September 25, 2007
Vietnam architects shine with Asian architecture award
Vo Trong Nghia and Nguyen Hoa Hiep became the first Vietnamese to win first prize at the Architects Regional Council Asia Awards in Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
The team’s award-winning structure “Wind and Water Café” was designed in cooperation with Japanese architects Sakata Minoru and Ohara Hisanori.
The bamboo café is located in Binh Duong Province and has been designed to bring cool breezes through seating areas on hot days.
In an interview with the VnExpress newswire, Nghia said the unique design, natural energy and environmentally-friendly materials made the project shine.
In April, the work won 2nd prize at the 2007 International Bamboo Building Design Competition, held in the US.
The bi-annual Architects Regional Council Asia Awards (ARCASIA) awards encourage the development and improvement of the Asian environment and promote the awareness of the role of architecture and architects in the socio-economic and cultural life of Asian countries.
ARCASIA was established in 1967 with six founders – the architecture institutes of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Representatives from seventeen countries and regions now participate in the group.
Source: Thanh Nien, VnExpress, ARCASIA – Compiled by Luu Thi Hong
September 25, 2007
Saturday September 15, 2007
Going ‘Green’ with Bamboo
Bamboo products are popping up everywhere and in the most unlikely places.
By Annemarie Donkin
Signal Staff Writer
What is round and green and grows all over? Bamboo of course. The fast growing Asian grass is hitting the mainstream of house decorating big time and is being used in so many ways that are fun and exciting. We know about bamboo blinds, stacking bamboo steamers and bamboo spoons. But one of the world’s most durable and fast-growing materials is popping up everywhere; stripped and laminated into flooring, kitchen countertops, custom kitchen cabinets, kitchen carts, cutting boards, platters, knife holders, plates, bowls, knives, forks, sporks and, of course, chopsticks. There are even entire lines of thin, disposable and biodegradable bamboo platters, plates, bowls and utensils.
What could be more ecologically friendly than surrounding yourself with the newest darling of the “Green Revolution”? Forget about endangered tropical hardwoods or teak. Throw away those unsanitary, petroleum-based plastics. Shun toxic aluminum cookware and mellow out with the beauty of bamboo. Steam your dinner in a traditional Chinese steamer, stir it up with a bamboo fork or spoon, chop your vegetables on a bamboo cutting board, on a bamboo countertop, while you stand on a bamboo floor. Then put your dinner on a bamboo platter, eat soup or rice from a bamboo bowl or eat your veggies from a bamboo plate with a bamboo fork. Your table can be decorated with bamboo vases and candleholders. After dinner, you can serve wine and drinks from your rolling bamboo bar cart.
Where do you get high-qualtiy bamboo kitchenware? You can find high-end bamboo products at stores, including Crate and Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Linens ‘N Things, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Bloomingdales. Or you can choose your favorite Web sites and start ordering.
Most online companies offer free shipping. Here is a tantalizing sample to get you started fitting your kitchen out with the “wood of the millennium.”
A grass that grows to a harvestable height of 60 feet in about three to five years, bamboo can grow as much as two feet per day. It has an extensive root system that continually sends up new shoots, naturally replenishing itself. It does not require replanting, making it one of the most renewable resources known. It is one of the earth’s fastest growing plants. Bamboo grows without fertilizers or pesticides and is harvested from controlled stands. It’s the wood of the future.
“It takes more than vegetables to make your kitchen green,” said Tom Sullivan, president of Totally Bamboo, a Southern California company known for creating unique cutting boards, rolling carts and, now, kitchen countertops. Sullivan said Totally Bamboo plans to change the way the world uses bamboo, as a viable alternative to our precious hardwood trees. “Bamboo holds the promise of a sustainable, cost effective and ecologically responsible alternative to the widespread clear-cutting of our world’s precious timberland – becoming increasingly popular as the millennium’s new “wood.”
Sullivan said they only use a particular species of bamboo, “Moso,” where their products are manufactured in a plant in China in the mountains outside of Shanghai. “We use, ‘Moso’ timber bamboo because it is not a food source, or a habitat, for the Giant Panda,” Sullivan said. He said bamboo is harder and denser than most hard woods, and 16 percent harder than maple, which is the most common wood used for most cutting boards.
In a nook in the NoHo Arts District of North Hollywood, Calif., Sullivan and his wife, Joanne Chen, began a small design and manufacturing studio 20 years ago, focusing on luxury, customized, director chairs for the movie industry. In their quest for a lighter chair, they experimented with bamboo, long known for its strength versus weight ratio. Sullivan said the resulting chair was not only lighter but much stronger than the oak they had previously used. Shortly afterwards, Totally Bamboo was born, launching a line of exclusively bamboo houseware products, from cutting boards and rolling carts, to salad bowls and plates. Sullivan said they single-handedly designed 233 unique products, with an average of 10 new products every month. Their newest venture is countertops.
“We went nuts in Japan when we found railroad ties made out of bamboo,” he said. “We brought them home and used them for our first designs.”
Sullivan also stressed that all of their bamboo products are glued together with a special formaldeyde-free adhesive, developed for food service in Japan.
