5.22-japan-5-detail-a renewable resource Highlights Relevant to Sustainable Design:

We can learn to leverage more out of raw materials.

I worked with bamboo on different projects, and its potential impressed me at multiple levels. Bamboo grows from the ground straight up at the same thickness that it leaves the earth. It is a grass that has incredible tensile strength and has multiple applications for the Japanese people. The drawing on the left side is what a bamboo plant looks like when it leaves the ground. In this case, the diameter is 3 3/4”. The size of any given bamboo shoot within a “system” mirrors the size of the other family members. When you see a bamboo grove, it is not a cluster of individual plants but a single macro-organism. Some of the Japanese “giant” bamboo may grow at a rate of a foot or more in a day. We cut down some that was over fifty feet tall. The material is still used today for anything from scaffolding in building construction to basket making. More than two decades after my work in Japan, my wife and I incorporated bamboo for the floor in one of the rooms that we were renovating for our solar home outside of Philadelphia.

I have also seen the versatility that bamboo offers for fabric and even replacements for the disposable paper towels that we too often churn through. Bamboo is an excellent fast-growing renewable resource with many more potential applications. We have an opportunity in America to align botanists with material scientists and explore more ways to leverage cost-effective applications of renewable resources with building needs.

5.23.Japan-5-detail-b drawing details from this sketchbook in addition to focus on renewable resource winners


thick walls, triangle window, castle

5.24.Japan-5-detail-c drawing details from this sketchbook in addition to focus on renewable resource winners


Japanese roof


The figure outline in this image is for scale to illustrate the size of the fold-out field drawing. The descriptions of certain key elements and insights are included with the accompanying drawings in this section.


renewable resource, thick wall, Japanese roof

Author and illustrator: Charlie Szoradi is an architect, inventor, and the CEO of Independence LED Lighting. He writes about many other topics related to renewable resource use through his extensive travels around the world.

If you have found this posting online, it is an excerpt from Mr. Szoradi’s book Learn from Looking that served as the inspiring seed content for this drawing share resource. For additional drawings and insights on renewable resource applications, we hope that you enjoy exploring LearnfromLooking.com. You can search via general terms such as sustainability as well as narrower terms such as the renewable resource, bamboo.