Bamboo Space Frame model under parametric analysis: Simulations of exaggerated load scenarios give an instant view of the weakest parts of the structure. (Note red members under compression and blue under tensile stress) Resulting axial forces are indicated on all bamboo poles.

Finally, the architect can master most of the structural engineering secrets, and optimize the design for economy and slender sections, fully aware of the strength limits of bamboo. Check out Rhino+Grasshopper+Karamba and the "Lego-style" programming.

Rhinoceros v5,6, or 7 is CAD software developed by Robert McNeel, USA. ( Grasshopper is a parametric plug-in for Rhino, also developed by McNeel. This interface shows a graphic representation of programming functions and the numeric variables/parameters are fed into visual boxes. The connections between these components are symbolized by wires plugged into the relevant placeholders. The logics can be traced by colors, for example the wrong data type will show a red alert and an explanatory flag. Intuitively, this additive programming seems much like playing with plastic Lego parts and should fit architects’ way of solving problems.

Karamba, by Clemens Preisinger, Vienna ( is a structural modeling toolbox which turns Grasshopper lines into beams/trusses and surfaces/meshes into shells. Karamba allows for detailed definitions of element dimensions, load case scenarios (weight, wind, earth quake etc), position of supports and material strength properties. Here is where Karamba could become useful for bamboo structural design and analysis of behavior under stress. Most structural engineers are not comfortable dealing with bamboo as the strength parameters are not known enough.

A regular truck hydraulic jack, a pressure gauge and a few planks....

To circumvent this problem a simple construction-site testing tool could establish sufficient capacity of a particular bamboo pole to be part of a critical construction, like in a roof truss.