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Architects advocate bamboo

As Cambodia’s construction industry booms, a group of French architects wants to add sustainability by reintroducing bamboo as a building material.

French group Architects Without Territories (Aster) is building a structure entirely out of bamboo in Takhmao town, with the help of Cambodian workers, to serve as a training centre, a material testing lab and a headquarters for bamboo promotion.

“Bamboo is economically sustainable, friendly for the environment and it’s a way to build very easily,” said Justine Duval, an Aster volunteer.

An invasive plant, bamboo is easy to grow and durable. And using bamboo instead of other woods or concrete could also reduce the logging and sand dredging activities long identified by conservationists as destroying Cambodia’s forests and waterways.

“In past, people built a lot with bamboo in Cambodia, but that changed because people started thinking that it’s ‘poor-people material’,” said Duval.

However, local attitudes may be swinging back in bamboo’s favour. Duval said that she received interest from rich people who want exotic bamboo houses, as well as aspiring homeowners on a tight budget.

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