Update 1 : Reciprocal bamboo frames as an alternative technology for roofing in Paraguay

Elena Vazquez Peña.

Architecture student at National University of Asunción, Paraguay.

Tutor: MSc. Ing. Luis Fernando Meyer.

Currently doing research as a part of a final project (thesis) on reciprocal frame architecture, specifically, on reciprocal roofs made out of bamboo.
This is part of an ongoing investigation for the thesis.

Elena has now built a prototype of the shelter based on her original plans.

Below are some photographs of the shelter with some comments by Elena:

1. Dimensions of the module:

Image 5_D

2. Thin steel wire was found to be easier to lash the bamboo poles together.

Image 1
Image 2

3. The module had problems with the lateral stability. Transportation was easy but, the problem was that it moved a lot from side-to-side. The solution adopted was to tie wire in form of an " X " as shown in this photo.

This worked very well, and I thought that it could also help when placing the textile or plastic canvas on top.

Image 6

4. The adaptation of the module for corrugated sheeting. An improved solution is this arrangement where sheets are overlapped.to produce a gap that can be used for ventilation if required.

Image 5_Adaptación chapas
Image 3

4. Then, another design came with the construction experience: It was the half module, that comes from raising one of the ends.

This could be a nice design to achieve intermediate spaces that are necessary with our climate.

Image 4

4. Finally, the module was easily transported and easily tied to anything. In Paraguyay we still have a lot of trees, so we tried to tie it up to a tree, and had a good and interesting result. (see photo)). The module can rest within a simple notch (or fork) in a tree.

All things considered, the module worked.
Although I still want to build the module adaptation for the metal sheet.

Editor comment:

Building the first prototype shelter module has shown some interesting
problems and solutions.

In this case steel wire was found to better grip the shiney surface of this type of bamboo, although it would still be possible to use twine or rope if preferred.

Strategic placement of a couple of diagonal bamboo trusses may also provide the required lateral stability instead of wires if preferred.
It must also be remembered that the CGI sheeting will also help to prevent lateral rotation when fixed to the frame.

I particularly like the "half module" as it offers solutions that can be used for emergency shelter ( and possibly with the 4 pole reciprcal frame roof).

Where trees are available it makes good sense to make use of them for this type of shelter.

Shaun Halbert

If you have any comments I will pass them on to Elena. Please contact me by email:

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