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Public tribute to bamboo's design and construction potential is underway at QUT

Sunday March 6, 2016

An intricate tunnel crafted from bamboo will grace the soft contours of QUT/Goodwill Bridge lawn, a testament to ongoing investigation by QUT architecture and design students of one of the cheapest and most sustainable building materials available.
Fourth-year architecture student Steve Szell is president of The Dub, a group of QUT design students, from the QUT Creative Industries Faculty, who provide opportunities for students for collaboration and real-world projects that showcase student work to the public.
Mr Szell spearheaded Dub’s annual Bambuild project, a temporary bamboo installation series in public places in or around Gardens Point campus, inspired by his volunteer work on Woodford Folk Festival’s signature human-size bamboo installations.
“I really love working with bamboo. It’s a craft material and you have to plan structures in detail to the point you can build it,” Mr Szell said.
“Each pole is unique in shape, size and density making it a really hands-on material to work with. You have to take each piece into account, it’s like putting a puzzle together.”
Steve started the annual Bambuild project at QUT with lecturer Marissa Lindquist and classmate Jade Taniora to explore and display the use of bamboo with other design students.
“The Dub team does everything from sourcing the bamboo to workshopping the designs and final finishes through construction,” he said.
“People are able to walk through and occupy our Bambuild installations which will be featured as a part of the Asia Pacific Architectural Forum held in Brisbane in March.
“We hope it will be a place where people will stop to reflect and relax and hopefully feel a sense of connection to it.
“The designs we build have traditionally been the results of a student competition we run.
“We workshop the design with the students and build it to get their work out there into the public eye.
“This year’s structure will aim to use a traditional bamboo pinning method, like using a wooden nail, to hold it together.”
Mr Szell still volunteers at Woodford each year where the bamboo structures are a feature.
“The volunteers have had the opportunity to learn from a master bamboo craftsman Master Wang Wen-Chih who teaches us new techniques and approaches to design.
Mr Szell said bamboo is a commonly accepted vernacular building material throughout Asia.
“It has great long-term performance when it is treated properly and is slowly being accepted in various western countries as a structural material.
“Unfortunately in Australia it is not listed as a structural material but we are still able to use it for our installation pieces.”
Mr Szell said construction of the Bambuild 2016 project runs until March 8 and be on display till June 2016.

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