instead, we made this giant woven pod. now, we do have all the necessaryluxuries, like bathrooms. this one is a basketin the corner of the living room, and i've got tell you, some peopleactually hesitate to use it. we have not quite figured outour acoustic insulation. so there are lots of thingsthat we're still working on, but one thing i have learned
is that bamboo will treat you wellif you use it right. it's actually a wild grass. it grows on otherwise unproductive land -- deep ravines, mountainsides. it lives off of rainwater,spring water, sunlight, and of the 1,450 species of bamboothat grow across the world, we use just seven of them. that's my dad. he's the one who got mebuilding with bamboo,
and he is standing in a clump of dendrocalamus asper nigerthat he planted just seven years ago. each year, it sends upa new generation of shoots. that shoot, we watched it grow a meterin three days just last week, so we're talking about sustainabletimber in three years. now, we harvest from hundredsof family-owned clumps. betung, as we call it, it's really long, up to 18 meters of usable length. try getting that truck down the mountain.
and it's strong: it hasthe tensile strength of steel, the compressive strength of concrete. slam four tons straight down on a pole, and it can take it. because it's hollow, it's lightweight, light enough to be liftedby just a few men, or, apparently, one woman. (laughter) (applause) and when my fatherbuilt green school in bali,
he chose bamboo for allof the buildings on campus, because he saw it as a promise. it's a promise to the kids. it's one sustainable materialthat they will not run out of. and when i first saw these structuresunder construction about six years ago, i just thought, this makes perfect sense. it is growing all around us. it's strong. it's elegant. it's earthquake-resistant.
why hasn't this happened sooner,and what can we do with it next? so along with some ofthe original builders of green school, i founded ibuku. ibu means "mother," and ku means "mine,"so it represents my mother earth, and at ibuku, we are a teamof artisans, architects and designers, and what we're doing togetheris creating a new way of building. over the past five years together, we have built over 50 unique structures,most of them in bali. nine of them are at green village --
you've just seen insidesome of these homes -- and we fill them with bespoke furniture, we surround them with veggie gardens, we would love to invite you allto come visit someday. and while you're there,you can also see green school -- we keep buildingclassrooms there each year -- as well as an updatedfairy mushroom house. we're also working ona little house for export. this is a traditional sumbanese homethat we replicated,
right down to the details and textiles. a restaurantwith an open-air kitchen. it looks a lot like a kitchen, right? and a bridge that spans22 meters across a river. now, what we're doing,it's not entirely new. from little huts to elaborate bridgeslike this one in java, bamboo has been in use acrossthe tropical regions of the world for literally tens of thousands of years. there are islands and even continentsthat were first reached by bamboo rafts.
but until recently, it was almost impossible to reliablyprotect bamboo from insects, and so, just about everythingthat was ever built out of bamboo is gone. unprotected bamboo weathers. untreated bamboo gets eaten to dust. and so that's why most people,especially in asia, think that you couldn't be poor enoughor rural enough to actually want to live in a bamboo house. and so we thought,
what will it take to change their minds, to convince peoplethat bamboo is worth building with, much less worth aspiring to? first, we needed safe treatment solutions. borax is a natural salt. it turns bamboo intoa viable building material. treat it properly, design it carefully, and a bamboo structurecan last a lifetime. second, build somethingextraordinary out of it.
inspire people. fortunately, balinese culture fosters craftsmanship. it values the artisan. so combine thosewith the adventurous outliers from new generationsof locally trained architects and designers and engineers, and always remember that you are designing for curving, tapering, hollow poles.
no two poles alike, no straight lines, no two-by-fours here. the tried-and-true, well-crafted formulasand vocabulary of architecture do not apply here. we have had to invent our own rules. we ask the bamboo what it's good at,what it wants to become, and what it says is: respect it,design for its strengths, protect it from water,and to make the most of its curves. so we design in real 3d,
making scale structural models out of the same materialthat we'll later use to build the house. and bamboo model-making, it's an art, as well as some hardcore engineering. so that's the blueprint of the house. and we bring it to site, and with tiny rulers,we measure each pole, and consider each curve, and we choosea piece of bamboo from the pile to replicate that house on site.
when it comes down to the details,we consider everything. why are doors so often rectangular? why not round? how could you make a door better? well, its hinges battle with gravity, and gravity will always win in the end, so why not have it pivot on the center where it can stay balanced? and while you're at it,why not doors shaped like teardrops?
to reap the selective benefitsand work within the constraints of this material, we have really had to push ourselves, and within that constraint,we have found space for something new. it's a challenge: howdo you make a ceiling if you don't have anyflat boards to work with? let me tell you, sometimes i dreamof sheet rock and plywood. but if what you've gotis skilled craftsmen and itsy bitsy little splits,
weave that ceiling together, stretch a canvas over it, lacquer it. how do you design durablekitchen countertops that do justice to this curvingstructure you've just built? slice up a boulder like a loaf of bread, hand-carve each to fit the other, leave the crusts on, and what we're doing,it is almost entirely handmade. the structural connectionsof our buildings
are reinforced by steel joints, but we usea lot of hand-whittled bamboo pins. there are thousands of pins in each floor. this floor is made of glossyand durable bamboo skin. you can feel the texture under bare feet. and the floor that you walk on, can it affect the way that you walk? can it change the footprintthat you'll ultimately leave on the world? i remember being nine years old and feeling wonder,
and possibility, and a little bit of idealism. and we've got a really long way to go, there's a lot left to learn, but one thing i know is thatwith creativity and commitment, you can create beauty and comfort and safety and even luxury out of a material that will grow back. thank you.