Beijing and Vienna-based architecture studio Penda wants to use bamboo to build modular, sustainable housing systems that could house up to 200,000 people. The team's first stab at the idea came last year when they conceived of One with the Birds, a modular bamboo hotel comprised of triangular, scalable cabins that can expand horizontally or vertically.

Because it's such a versatile model — the improbably sturdy bamboo structures could fill pretty much any housing need, including emergency shelters — Penda made a second mock up (called Rising Canes) for the recent Beijing Design Week 2015

"We chose bamboo as a main construction material, as it has long traditional roots in China and is a fantastic building material, which currently leads a underrated existence in the architectural process of construction," studio co-founders Dayong Sun and Chris Precht told Dezeen, adding, "This pavilion can be seen as a first step of many to follow, as the structural system is fully modular, ecological, and easy to expand in every direction."

Working within the cradle-to-cradle guidelines, Penda build the structures using expandable x-joints lashed together by rope — think of a desert island raft and you'll be right on the money. No screws or nails are needed which simultaneously employs sustainable building techniques and eliminates unnecessary waste. 

Penda envisions a single project that expands over 10 years to house 20,000 families, with future building resources supplied by a 250-acre bamboo grove planted amidst the structures.

"With this patient and natural expansion, the project describes a true ecological approach of growth, which leaves no harm on the surrounding environment nor on the building material itself and is therefore a counter movement to a conventional way of the present construction process. We believe that in present times a sustainable way of construction is more valuable than ever," Penda added. "The current state of irresponsible city planning, air-pollution and economic crisis asks the architecture profession to rethink the process of building,"



Architecture: Penda

Project team: Chris Precht, Dayong Sun, Kerry Xie, Veit Burgbacher, Bai Xue, Quan He, Li Pengchong, Frank Li, Snow Sun, Anna Andronova

Photos: Xia Zhi and Hua Su

Kelly McCartney


Kelly McCartney |

Having won prestigious literary competitions in both grade school and junior high, I attended college with a Scripps Howard Foundation scholarship, earned a BA in Journalism, and interned at Entertainment

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