Bridging the gap between the old and the new is never easy. Traditional building methods, where you often adjust to the unpredictability of a natural material, seem to contrast with the mechanical precision of modern construction. Sombra Verde – a bamboo gazebo developed by AIRLAB and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) as part of Singapore’s Urban Design Festival 2018 – bridges this gap. The traditional raw bamboo poles, used extensively throughout Southeast Asia, are combined with 3D printed connectors, utilizing a series of new technologies. The result is an iconic, lightweight structure in Singapore’s Duxton Plain Park that promotes the use of public space, sheltering the population from both the intense sun and heavy rain.
By their very nature, bamboo poles vary in cross-section, thickness, and bend. In response to this, digital measurements were vital in achieving this structure. Each of the 117 poles were cut to length and digitized by the team. The information was then used to calculate the structural capacity and consequently its optimal position within the structure.
The data was then used in the design and fabrication of the 36 bespoke connecting pieces, and the material PLA was used to 3D print each individual element. An inexpensive and sustainable plant-based polymer, PLA’s properties make for an economical printing process, while the seamless, plastic node tightens on connection with the bamboo, the planned rotation enabling the structure to act as one.
The pavilion measures 8.50 x 6.50 meters with a height of 3.00 meters and weighs less than 150kg. Its transparent, green, cellular polycarbonate roof rests carefully upon the network of bamboo beneath, which itself meets the ground gracefully on three inverted tripod columns.
Design: AirLab, Singapore University of Technology and Design (air.sutd.edu.sg)
Airlab @SUTD: Assistant Professors Felix Raspall and Carlos Bañón in SUTD, and PhD Researcher Felix Amtsberg in SUTD-MIT
Project Lead: Felix Raspall, Felix Amtsberg, Carlos Bañón
Team: Yuxin He, Sourabh Maheshwari, Tay Jenn Chong, Aurelia Chan, Anna Toh Hui Ping, Sihan Wang, Mohit Arora
Sponsors: LopeLab, Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore, Singapore University of Technology and Design, and Center for Digital Manufacturing and Design (DManD)