Called Bamboo Ring, the structure shows how rings of bamboo and carbon fibre can be woven together to create extremely strong, self-supporting structures.
Speaking to Dezeen and other journalists at a launch event, Kuma said he thinks this is “the material of the future”.
“This is a new materiality that we can try to bring to the city,” he stated, before suggesting that it could be used to make buildings in Japan more resistant to natural disasters like the Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami in 2011.
“Both materials are very light,” he said, “but wood is not resistant enough in an earthquake. By combining it with these carbon fibres we can create a new kind of strength.”
Kuma created Bamboo Ring in collaboration with Ejiri Structural Engineers, as well as his Kengo Kuma Laboratory at The University of Tokyo.
Curated by Clare Farrow, the installation is located in a pool of water in the V&A’s garden courtyard. It takes the form of a giant doughnut that is raised up on one side to create an arch.
The basic component of the structure is a two-metre-diameter ring, made by combining strips of the bamboo phyllostachys edulis – native to China and Taiwan, but also found in Japan – with a layer of carbon fibre.
The design team explained that the structure will naturally deform if you pull both ends at the same time.
“Our way of construction is to make the bamboo rings in a factory in Japan,” said Kuma. “We bend the bamboo first and then glue carbon fibre on behind to make it rigid. Then we transport the rings from Japan to here and we weave them in a diagonal way.”
Kuma has been working with the V&A for some time now, having completed the museum’s new Scottish outpost in Dundee last year, which features a facade of slender concrete fins.
Bamboo Ring is one of several installations on show at the V&A during London Design Festival 2019, which opens today and continues until 22 September. Other highlights include installations by architects Sam Jacob and Studio Micat.
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