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Why bamboo?

Why are we interested in bamboo? Because it is widely held to be one of the most important sustainable materials in the world.

Bamboo has uses in design, construction, green innovation, farming and carbon capture. Because it is a grass and not a tree, it grows to full height and steel-comparable strength in 4 years, rather than 44 as a tree might. Even as new canes are harvested, they will immediately regrow, allowing for repeat annual harvesting. Bamboo acts an exceptional carbon sink, capturing and storing carbon in its roots.

Bamboo, also known as ‘green gold’ and ‘21st century steel’, has the potential to significantly contribute to:

  • decarbonisation in the construction industry, through engineered bamboo building and interiors 
  • sustainable farming and carbon capture 
  • detoxification of brownfield sites
  • innovation in green business and sustainable design


Imagine Bamboo explores two key questions:

1. If bamboo is such an important sustainable material for the planet, what does that mean for us in the UK, where it doesn’t grow natively?

2. What can we image, design and make with the kind of bamboo that either does or could grow here?

To answer these questions, Imagineer and artistic director Orit Azaz have brought together bamboo specialists from bamboo-growing countries across the world, as well as artists, architects, engineers, academics, designers, growers, sustainability specialists, green entrepreneurs, environmental activists, representatives of the construction industry and community groups.

Together, we are experimenting with UK-grown borinda bamboo, a clump-forming variety that copes well with the British climate. Officially named Fargesia papyrifera, this type of bamboo originates from mountainous Tibet and was originally brought to the UK by a plant hunter working for University of Liverpool.

Imagine Bamboo recognises that innovative solutions to the pressing global challenges we face require collaboration between diverse perspectives and experiences. 

As individuals, groups and organisations are empowered to make wiser choices about the materials we use, ultimately we will make the transition to a more sustainable and equitable future.