Elora Hardy, a Founder and Creative Director of Ibuku, a company that builds original bamboo structures with modern engineering, highlights the importance of sustainable design in the tropics and abroad. Ibuku totes bamboo as the sustainable material of the future citing its strength, durability, and versatility in design structures. Hardy leads Ibuku with her vision and sustainable design innovating the way we build and design houses without harming the environment.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What was your background before creating Ibuku and tackling sustainable design?
Elora Hardy: I was raised on the beautiful island of Bali, but 14 years of my young adult life I spent in the United States, where I received a Bachelor Fine Arts degree from Tufts University and then I moved to New York City to design prints for Donna Karan. In 2010 I decided to return to Bali and carry on the incredible work of the design-build team that created the famous Green School in Bali.
Actually, Ibuku was born out of the construction of the Green School, which was founded by John and Cynthia Hardy to create a natural, student-focused learning environment and inspire students to be creative and innovative. Now we continue to design furniture and gardens for the Green School.
I’m currently working as the Creative Director of the Ibuku team and I can say, that growing up in Bali and working on small but creative projects with highly experienced craftsmen taught me that with help I can make everything that I imagine.
Photo Credit: Ibuku Team
What is Ibuku’s mission?
E.H.: Ibuku is a team of young designers, architects, engineers, structural model makers and artisan craftsmen, who are exploring groundbreaking ways of using bamboo to build hotels, homes, schools, bridges and event spaces in Bali, Indonesia. Ibuku’ s goal is to provide spaces in which people can live in an authentic relationship with nature. We design fully functional homes and we make furniture of natural materials and build in such ways, in which they can integrate with nature. Ibuku has already built over 50 bamboo structures in Bali and around this region. Some of the completed main projects are the Green School, Green Village, Sharma Springs and Bambu Indah Eco Resort.
In the Photo: Bambu Indah Sumba House. Photo Credit: Brian Hodges
Why does Ibuku choose bamboo as the main material for buildings?
E.H: We choose bamboo because it is a beautiful, strong, flexible and dynamic building material. I feel so excited about the possibilities of building with bamboo. It is plentiful; it grows extremely fast. In fact, a bamboo shoot can become a structural column within three years and some species have been measured to grow 2 inches an hour or up to one and a half meter per day. Its poles mature in just 3-4 years, and grow in batches in a clump that re-grow for decades without requiring tending, it is extremely sustainable. Fantastic, right? My father John and his wife Cynthia chose bamboo to build their “Green School” out of because it was the best possible resource to live up to that name. I believe, building with bamboos will make the world cleaner and more beautiful.
Can you please tell us more about the Ibuku working routine?
E.H: First, we select bamboo from the river valleys and mountains of the islands of Bali and Java in Indonesia. We harvest from clumps that, once established, grow a new generation of shoots each year. It takes just a few months for a new bamboo shoot to reach its full height, and in three years it becomes timber.
Due to termites and powder post beetle infestations, we treat our bamboo with a boron solution with help from experts, like Raleigh termite control, that renders the bamboo indigestible to insects. The solution is reused in a closed-loop system ensuring minimal impact on the immediate ecosystem.
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For our design process, we first create structural models made of hand-whittled bamboo sticks, which then will be replicated into 3D models. Our architects and engineers study the models in depth to ensure structural integrity and longevity.
The most important part of Ibuku´s process is construction. We are very proud of having a great team of skilled bamboo craftsmen, many of whom are descended from generations of wood and stone carvers. We also design furniture and interiors for each home. Our talented craftsmen transform poles of bamboo into floors, walls, baskets, beds, chairs, kitchen, ceilings, stairs and tables.
In the Photo: Green Village. Photo Credit: Rio Helmi
What is the ultimate goal when it comes to Ibuku’s work? What do you want to be remembered by?
E.H: It’s time for everyone to realize that people are capable of designing and innovating a wonderful world out of natural materials that won’t run out on us. I see what we do inspiring people to see that.
Sustainability can be exciting and luxurious and big-thinking, not just reducing and reusing and being less-bad. It’s become our role to keep the environment in a state of balance that is comfortable for us all to live in.
Who inspires you the most?
E.H: Daenerys Stormborn. Just kidding.
Recommended reading: “JOHN HARDY: MY GREEN SCHOOL DREAM”