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Bridge2Bamboo

Imagineer and Bridge Artistic Director Orit Azaz are developing an ambitious new public art project for 2022. Bridge2Bamboo (working title) builds on the themes of bridging divides and connecting across difference.

Inspired by the bridge kits created in 2019 – which invited people to build a self-supporting bridge, inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci’s design - we wanted to go further. 

Could we invite people to design and build similar freestanding outdoor structures that could then combine to create one giant installation? 

As part of our research, we met Neil Thomas, co-director of distinctive structural engineering company Atelier One, who explained the importance of bamboo in relation to sustainability and the climate crisis. 

Bamboo grows across the globe, including in the UK and Europe, and is widely held by a growing network of engineers, architects and activists to be ‘the future sustainable building material for the planet’ – we were excited by the potential to collaborate with people from across the world to exchange skills and ideas and create beautiful strong lightweight structures at a variety of scales. 

With support from Arts Council England, Birmingham 2022 and the British Council, Imagineer is now working with partners across the globe as we research and develop Bridge2Bamboo.

 

Bamboo Creative Exchange Lab

In May 2021, artists, architects, engineers and green entrepreneurs from the UK, Bali, India and Ghana came together for a Bamboo Creative Exchange Lab, led by Bridge2Bamboo artistic director Orit Azaz. 

Working remotely, we exchanged ideas and experiences about designing, making and building with bamboo. We explored the tensions involved in developing bamboo as a sustainable building material for the planet. 

Our thanks to Lab partners Bamboo URhizomeGhana Bamboo Bikes and Atelier One for sharing their expertise in bamboo design and build.

 

Pilot Community Projects

Imagineer is working with artists, partners and residents in Bourne, Redcar, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Coventry and Birmingham to explore the creative possibilities of bamboo grown in UK and Europe. Groups are involved in design and model-making, 3D sketching and crafting, all using bamboo.

The Monday Night Makers group at Imagineer's Daimler Powerhouse worked with sculptor Lucy Tomlins to explore the properties and design potential of UK-grown bamboo.

Monday Night Makers explore Bamboo in Coventry
Monday Night Makers explore bamboo possibilities at the Daimler Powerhouse, Coventry

Community groups in Redcar, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool worked with artist Pete Gunson to explore what's possible with UK-grown bamboo. This beautiful structure was created for Redcar's Festival of Thrift.

Testing out structures at the Festival of Thrift, Redcar
Testing structures at the Festival of Thrift, Redcar

Artist Ling Tan is working with 15 local people and the staff of Winterbourne House and Garden, University of Birmingham, to propogate and nurture bamboo. They are monitoring their progress on a web-based platform, taking root.herokuapp.com

Exploring bamboo at Winterbourne House, University of Birmingham
Propogating bamboo at Winterbourne House, University of Birmingham

In Bourne, South Kesteven, members of the Don't Lose Hope community garden worked with artist Lou Jones to explore the use of bamboo as a sculptural material.

Bamboo workshop at the Don't Lose Hope garden, Bourne
Testing bamboo at the Don't Lose Hope garden, Bourne

Our thanks to partners South Kesteven District CouncilFestival of ThriftAppetite and Winterbourne House and Garden at the University of Birmingham. Also thanks to artists Lou Jones, Pete Gunson, Kim Mountford, Lucy Tomlins and Ling Tan.

 

What’s Next?

Our R&D work culminates in Autumn 2021, when we will begin to craft a new creative concept for Bridge2Bamboo. The resulting ambitious public art project will be made public in 2022 – watch this space.

Download our Bridge2Bamboo exhibition pack to find out more.

 

Bridge2Bamboo R&D has been commissioned as part of the Birmingham 2022 Cultural Programme in partnership with our International Research & Development Funder, The British Council. It is supported by Arts Council England.