Do you ever feel that you were meant for something else in life? Have you ever pondered the idea that maybe you are not meant to be doing what you are for a job? Maybe you would be happier doing something else. Let’s be real. Who hasn’t had that thought? Everybody has this feeling from time to time, but how many of us actually pursue our dreams whole heartedly? How many of us would be able to just switch paths in life after everything we’ve already invested? It takes guts, passion, and faith in yourself in order to start over and pursue something new. That is exactly what Elora Hardy, who had a very successful career in the fashion industry, did with her life. She was fed up with the fashion industry and always had a dream to be more creative, constructive and, more importantly, make a positive impact on the world. It was a dream that started when she was just a child. Her mother asked her a question that would inspire her path in life. Her mother asked simply, if she could have her dream house, what it would look like? Elora was only 9 years old when she drew a picture that would inspire a change and fuel inspiration around the world. Elora packed up and moved to the island of Bali in Indonesia to pursue her dream. A dream that required creativity, a lot of engineering, and the help of many people. The most important part of her dream however, is that it includes one of the most sustainable materials in the world – bamboo.
When Elora was just 9 years old, her mother asked her what her dream home would look like. This is the drawing that captured Elora’s perfect house. It would inspire the rest of her life and guide her to where she is and what she is doing today.
Elora’s parents surprised her by building her dream house! Her dad was a huge advocate of using bamboo for the structure. He saw so much potential in the material and thought that if used right, it could revolutionize the construction industry all together.
Elora has taken her parents’ passion one step further and is creating some absolutely magnificent homes, tree houses, and structures in Indonesia made entirely out of bamboo.
Her designs are completely functional works of art. Her material choice is unique and beautiful, as no two pieces of bamboo are alike. This creates many challenges, but offers an immense reward if used properly. Her designs are based around the tapering and curved shaped of the sustainable and eco-friendly resource.
Elora and her team of designers and engineers create these structures, keeping in mind that bamboo is not your typical building material. It has the compressive force of concrete, the strength-to-weight ratio of steel, and is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet. Some species can grow 12 inches or more in a day. Bamboo also grows easily on un-farmable land, saving space for harvesting. Because of its strength, designers take advantage and use the curves to their benefit. In this bamboo tree house in Bali, they’ve implemented a bamboo bridge to enter the dwelling. How beautiful is that for a front entry?
Elora and her team at Ibuku have built over 50 unique structures, mostly in Bali. As no two pieces of bamboo are alike, each structure is an individual with its own personality and character. She is throwing traditional building design and technique right out the window and inspiring people around the world to rethink their ways and materials.
Every single element in these homes is completely different and specific for the material used. Take a look at a typical rectangle door in your home. Gravity will forever be pulling at those hinges. Gravity always wins, so Elora wanted to revamp the traditional design that has been used for centuries. She created tear drop shaped and round doors that hinge in the middle offering greater support and better durability. The round shapes are more soothing and inviting. They are natural shapes that flow with the surrounding environment.
It can be very difficult to create a roof structure without the use of 2×4’s and drywall. Well, with some serious weaving and following the natural curves of bamboo, these roofs are strong, lightweight, and absolutely stunning. They fit right into the natural surroundings. It can get very hot in Indonesia, so the roofs and ceilings mimic giant leaves. They not only offer shade, but they capture the light breezes and actually cool the homes down.
These unique structures are designed for you personally and whatever you may need. You can keep them simple, just like you would imagine a treehouse in Bali would be like, or you can fill them with modern amenities, like air conditioning, full working kitchens, plumbing, or even cable television. Size doesn’t matter either. There are some bamboo homes that Elora has designed and built that have over 6 levels!
The homes are almost entirely made from bamboo which was once a very big problem. Asian cultures have been using bamboo for centuries, but not one bamboo building that was built in the past is standing today. Even remote villagers say they would never live in a bamboo home. The reason is that bamboo is very susceptible to weather and bugs. Thanks to a new treating process, this will never be a problem again. They found that borax, a naturally occurring salt, actually treats the bamboo for weather and keeps the bugs away. It is completely natural as well, so there is no detrimental effect on the environment. Elora stated that, “Bamboo will treat you well if you use it right”. She has obviously proven this with these incredibly beautiful organic structures.