In 2004, the World Health Organization (WHO) re-designated formaldehyde-based glue as a proven human carcinogen. Formaldehyde glue is commonly used in the plywood and particle board manufacturing process, because of its cheap cost and fast set-up time.
Sullivan said the huge disadvantage to the consumer is that it continues to “off gas” dangerous fumes for years. But in 2010, California will ban the manufacture or import of any products made with formaldehyde – the toughest consumer law with respect to formaldehyde ever adopted in the country. Since Totally Bamboo’s products are already formaldehyde-free, they won’t have to change their manufacturing process or raise their prices.
Naturally, Sullivan warns against the temptation to purchase cheap bamboo products currently flooding the market and sold at the large discount stores. These are made with the cheaper, formaldehyde-based adhesives.
“Any discerning gourmet person will know the difference,” he said. “Our products are not to be mistaken for cheap Tiki bars by any means. These carts are not made from bamboo tubes, but high-quality, thin layers of laminated bamboo pressed together to form planks similar to the new flooring that has been all the rage for the last few years.”
In a testament to the increasing acceptance of bamboo as a standard material for kitchenware, Sullivan said their corporate commissions include developing a cutting board for GE for one of their stoves; a cutting board built into a sink for Kohler kitchens; kitchen products for Royal Prestige kitchen line, exclusive products for William’s Sonoma, Crate and Barrel and Linens ‘N Things. “We have done work for Emeril (Lagasse),” he said. Check out their products online at Totallybamboo.com.
Bamboo Hardwoods was founded over ten years ago by Douglas Lewis. Doug realized that bamboo holds the promise of a sustainable, cost effective, and ecologically benign alternative to the widespread clear-cutting of our old growth forests. It was in this spirit that Doug spent four years in Vietnam engineering a modern factory capable of producing a wide variety of bamboo products.
Today, Bamboo Hardwoods is a leader in the burgeoning industry of bamboo products, including their innovative bamboo flooring, countertops, custom cabinets and furniture made with more than 30 different varieties of bamboo. They also make dining chairs, reproductions of 18th century French beds and entire houses in Hawaii. They offer a complete selection of gift items including bamboo trays, vases, tea sets in the $12 to $100 range and even a cute pen holder with the company logo for $3.50. “With a growing demand for pure bamboo products, Bamboo Hardwoods is more committed than ever with providing the highest quality flooring, custom cabinetry, plywoods, poles and garden furniture made from real bamboo,” said Chris Alfstad, a company spokesman. Their products can be ordered online at http://www.bamboohardwoods.com.
Bambu advertises itself as a “renewable ideas company.” According to their Web site, they are recognized as an innovative leader in the “Green Revolution”. They offer many viable alternatives to traditional kitchen materials, including dinnerware and cutting boards. Bambu has joined in alliance with One Percent for the Planet, where they pledge at least one percent of net sales to the preservation and restoration of the environment. They have also earned the Co-Op America seal of approval for “recognition of the commitments Bambu has made toward fair treatment of workers, promoting healthy communities, preserving the environment and providing quality products.” Bambu offers an entire line of economical cutting boards, plates, bowls, trays, baskets, utensils and cutlery. You can order online at http://www.bambuhome.com.
Highly endorsed online by leaders of the “Green Revolution” and U.S. “treehuggers” Ekobo’s bamboo kitchen accessories was launched earlier this year and becoming available and various incarnations of their product lines are slowly becoming available stateside, at places like Target, Illico Design, and, most recently, at Lekker Home. Aesthetically, the products are both unique and classically designed and (our favorite part) made from bamboo. As before, the products are still available many places in Europe. According to their Web site, Ekobo is recognized as an environmental leader, and committed to both guaranteeing good working conditions for the artisans in Vietnam who make their products.
Disposable Bambu Veneerware plates are available online through Joanne Hudson, an outlet for many types of kitchen ware. They offer a complete line of lightweight, disposable bamboo dinnerware perfect for parties and catering. They can be used for indoor or outdoor dining and are recyclable or reusable, offering a new, green alternative to plastic or paper. According to their Web site, the dinnerware is environmentally friendly and provide a sleek alternative to boring, less sophisticated disposables. Made of 100 percent organically grown bamboo, these plates fully biodegradable in four to six months and contain no bleaches or dyes. Find their products at http://www.joannehudson.com.
The bamboo revolution doesn’t just end with kitchenware and housewares. Sullivan said their next projects will involve pressed bamboo to be made into water-proof decking. Additionally, he said Hollywood Chairs now offers about 10 styles of custom-made bamboo directors chairs starting at about $250 “John Travolta has six chairs, and others owners are James Cameron and Stephen Speilberg,” He said. “More important, they are not a sling, but a hard cushion on a plywood with a reinforced backrest. It is a chair made for people sitting there for 14 hours a day.” Sullivan said Jerry Seinfeld told him, “If I had this good a chair, I wouldn’t have canceled my program.”
So, set the trend and outfit your kitchen, patio and even your entire home with clean, healthy and sustainable bamboo.