Isir. Loïc Chillard, the architect fighting to transform bamboo into the new green steel
“My main practice is to renovate using natural materials such as rammed earth, wood and bamboo, whose sturdiness is only matched by their environmental benefit.”
DPLG engineer in Vienna, his native country, Loïc Chaylard, with twenty years of experience behind him, is today such a tireless advocate of bamboo that he has made his home and office, a stone’s throw from the antique theatre, a showcase for this woody plant that looks like wood but actually Four times stronger. It is impossible not to notice this. Last summer, he installed a flowered gazebo overlooking the neighborhood. “It is better to talk about balcony planters. In France, today, standards do not allow the manufacture of bamboo structures, unless they can be dismantled, as is the case here. In addition to the very positive visual effect, you can plant them,” Loic emphasizes. Its bamboo projection also has space for drinking coffee.
To improve his knowledge of bamboo, the Viennese architect, who also ventured into design and small furniture, followed a one-year training course at the end of which he completed a course in sustainable and environmental development. Nowadays, if he sees his workshop as a kind of experimental center, he is also accumulating knowledge gained by working alongside professionals who already use bamboo, or who produce it, or even within the European Bamboo Industry Association.
An already well-established economy
We know of the bamboo grove in Anduz (where the houses were built), but there are several companies in France that already work with this material, as well as a specialized center near Limoges where bamboo is being studied as a new outlet for its exploitation. “This bamboo economy is already well established in Asia of course, but also in the USA, Africa and South America according to ISO standards. Not to mention, we can do it with advanced technology!” Near Toulouse, the Cobratex Group manufactures aircraft noses from bamboo composite materials.
Building on the results of this emerging economy – today we even talk about green steel – Loïc Chaylard wants to continue on this path by now specializing in the construction of equipment that we know is approved in France: Chapiteaux, frames, stands, terrace planters, parking shelters, Scaffolding, etc.
The Viennese architect and designer also hopes to see a development in regulations and certifications that will allow the construction of long-lasting buildings in France that, as in other countries in the world, can accommodate the public, especially since bamboo is also an excellent thermal conductor.
Bamboo: Its density is equivalent to that of oak
One of the definite advantages of bamboo is that it reproduces easily (the downside is that it becomes invasive if its growth is not controlled). However, it can be produced almost anywhere and its resources never run dry. As such, Loïc Chillard is thinking of growing it, while controlling it of course, to avoid its dispersal. “Bamboo arrived in France in the 1870s, but in reality only two main types can be used in construction,” he explains.
It is thermally conductive, extremely durable (its density is equivalent to that of oak and its tensile strength is greater than even structural steel fibres), it can be used in cladding to meet fire-fighting standards, and bamboo also has environmental virtues. “It is a plant that conserves banks, purifies the soil and has a very low carbon footprint,” sums up Mr Shellard. In fact, bamboo reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the air more than other species, while releasing more oxygen into the atmosphere. Thus, they fix up to 12 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare per year, compared to only three tons for deciduous trees.