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World's largest all-bamboo factory goes online in Bali


December 7, 2011

The facade of Big Tree Farm's all-bamboo chocolate factory

The facade of Big Tree Farm's all-bamboo chocolate factory

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We've seen cutting boards, bicycles, floors, even houses made of bamboo, but an organic chocolate factory? Evidently, when Ben Ripple and Frederick Schilling, the two co-CEOs of specialty food company Big Tree Farms (BTF) talked about sustainably building their new plant, they put their money where their mouths are. Now, the Indonesian island of Bali is home to what BTF claims is the largest all-bamboo commercial building ever constructed, and soon, it'll be cranking out tasty chocolate bars by the thousands.

"Bamboo is definitely regarded as one of the most sustainable building materials in the world," said Schilling. "What we've done here is created this very, very practical building using bamboo with, obviously, sustainability at the core purpose, but at the same time, we were able to create a very aesthetically beautiful building."

If you've traveled anywhere in Asia, you've likely seen skyscrapers and other tall structures surrounded by bamboo scaffolding. Indeed, bamboo has been a vitally important building material for thousands of years, and for good reason. Not only does it grow quickly - some species can sprout close to a meter (39 inches) in a 24-hour period - but it also rivals the tensile and compressive strengths of mild steel and certain concrete mixtures respectively. Technically a grass, some of the largest timber species can grow to over 98 feet (30 m) in height and reach 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) in diameter.

As amazing as it is structurally, bamboo still has a few limitations that need to be addressed before it can be used in open construction. Savvy builders now know to treat the wood with both borax (fire retardant) and boric acid (insecticide), to help protect the occupants and keep termites and other wood-boring pests at bay. A majority of the interior walls, made from woven bamboo strips, were also sealed with a food-grade coating to satisfy local building code requirements.

BTF's intention is for its traditionally-styled new 26,500 square foot (2,460 square meter) structure to be a "beans to bar" processing plant that will take the organic cacao from thousands of regional farmers and blend it with locally-harvested coconut-palm sugar to create a truly sustainable (and presumably delicious) new line of chocolates. How sweet is that?

Source: WAN

About the Author
Randolph Jonsson A native San Franciscan, Randolph attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland before finding his way to the film business. Eventually, he landed a job at George Lucas' Industrial Light + Magic, where he worked on many top-grossing films in both the camera and computer graphics departments. A proud member of MENSA, he's passionate about technology, optimal health, photography, marine biology, writing, world travel and the occasional, well-crafted gin and tonic! All articles by Randolph Jonsson

What a magnificently cool and pleasant building this would be to work in!!

And that cathedral-like structure.

Modular, cut-to-fixed-length poles, could they be used as fast build low cost housing?


What about protection from high speed winds and storms, rain hailstorm ?

Also I think issues can crop up regarding heating/ cooling needs for the occupants .

Wonderful idea though. Time has come we just abandon some of the major technologies we have been using for centuries, and usher in ground breakign technologies and materials

The problem with the world is that we don\'t question how some things came to the state they are in . Buldings are the worlds most inefficient users of energy , and they need a revolution in design, conceptualisation and construction

Welcome though !

Atul Malhotra

I have bamboo flooring in room I created out of closed sleeping. It looks beautiful but does not wear very well, no were near as well as oak.

Page Schorer

Chicken soup for the soul. Chocolate for the spirit.

Dawar Saify
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