I can build a disappearing house. Well, sort of. Let me explain; I took an activity called Nature as a Second Language at camp, and one of our lessons focused on building an efficient shelter in case we happened to be hopelessly wandering through the wilderness. It was essentially one log propped up perpendicularly against a fallen log. We then lined it with smaller twigs and then dumped leaves on top of it, effectively making an awkward, yet strangely inviting, triangular lump. Built from nature, it would eventually blow over and return to its natural state once we were done with it.
I remembered this particular exercise after reading about Elora Hardy, an American businesswoman living in Bali, her childhood home. The daughter of John Hardy, a jewelry designer turned ecofriendly school builder in Bali, Elora Hardy initially worked as a textile designer for Donna Karan New York (DKNY). Following the opening of her father’s Green School in 2008, however, she left New York to return to Bali. There she worked closely with her father, maintaining the trend of bamboo construction he had used with the Green School. She now runs the company Ibuku, which builds luxury homes out of bamboo.
The notion of building homes out of bamboo struck me as incredibly innovative. Elora notes, “Treated bamboo lasts for decades, but when not needed anymore, these houses—all but the plumbing—will just disappear back into the jungle.” Ibuku has now expanded the area around the Green School into a bamboo-based village known as Green Village. It includes a fitness center, café, and seven homes. The school itself is 100% solar powered and was a finalist for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. It even boasts a bamboo and glass ATM machine.
So, perhaps we won’t all have the opportunity to travel to an Indonesian country and create a sustainable haven, but I think the takeaway from the work of Elora Hardy is that sustainability, for many people, is a global focus. And who knows? Maybe Duke will decide to build a new wing of classrooms built entirely of bamboo. Well, I can hope.