The food and drinks industry is coming under a lot of righteous and justified fire of late for its contribution to the seemingly interminable environmental problems. With issues such as food wastage in a country where, yes there is a growing middle class and according to the World Bank, 70% of the population are now considered economically secure, but inequality is rife and the environmental awareness of Vietnam’s F&B industry is only just now starting to gain traction with campaigns like Zero Waste. Clearly there’s still a long way to go before restaurants in Vietnam adopt more sustainable methods and stop drowning the world in plastic, but one innovative solution to has been found by BambuBuild – a company looking to revolutionise the way restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels are built.
It is a mission statement that may sound a little overly familiar in these troubled times, but according to BambuBuild they aim to create green constructions and contribute to make a better environment through promoting natural materials and renewable resource usage. While the green ethos behind BambuBuild may be one that is currently dominating the national dialogue regarding Vietnam’s waste, the Saigon-based architecture company is aiming to create something larger than bamboo straws or reusable bottles – they’re building the entire restaurant.
Founded in March, 2015 by Tran Ba Tiep and a team of architects who’d grown increasingly alarmed by the lack of sustainability that was at the forefront of Vietnam’s construction industry, BambuBuild is now emerging as a serious alternative and utilises bamboo as a versatile construction material. Dang Vo Thanh Huong, a spokesperson for BambuBuild, explained to me that their journey may have started with Vo Trong Nghia – Tran Ba Tiep’s teacher – but now BambuBuild belongs to the design and construction teams. “This is a very new and long-term journey, but we hope that, with our effort through the bamboo architecture, we can make a small contribution to our green planet.”
Beyond just making a renewable, ecologically sound structure, Dang went to detail the importance of bamboo in Vietnamese culture. She sees BambuBuild as an homage to the traditional means available to the Vietnamese over the course of history, “Furthermore, bamboo is very traditional and makes us feel close to our ancestors, when we have had war, bamboo was our weapon, our food and our home, but for now we want to make it a symbol of our country.” Of course, this is a bold statement for a company that aims to create restaurants, bars and cafes out of more natural materials, but BambuBuild is aware of this too. “I know this sounds like a very big deal, but who knows, step by step we can make a change.” Naturally enough, plenty of restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars have already been eager to become a part of this visually stunning, environmentally conscious construction revolution.
Đặng went on to say why the use of bamboo is so much more sustainable than regular construction materials. “Bamboo only takes three to five years to grow, so we can harvest it much faster than we could wood, but also as long as the root remains, then the same tree will grow back again and again, which is great because bamboo has so many more purposes beyond just architecture.”
Having just completed a yet to open restaurant in Long An province, BambuBuild appear to be going from strength to strength, with projects popping up across the country from North to South – most notably the recently completed Bamboo Long House Restaurant in Dong Hoi, the capital city of Quang Binh Province. Closer to home, BambuBuild have already completed an exciting project here in Hanoi, Fresh Garden Bakery & Cafe on 25 Tran Thai Tong, Dich Vọng Hau, Cau Giay.
With the relatively easy access to bamboo across Vietnam, the accessibility and sustainability of this project is all but assured, while those who have their doubts about the durability of bamboo have also been considered by BambuBuild. “Actually, we are not only building restaurants, but many types of building such as coffee houses, resorts and restaurants using our bamboo structure and even libraries, offices and spas with our bamboo decorations. People normally think that bamboo is not durable, but there have been many bamboo projects all over the world and most last for more than 50 years – some even suffer through typhoons and survive. We are enthusiastic about bamboo and we have an idea to make it simpler and easier to use, soon we want to create more environmentally friendly houses from bamboo too.”
For more information on BambuBuild’s research into the uses of bamboo, along with where to find their previous and upcoming projects, check out their website.