Vernacular architecture is the most widespread
form of building in India, constructed through traditional building
methods by local builders without using the services of a
It has been built by different civilizations in their own styles based
on the local conditions.
In India they comprise different categories – from mud-plastered
to reed-thatched to timber-framed – in accordance with the
availability of local material.
Skilful craftsmanship of the local people has helped vernacular
architecture in India evolve organically over time. Some houses are
built to withstand earthquakes, while others can be rebuilt quickly if
washed away by heavy monsoon rains.
FACTORS INFLUENCING VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE-:
CLIMATIC & GEOLOGICAL
LOCAL MATERIALS USED
In areas where there are limitations of
building material, natural materials such a mud, grass, bamboo,
thatch or sticks are used for semi-permanent structures which
require constant maintenance and replacement.
The advantages of such architecture are the construction
materials are cheap and easily available and relatively little labour is
required. Most of the bamboo structures are based on existing local
technology, which doesn't require high-tech to construct.
As the needs and resources of the people change, vernacular
architecture evolve to include more durable materials such as
stones, clay tiles, metals etc.
Though they are more expensive to build, they are very durable
Properties of Bamboo
Bamboo is one of the most amazingly, versatile
and sustainable building materials available. It grows remarkably fast
and in a wide range of climates.
It is exceedingly strong for its weight and can be used both
structurally and as a finish material.
They are extremely resistant to traction and torsion, have similar
Due to its size, lightness and resistance, bamboo is an exceptional
product of nature.
The physical characteristics are ideal for creating light but strong
Over the years, this marvelous grass lost its reputation
as a noble building material for basically two reasons:
The relatively short life span of the bamboo constructions
The association of poverty created by the widespread use of this
material as it was so cheap compared to the cost of other materials.
Even today bamboo is considered to be a poor-man’s building
Uses of Bamboo
Bamboo, also known as green gold because of its immense use, has
been used in the region for building materials, agricultural
implements, furniture, musical instruments, food items, handicrafts,
large bamboo-based industries.
The canes are beautiful when exposed and they can be cut in such
a way as to be re-combined into useful products such as flooring,
wall cladding & roof covering also.
There is a long vernacular tradition to the use of bamboo in
structures in many parts of the world, especially in more tropical
climates, where it grows into larger diameter canes.
One tricky aspect to the use of bamboo is in the joinery; since its
strength comes from its integral structure, it cannot be joined with
many of the traditional techniques used with wood. This is where the
old ways of building with bamboo can be especially informative.
Bamboo used as a
Bamboo used as a beam
Bamboo used as a wall
Bamboo is a woody evergreen plant traditionally
grown in South-East Asia, and now grown across India and the
Himalayas, North-East Australia, and South-West America.
It grows in diverse climate zones, and can spread rapidly, unless
prevented or deliberately cultivated.
Bamboo can withstand heat and humid climates – the traditional
climates of Asia, and suppliers boast that bamboo houses can
withstand hurricanes if well constructed. However, it would not be
well-suited to the weather of much of Europe, particularly heavy
and consistent rainfall and periods of snow.
There are many houses in Thailand and
Vietnam made completely from bamboo, and in many other
buildings and dwellings across Asia it is at least a component of the
However, it is not native to the UK, and the environmental cost of
importing bamboo is high. This prohibits its widespread use in the
UK as an environmental and sustainable building material source,
and efforts to grow it for this purpose are scarce.
It is a sustainable material, and when grown and harvested
locally to the construction site, could be said to be the most
ecologically friendly building material available.
The traditional vernacular architecture in China, Latin America
and in South-East Asia consists bamboo structures. Japan also has a
long building tradition with bamboo.
Introduction of cement and steel during the last 50 years has
virtually killed the Artisans working with Bamboo.
The method commonly used for
making walls is to lash bamboo
strips or bamboo culms, horizontally
and at close intervals to both sides of
hardwood or bamboo uprights or
main posts which are erected at all
corners, spaced at about 1.2m. The
spaces between the strips or culms
are filled with mud alone or with
mud and stones.
