29 Jul A Conversation with Architect Abiodun Solanke on the Future of Bamboo Construction
Abiodun “Abi” Solanke is an architect, but likes to call himself a practitioner in the field of architecture. Currently, he is a fellow at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon. His focus is exploring how bamboo is cultivated, manufactured, and researching how it can be used as a low cost building material in Nigeria, his home country. According to Solanke, bamboo has double the structural integrity as a standard wood product, grows four times as fast as Douglas fir, and is rapidly renewable.
Solanke is moving beyond advocacy for these innovative building concepts and is taking proactive steps to make bamboo construction a reality. There are two key developments he is working to achieve; Step one is figuring how to manufacture bamboo building products in Nigeria – studs, sheathing, panels and accessories. Solanke is working with a German engineering firm that is already manufacturing bamboo OSB. Together they are establishing manufacturing methods and techniques that will function in Nigeria, where the temperature, available resources and technologies are very different. Step two is developing building code standards so that bamboo can be inspected and accepted into local and national building codes. To accomplish this, Solanke is working with Dr. Arijit Sinha at Oregon State University to complete American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) testing for the structural properties of bamboo. Once these steps are achieved, Solanke has plans to design and build a pilot project to make his research a physical reality. The prototype will demonstrate the design potential that bamboo can offer to Nigerian designers and architects.
Solanke, in collaboration with his fellow researchers in the alternative building materials industry, is well on his way to bringing an affordable and innovative solution to Nigeria, where there is lack of sustainable and contemporary building resources. Solanke is inspiring a cultural and idealogical shift in Nigeria’s architecture and construction industries, and transforming our built environment worldwide. Bamboo has already been touted as an affordable and sustainable material in the interior finish product industry, but no one has undertaken the exhaustive and extensive research that Solanke is accomplishing in the global construction industry. He’s one to watch out for in the coming decade, both as an architect and innovator.