Ibuku creates innovative yoga studio with bamboo structure

Ibuku’s innovative bamboo structure makes yoga center idyllic in Bali

Bali-based architecture and design studio Ibuku reveals carefully designed alchemy yoga and meditation center in Indonesia, an artistic showcase of bamboo construction

Founded by designer Elora Hardy in 2010, Ibuku is fast becoming one of the most exciting architecture and design studios on the island of Bali, Indonesia. The practice’s approach of “pioneering a new design vocabulary” through the use of bamboo has placed it among the world leaders in construction and material innovation. After designing and building the Arc at the Green School earlier this year, brilliantly demonstrating his skills in this kind of sustainable architecture, Ibuku is now unveiling his latest bamboo structure, the all-new yoga and meditation center in alchemy in Ubud, southeast of Bali.

One of Indonesia’s main tourist hubs, attracting millions of travelers a year, Bali is known for its rich cultural heritage and diverse ecological and geographic landscapes. Ubud’s landscape of rice terraces (derived from the Balinese word “Ubad” meaning “medicine”) is central to the traditional production of arts and crafts on the island. The Alchemy Yoga and Meditation Center has a form carefully integrated into this Balinese landscape.

The bamboo structure makes the yoga center innovative and sustainable

Built on a smooth circular wooden foundation, the structure rests on sturdy boulders. There are nine of these pedestals, from which bamboo arches shoot out – and none are the same. They help define the roof structure, and in order to avoid weighing it down and ensure its stability, the Ibuku team arranged these arches in such a way as to limit overlap and distribute the load. It also creates a striking appearance, and “every arrangement you look at is like an arrangement of flowers,” says Hardy.

There was another painstaking process in order to select and match the color tones and diameters of the bamboo stems and cones. As all posts had to be handpicked for structural reasons, their color arrangement turned out to be a laborious task. The studio worked with local artisans, drawing on their expertise in sorting between shades of black and brown, to individually select each post forming the arches suited to the structure.

Meanwhile, the blond bamboo ceiling elements create a radiant rhythm where “the rafters are rows of rays of the sun, extending the pattern to illustrate the energy lines upwards as if they were subterranean suns”, explains Defit Wijaya, one of Ibuku’s main architects.

While the repeated structural elements allow for efficient construction, the studio nonetheless introduced playful asymmetries, aimed at balancing a design language that remains responsive to yoga practices and harmonious with the inner experience of the structure. One of the architects, Doni Nodly, explains: “By randomizing the orientations of the roof beams, we made an analogy to how bamboo tufts grow in nature. Accented by the circular shape of the floor, the biophilic design helps “the structure escape being a structure so that you can relax and be in nature.” This method of playing with juxtapositions of order and randomness gives rise to a variety of views: “There are nine perspectives with each frame and views offering a unique form. “

With the bamboo arches intersecting to support the roof, the shape of the roof is “entirely derived from the interior experience.” The exposed ceiling is pigmented and stained with bamboo mats in a rusty tone that reflects the copper roof above. The upper exterior skin of copper shingles is handcrafted, with highly skilled craftsmen shaping every bend angle and edge curves.

Rather than manipulating the bamboo, the studio emphasizes that “we want to follow the conversation with the material, to adapt to it”. The bamboo is sourced and harvested in Bali and neighboring islands, such as Java, and treated with a boron solution having a “level of toxicity just 1.5 times that of ordinary table salt”, explain the architects . Ibuku has a long history of collaborating with local artisans and the local education and research company Bamboo U, contributing to an innovative cultivation of new and future bamboo vernaculars. Its design methods and the efficiency of bamboo construction have enabled the studio to complete more than 200 such projects in the past decade alone.

The Yoga and Meditation Center, a partner of Alchemy Group, which first opened a vegan restaurant in Bali followed by a local holistic clinic for alternative treatments, is a fine example of Ibuku’s work. Architects and building owners are now preparing to officially launch the yoga center in 2022. §

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