This is the fourth floor living room on one of her designs. It overlooks a vast valley. The owners wanted a kitchen and a TV room built into this home. Elora decided that vertical walls would completely take away from her vision so she decided to keep the walls open and build a roof that would protect the interior, as well as capture the breezes flowing up from the valley. In the left of the image, the TV room is actually a woven cave made solely from bamboo! It needed to have some shade to prevent glare but still fit with the natural design of the home. Notice the oval swivel door leading into the cave.
Because each piece of bamboo has its own character and shape, they have to come up with designs that fit the materials. Traditionally we have come up with materials that fit our designs. This leads to square homes with no organic shapes or character. Using bamboo, natural designs are created that compliment the surrounding areas. Since the organic shapes utilize the bamboo’s strengths, these buildings are incredibly strong and capable of withstanding most anything, as long as they’re treated right and cared for.
Elora’s designs are now offering the people of Indonesia, not only jobs, but also challenging the local engineers and builders. They are essentially learning as they go, discovering new skills to be implemented alongside traditional bamboo building techniques. While the structures are anything but traditional, most of the construction practices are very traditional and primitive. These designs are inspiring engineers and designers all around the world to take different materials into consideration while create something beautiful.
You can see how each piece of bamboo relies on the rest of the structure for support. Individually, the pieces would be nearly impossible to work with. Treating many unique pieces as a whole, that can rely on each other’s strong points and natural curves, allows for some truly massive structures made entirely out of bamboo.
The tree house designs are far from traditional but seem to fit into the environment seamlessly. Even though they are newly designed buildings, the structures look like they’ve been there forever. At first glance you might think you are looking at a remote village or small society in the jungle of Bali. This is, in fact, a brand new home with some very luxurious amenities and comforts. The multiple leveled roof on the home looks just like a broad leaved plant that is growing and maturing with age.
I stated earlier that they are mixing modern technology with primitive construction techniques. While some steel pins safely hold a lot of the supports together for added strength, hand carved bamboo dowels are used to hold each individual floor board in place. Literally thousands of these small dowels are hand carved and hammered into place for the roughly 1′ wide bamboo skins.
Because most of their designs are completely unique, designers have to build miniature models using the same materials in order to test the structural integrity and find out how the curved, tapered pieces of bamboo will react with each other. This allows the engineers to visualize their design before they take on the daunting task of building a completely one-of-a-kind structure.
Due to the sustainability and eco-friendliness of the material, they try to use bamboo in every aspect possible, from the floors to ceilings and walls. Even hand carved pins and dowels are used to help hold the pieces together, adding strength and rigidity. This is a time-consuming process, but obviously well worth the end result.
These designs are quickly becoming noticed around the world, thanks to this bamboo tree house in Bali. Bamboo was thought to be a dangerous building material because of rot and insects, but with the new natural treatment process it can be utilized to its full potential. Bamboo can be grown pretty much anywhere, including unproductive land that can’t be used for farming. This makes it a viable and renewable resource that has an unlimited amount of potential.
Elora’s implementation of the bamboo’s strength and natural curves creates a magnificent mixture of traditional building and modern design with an unprecedented utilization of an extremely renewable resource.
More info: IBUKU
I’ve had a dream since I was a little boy to have an adult tree house. I built a few when I was a kid but I’m not sure my construction skills at 8 years old were quite as impressive as Elora Hardy’s. After seeing these breathtaking homes and structures in Indonesia my dreams have changed a little. I still want an adult tree house, but after seeing these, you could say my design plan has improved greatly. I can’t get over how beautiful these works of art are. That’s exactly what they are. The perfect combination of art, design, and hardcore engineering! Elora implements the bamboo’s strengths and curves to achieve her bold designs and inspire designers and engineers around the world to start thinking outside of the box. Or better yet, outside of the typical box home.