The Arc by IBUKU

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The Arc is the newest building on campus at the world-renowned Green School in Bali, Indonesia. It was designed by Ibuku & Atelier One and now in 2021 it’s being recognised globally for its innovative and sustainable design. The school has a 12 year history of breaking boundaries and expanding horizons and the Arc is the newest benchmark in that history, raising the bar for sustainable educational building design around the world.


The first building of its kind ever made, it is built from a series of intersecting 14 meter tall bamboo arches spanning 19 meters.
“The Arc at Green School Bali enters a new era for organic architecture, with its 19 meter span arches, interconnected by anticlastic gridshells. It is a new community wellness space and gymnasium for the extraordinary campus, in collaboration with Jorg Stamm and Atelier One.”
Elora Hardy, Creative Director, IBUKU
The first building of its kind ever made, it is built from a series of intersecting 14 meter tall bamboo arches spanning 19 meters.
The design utilises the bountiful natural supply of Asian bamboo to profit from its beneficial structural, decorative and recreational uses.
Elora Hardy, image by Alexander Berg
The Arc Gymnasium at Green School Bali
“The concepted structure for The Arc is totally unprecedented. Embarking on a design never before executed required some bravery and optimism. We were creative and stubborn enough to research and develop the answers needed for the success of the project”
Rowland Sauls, Project Architect, IBUKU

The Arc is a feat of engineering; it required months of research and development and fine tuning of many tailor-made details. The result is a very refined design with an immediate beauty, which stands as a testament to IBUKU’s commitment to expanding horizons in architecture and design.

The Arc employs one of nature’s greatest strategies for creating large spaces with minimal structure. Within a human ribcage, a series of ribs working in compression are held in place by a tensioned flexible layer of muscle and skin. This creates a thin but strong encasement for the lungs. In the case of The Arc, arches working in compression are held in place by tensioned anticlastic gridshells. These fields of gridshells appear to drape across the spaces between impossibly thin arches soaring overhead, giving a whimsy, intimacy and beauty to the space. Although, the gridshells appear to hang from the arches, they actually hold them up

“The gridshells use shape stiffness to form the roof enclosure and provide buckling resistance to the parabolic arches. The two systems together create an unique and highly efficient structure, able to flex under load allowing the structure to redistribute weight, easing localised forces on the arches,” explains Neil Thomas, Director of Atelier One.


The Arc is made from beautifully interconnected  anticlastic gridshells, which derive their strength from curving in two opposite directions. 
“The Arc operates like the ribs of a mammal's chest, stabilised by tensile membranes analogous to tendons and muscles between ribs. Biologically, these highly tensile microscopic tendons transfer forces from bone to bone. In The Arc, bamboo splits transfer forces from arch to arch. ”
Jörg Stamm, Design Conceptor Atelier One
The construction of Green School led to many innovations in bamboo architecture and engineering.
Joerg Stamm, a German builder who specialises in bamboo, was a key contributor to this process along with artist Aldo Landwehr. Together they were responsible for developing many of the design aesthetics and engineering concepts used by IBUKU today

IBUKU’s origins lie in the belief that bamboo can change how we build. Bamboo has had a long tradition as a building material in Bali. In the 1980s, the arrival of young designers from western countries took bamboo building to an exciting new level. Linda Garland pioneered this movement, attracting international attention with her innovative designs in houses and furniture. She pioneered new treatment methods to preserve the bamboo and prolong its life. Linda’s work also inspired her friend John Hardy, founder of Green School to take a greater interest in bamboo.

John quickly came to see bamboo as the future of sustainable building and made a vow never to construct another wood or concrete building. John’s first serious bamboo building was conceived with architect Cheong Yew Kuan in a rice field full of tall umbul-umbul flags. Inspired by the natural curve of the bamboo, they tied the tips of the poles together into a towering arch. This ultimately became Kapal Bambu, the ‘bamboo ship’ showroom at the John Hardy compound in Bali.

In late 2007 John gathered a team to design and build the Green School. The first structure at Green School was a bridge, connecting the two sides of the river valley campus. It still stands as an outstanding example of what is possible when architects, engineers, designers, and craftsmen come together to build in a new way.

Cynthia and John Hardy, Founders of Green School Bali
Aerial image of the Green School Bali showing the original buildings on the right and the new building on the left.
Sun shines over the drape effect bamboo roofline at The Arc, Green School Bali
“There is something quite wonderful about ancestral craftsmanship meeting modern construction techniques. To ensure maximum accuracy, the craftsmen worked within a three dimensional coordinate system which enabled a reliable adherence of the gridshells' curvatures to specific engineering requirements.”
Jules de Laage The Arc at Green School - Construction Manager & On Site Architect, IBUKU

Joerg Stamm, a German builder who specialises in bamboo, developed the concept of creating central basket-like towers to hold up larger buildings, as well as the ‘Lidi’ concept, giving IBUKU access to their signature curvilinear vocabulary.

In 2010 Elora Hardy, John’s daughter, returned to Bali to continue the evolution of bamboo design under the name IBUKU. Together she and her team of talented Indonesian designers and architects have built sixty new bamboo structures on the island of Bali. Nine of these buildings now make up Green Village, a community of luxurious private homes neighbouring Green School.

“What we are doing is reinventing the rules and standards of what a building can look like,” says Elora Hardy. “These buildings are a testament to the power of bamboo and the possibilities of sustainable architecture. IBUKU continues to expand the potential of building exceptional bamboo structures.”

Creating this building however, was not without its challenges according to the IBUKU team. “Design was around 6 months and construction was around 8 months,” Elora Hardy says.

“Given the unprecedented nature of the structure, there were a lot of unanswered questions in the beginning, so part of the brief was to research and develop until we had adequate information for Atelier One to complete their engineering work. Through multiple rounds of structural testing and constant collaboration with them, we were able to predict that which was previously unpredictable. The process of applying high precision engineering to bamboo, a material with infinite variability, was long and challenging but well worth the results.”

At The Together Project we love the beauty and innovation of this design, its careful integration with its environment and use of natural, local materials.

Discover more at Green School Bali and Ibuku



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