“Free the Bears” Gets a New Store Made out of Bamboo

Free the bears

Atelier COLE designs an innovative fundraising merchandise store for Free the Bears in Laos with the help of our most excellent partners Building Trust. Following the construction of several built projects in South East Asia using natural materials and seeing the growing interest and response in sustainable design and natural materials such as bamboo. Building Trust organised a Design + Build workshop to be held at Kuang Si Falls on the outskirts of Luang Prabang with Free the Bears. Working alongside Atelier COLE, a new merchandise store was designed and built which educates both workshop participants and the high volume of annual tourist visitors to the Tat Kuang Si Park on building with bamboo. Free the Bears work tirelessly to combat the illegal trade in live bears and provide a safe sanctuary for any rescued bears at Tat Kuang Si Rescue Centre. Most of the bears at the centre are Asiatic Black Bears (Moon Bears) that were illegally captured from the wild as young cubs. It is likely that they were destined for use in the traditional medicine trade. The merchandise store will enable Free the Bears to sell items such as T-shirts, in order to receive much-needed donations to allow them to continue their ongoing efforts to protect bears in Laos and beyond.

Free the Bears

Bamboo Trees in construction © Building Trust international

Free the Bears

The fluted fountain like canopies protects the deck area by catching rain water and passing it through the gravel filled, hollow, circular foundation footings. As with all Building Trust projects the Bamboo Trees project worked closely with the local community who, in this case, were Khmu. They assisted in sharing local skills such as bamboo, rattan weaving and palm thatching which were later used to develop the roof of the structure.

Free the bears

The roof canopy is constructed through weaving palm thatch into bamboo. © Building Trust international

Free the bears

Canopy designed by Atelier COLE, constructed by Building Trust. © Building Trust international

Figuring Out How to Use The BambooThis was not about wrapping a steel structure in bamboo or squeezing pieces of bamboo together to use like timber. We wanted to explore the tensile properties of the material to bend it and use it in a way that compliments its structural characteristics. We did not stray far from how the plant grows and how it has been used for centuries in basketry and weaving by the local people who were instrumental in the design and construction.David Cole, Principal, Atelier COLE See More Articles Featuring Building Trust:

Free the Bears

Elevation. Image courtesy of Atelier COLE

Neo-Gothic Architecture in Laos The bamboo is complemented by a rope (around 10 kilometres) that spirals around the structure, weaving each piece together and creating strength from the whole. The resulting tensegrity structures lean against each other in a tripartite vault.
Free the bears

Bamboo Trees Merchandise store for Free the Bears. © Building Trust international

… in a way you could say this is one of the only examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in Laos. It is certainly the only building which uses the very common building material of bamboo in this way.” David Cole, Principal, Atelier COLE How Atelier COLE and Building Trust Are Working Alongside Conservation Groups Nearly all homes in rural Laos use bamboo in some form in their construction be it as flooring, structure, walls, roofing or all of the above. Bamboo Trees celebrates this versatile material and shows that traditional can be modern. Atelier COLE and Building Trust are working alongside conservation groups in South East Asia, Africa and South America to not only deliver alternative more sustainable buildings but also to use the building process as a tool to introduce new techniques and revitalise traditional skills.
Free the bears

Bamboo tree. © Building Trust international

Free the bears

Local community helps out on site to create the bamboo structure. © Building Trust international

Editors Notes About Atelier COLE Atelier COLE is an architecture and design practice. Established in 2010 their work includes low cost residential, public art, public projects and master planning. They are led by the idea that sustainable design is about doing more with less and that designers should be catalysts, working alongside clients for better solutions rather than sole providers of design solutions. This ultimately creates more holistic results that have the opportunity to go beyond the conventional boundaries of a building or single project. About Building Trust International Building Trust International is a non-profit organisation offering design assistance to communities and individuals in need. Building Trust International assesses areas in need, finds sustainable, economical aid solutions and ultimately provides buildings and infrastructure. These core actions have blossomed into advocating and educating on the principles of socially aware design, providing an accessible resource on humanitarian design projects and providing a structure for the crossover of information between design professionals. Building Trust International is a charity registered in England and Wales (1142338).

About Free the Bears

Since 1995 Free the Bears has provided support to a wide range of projects across the globe; from the rehabilitation of orphaned bear cubs in the Russian Far East to surveying wild Spectacled bears in Ecuador. As Free, the Bears has grown we have focused more intensely on the Sun bears and Asiatic black bears of South-east Asia and the Sloth bears of India. By creating partnerships that are tailored to each individual country and situation we have been able to support a wide range of projects in six priority countries; Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Issued by Atelier COLE, 11th May 2015 For further information please contact: Louise Cole, Design Director, Atelier COLE Photos: © Building Trust international Return to Homepage

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