Bamboo groves have long been an emblem of the Vietnamese countryside being closely associated with Vietnamese people’s life. In Vietnamese culture, bamboo trees symbolize the vitality, which can resist against strong wind and storm. The image of bamboo trees also appears in a legend about Saint Giong who used bamboo trees to fight invaders to protect the country. Everyday items, such as baskets, chopsticks, fans and many other things are made from bamboo. These days, the exports of bamboo handicrafts have brought in a revenue of millions of USD annually. Bamboo products have become more popular in and even beyond Vietnam and they have helped many villages escape poverty. Nguyen Thanh Phong, a resident in Hanoi says: “Bamboo products have become more popular and beautiful. I have built a new house and I selected bamboo to make flooring, stairs or partition and wall decorations because of their reasonable price and that they make my house more beautiful and unique”.
Several architectural sites using bamboo have received international awards. Vo Trong Nghia’s Wind and Water Café Dome made of almost all natural materials won the Gold medal at the Asian Architect Association’s Competition 2007-2008. This project also won Nghia the International Architecture Award in 2009. With a simple design, Nghia successfully incorporated bamboo trees to shape and decorate the dome. The new bar is an entirely ecological building, constructed without altering any of the natural surroundings whatsoever. Bui Thanh Luong, from Wind and Water Joint Stock Company says: “This is a unique architectural structure. I have worked for the tourism sector for 16 years and visited many hotels in the world, but I have never seen such a unique structure. Most of architectural structures in the world are made of cement or wood, but this one is mostly made of bamboo. I like it very much because bamboo represents the people and nation of Vietnam”.
Vo Trong Nghia’s design uses natural ventilation and cool fresh water from the artificial lake to add to the many eco-friendly features this dome has to offer. The tables, chairs, plates and lanterns in the café are also made of bamboo enhancing the uniqueness for the café. “Bamboo is a distinct material and is difficult to use to make big structures. However, once you overcome that difficulty, the structure will become unique and more beautiful than those made of cement or steel. Bamboo enhances aesthetics as bamboo trees can be bended naturally and beautifully”, said Nghia.
Bamboo is considered to be one of the ideal materials for the 21st century because it is environmentally friendly. Bamboo has been widely used in many construction and decorations projects in many countries. In Vietnam, bamboo is a natural resource material and the incorporation of bamboo in architectural projects has proven the skills and sense of aesthetics of the Vietnamese people.