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Architecture students designing with bio-materials in Bali

Architecture students designing with bio-materials in Bali

21/02/2023 |

Architecture and Landscape Architecture students from UWA School of Design (2nd and 3rd year students) have just returned from the first Vertical Hybrid Studio in Indonesia (practicals). During this trip, established as a partnership with BambooUBali and the BBMDesignLab, School of Design students designed and constructed small structures in Bamboo, developed bamboo furniture and worked on models and hands-on activities involving bamboo harvesting, design and manufacturing.

Architecture students designing with bio-materials in Bali 2

This studio will be available on a yearly basis (winter time Perth – June/July), and in 2024, it will likely include Timor-Leste for social impact outcomes. Associate Professor of Architecture, Rosangela Tenorio, PhD mentions “the BBMDesignLab is currently working with partners on this opportunity that will enhance considerably the experience for our students and for our partners."

Vertical Bamboo Studio students 

The Vertical Hybrid Studio students started with an immersion of two days in Bahasa Indonesia, which was a great way to initiate the programme. They learnt basic language skills that were valuable in their communication with the carpenters at Bamboo-U, some of whom could not speak English and then explored the local area.

Carpenters at Bamboo-U 

To find out more, we recently spoke to architecture students Isabella, Savannah and Sinan about their time during the Vertical Hybrid Studio in Indonesia.

 Sinan Architecture Student
Isabella is a second-year student, studying Bachelor of Environmental Design, majoring in Architecture at UWA. Savannah is a third-year student, studying Bachelor of Environmental Design, majoring in Architecture at UWA. Sinan is a second-year student, studying Bachelor of Environmental Design, majoring in Architecture at UWA.


Sinan, what did you enjoy most about the opportunity to participate in UWA’s Vertical Hybrid Studio?
Participating in the Vertical Hybrid Studio was a refreshing shift away from the more structured Studio classes on campus. I enjoyed the more hands-on experience we were offered in working with bamboo to build our furniture and small structure, and being given the opportunity to experience all the impressive bamboo designs and structures across Ubud in-person.

Building with bamboo 

Savannah, what did you enjoy most about the opportunity to participate in UWA’s Vertical Hybrid Studio?
The most unique part of this studio in Bali was being able to work alongside the local Balinese carpenters. Learning a new skill, whilst attempting to communicate with the language barrier prevalent was both a challenge and a feat. This idea of pushing past boundaries and trusting my own intuition has proved to be an irreplaceable life lesson that I will be able to bring into my everyday life and future career.

Learning from locals 

Sinan, What was it like undertaking an intensive bamboo design?
Undertaking the Bamboo-U program was an exciting eye-opening experience. It was inspiring to witness all the different design strategies and techniques that go into developing bamboo buildings, from residential homes to pavilions. It was also thanks to all the support from the organisers and carpenters who not only made the experience of working with a new medium a lot less daunting, but also ensured the course was engaging from day one. They covered so many aspects of bamboo beyond just design and architecture to make sure we had a deeper understanding of the material.”

Hands on experience 

Isabella, what did you enjoy most about the opportunity to participate in UWA’s Vertical Hybrid Studio?
The Bali studio provided an incredible opportunity to get some hands on experience in the field. I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in a different culture, learning about their construction and architecture, in particular learning about bamboo. I loved being able to work as a group and learning from my peers.

\Group dinner in Indonesia

Savannah, why did you decide to study Architecture at UWA?
I chose to study Architecture at UWA because I believe the School of Design offers the best course and teaching for a design pathway. The course allows me to explore my individual creativity, whilst also providing a directive pathway to feasible creative design.

Hands on learning 

Isabella, is there anything else about the trip you would like to tell us?
The trip really emphasised the need to build towards a more sustainable future. As students studying architecture now, we are the ones that will have to bring about a change. Australia’s building standards do not currently allow bamboo construction, but I think the trip really helped us fully understand how to build sustainably and how to bring that into future practice.

Vertical Hybrid Studio Exploration 

Savannah, is there anything else about the trip you would like to tell us?
This unit was hands-down the best unit I have had the opportunity to participate in. The incredible help that the teaching staff, Rosangela, Grace and David, offered was invaluable, not only from a design perspective but also on an individual and personal level. Designing and producing a design at a 1:1 scale is like nothing we have experienced in our undergraduate degree, something I hope future students have more opportunities to participate in. It has taught me the realities and limitations of design and has shifted my personal opinions on what sustainable design practice is and can be.

Group building with bamboo 

“Our ultimate goal, is to link our students with real context opportunities for learning that are meaningful and life-changing for them, as they learn about the entire supply chain of a particular material, it’s impact, it’s potential and its production process” says Rosangela.

Vertical Hybrid Studio 

The programme has been supported by the New Colombo Plan, with many students awarded a scholarship, to Indonesia. It is planned that this programme will continue on a yearly basis, every winter as part of the Undergraduate curriculum. In 2024, the studio will likely include Indonesia and Timor-Leste, for learning that reaches towards social impact design. The Bbmdesignlab has research partnerships with the Bamboo Institute in Timor-Leste, and this will lead to a larger capacity for product design development in particular.

The programme aims to build a multi-year initiative that will build institutional and people-to-people relationships with Bamboo-U, Bamboo Institute Tibar – Timor Leste, Fundacao Oriente, UNTL [Universidade Timor Lorosae] and other partners involved. Through real contexts, applied research, involving businesses that are at the frontline of contemporary bamboo research in Indonesia and Timor-Leste, it will allow students to connect with leaders in bamboo, government and civil society in Indonesia and Timor, while deepening Australian standing in the region and capabilities to further problem solving on environmental and social contexts.

Vertical Bamboo Studio Group 

If you have the willingness to change our current built environment and a passion to design with bio-materials, architecture may be your perfect career. Find out more by reading about our Architecture major and Landscape Architecture major.

Thank you
Organizers: BBM DesignLab, School of Design in partnership with Bamboo-U, Bali
Unit coordinator: Dr Rosangela Tenorio
Supporting staff: Dr Rainer Hirth, Mrs Grace Hernandez-Mesa and Mr David Morgan Bahasa Language teacher: Sang Putu, Bali
Scholarships: New Colombo Plan, DFAT
Adm Support UWA: Global Learning Office, Student Office and School Operations, School of Design

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