Bamboo Shelter Project


Project Goals

The Bamboo Shelter project aims to directly respond to its physical environment with a poetic clarity, doing so in an environmentally sustainable way. It is a physical simulation of a dwelling in Northern Thailand’s Akha tribe; one of the many highland tribes of South-East Asia. By choosing to use an organic material that grows from the earth and to use it to shape the built environment, one constructs and inhabits space in the most primeval of ways. The plant has the capacity to sequester 21.41 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare per year, and grows to full structural capacity within the span of three years.

The Bamboo Shelter will undergo a series of evolutions in the following months to directly respond to changes in the weather in relation to one’s body’s comfort levels. The evolutionary process will be documented and post-analysed by Henry as part of his thesis investigation into the poetics of space and the thinking processes behind architecture today.

Bamboo Shelter will be restricted by the capabilities of a typical family of four, thus the workforce will be restricted to Henry and his three generous volunteers (fellow Architecture students!).

Ultimately, the project will be fitted to be used as a chicken coop by Green Gate Farms and simultaneously serve as an educational space for children.


The Bamboo Shelter project will be designed and built by Henry Wen, a fifth-year Bachelor of Architecture student at the University of Texas at Austin. This is part of his ongoing thesis investigation titled, “Impermanence: Ad hoc Bamboo Construction”. He is an international student from Taiwan and Australia, and has a keen interest into carbon and water footprints of the building industry. He was the lead Construction Manager for the University of Texas at Austin’s 2015 Solar Decathlon competition, building the 1000 square foot NexusHaus to place 4thoverall in the competition. He has also built outdoor shelter prototypes in Austin, as well as across the border in Tamaulipas, Mexico.


Construction will begin in 1 February 2016 and will finish at the end of May 2016. The first week will consist of site staging for tools and materials, as well as setting the foundation. The rest of the time will begin the evolutionary process of a bamboo shelter.