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It can be argued either way: Bamboo is a building material that’s criminally underused in construction or one destined to remain a quirky, regional curio.
Long ignored beyond the developing world, bamboo (a grass, not a tree) has the compressive strength of concrete and the tensile strength of steel. Unlike those materials, it sequesters carbon as it grows instead of emitting it while it’s made. It replenishes rapidly, shooting up by as much as three feet per week. It’s hollow and lightweight. “There’s no wood that can compete with that,” says Joana Gomes of the Mexican architecture firm CO-LAB, which recently designed Luum Temple, a bamboo pavilion in Tulum, Mexico.