In another method, flexible
bamboo strips are woven together
and plastered on one or both the
1.Bamboos are split 2. Slivers are woven
into thin slivers into mats
4. Mats are allowed 5. Mats are pressed together 6. Sheets are
to drain and dry under high temperature trimmed to
and pressure to form shape and may
roofing sheets then be painted
3.Mats are soaked
Corrugated bamboo roofing sheets
are plywood-like roofing materials made
from layers of woven bamboo mats that have
been coated with glue and then pressed
firmly together. The corrugations are formed
by pressing the mats between corrugated
These are an excellent alternative to
asbestos, iron, zinc or plastic roofing sheets.
They are attractive, durable and highly
resistant to adverse weather conditions and
These sheets can be produced in a variety
of sizes and used to roof a wide range of
CORRUGATED BAMBOO ROOFING SHEETS
The simplest form of bamboo roof covering is made of halved bamboo culms
running full length from the eaves to the ridge. Large diameter culms are split into
two halves and the cross section at the nodes removed. The first layer of culms is
laid side by side with the concave face upwards. The second is placed over the first
with the convex face upwards. In this way the bamboo overlaps as in a tile roof and
can be made completely watertight.
Bamboo roof covering:
Fixing of bamboo corrugated sheet :
The roof should be ideally as light as possible. This would not only reduce
lateral seismic loads, but would also reduce the risk of casualties in the event
of roof collapse or partial collapse. Simple couple roof is adopted with
bamboo trusses for rafters. The rafters are fixed to the timber top beam by
means of steel clamps. Bamboo mat board (BMB) gussets, in combination
with mild steel bolts, are used for the truss rafter joints. For purlins are used
smaller diameter canes. Bamboo mat corrugated sheets (BMCS) are used for
Bamboo + Plaster
Bamboo + Concrete
Bamboo + Polymer
Bamboo + Plaster
Bamboo + Polymer + Timber
Bamboo-based Building Material
Classification of Bamboo Construction
Conventional Bamboo Construction:
Traditional or Vernacular • Modernized or Engineered Conventional
structures made by empirical
further development using scientific
Conventional: Traditional/ Vernacular
Bamboo Poles Construction
• mostly consist of planar frames (two
• mostly in one layer
• bamboo poles under compressive or bending
• using fish-mouth, rope, plug-in, and positive-
• relatively simple form
• plastered/ rendered with
mud, lime or cow dung
Conventional: Modernized/ Engineered
Bamboo Poles Construction
• two or three dimensional frames
• mostly in more than one layer
• poles under compressive or bending stresses
• using nut-bolts connector and fish-mouth
• relatively complicated form
• mostly in experimental building
Plastered Bamboo Construction
• plastered/ rendered with mortar
• with or without additional chicken
• combined with poles structure
Bamboo in India
Despite the severe degradation of the resource in
the past, India still has a considerable growing stock of bamboo.
Comparative annual harvest figures still place India at the top of
the global league.
India ranks second in the world in bamboo diversity with 136
species, while China with 300 species is leading in genetic diversity
Two-third of the growing stock of the bamboo in India is in the
seven North-Eastern States.
The states having major growing stocks of bamboo are Assam – 16
per cent, Manipur and Mizoram 14 per cent each, Madhya Pradesh
and Arunachal Pradesh 12 per cent each.
Bamboo construction In Assam
In the villages of Assam, bamboo
building is common even today.
The houses are detailed out to combat the
The floor of the house is a bamboo weave
that allows the water of a flood to flow in,
rather than keep it out. This is an important
principle of sustainable development.
During this time, the inhabitants of the
houses get into the canoe that every house
stores in the stilt area below the bamboo floor.
When the flood waters recede, the assamese
people occupy their house again.
The belongings are protected by putting
them up on the bamboo loft.
The roof of the house is built with local
grass and can last upto 10 years before it is
The bamboo weave makes
both walls and floors breathe
allowing a cross-ventilation all
over. There is natural light that
comes in from this weave as
The woven bamboo loft
allows the clay pots and pans to
be held easily.
An earth plastering is often
done over a close-knit bamboo
wall for further protection
There are several
innovative details to learn
from in the assamese house.
Bamboo Construction In Nepal
Bamboo is suitable for building house because it is easy to use,
environment friendly and durable.
Use of bamboo pillars support the roof and walls providing
added resistance to earthquakes.
Sloping roofs and use of bamboo as a wall helps in cross
ventilation of air and natural light.
Bamboo can be easily replaced and maintained in case of