A Bamboo Open House

We're excited to invite you to the public debut of a project we've been quietly working on over the past months: an experimental bamboo structure in a Lower East Side garden - a prototype for the next phase of our collaboration with builders in Haiti.

Bamboo is incredible. The variety we've been experimenting with – Guadua – has the tensile strength of steel and can grow up to 100 feet tall in six months, the fastest growing plant in the world. Its potential as a cheap, renewable, seismically-resistant building material is enormous. In Haiti, as with many places in the tropics, bamboo represents the cutting edge in people's strategies for reforesting land and building homes from local renewable resources.

This year, Heliotrope's Creative Director Bryan Ortega-Welch has been exploring bamboo construction methodologies in South America. His research has culminated in the construction of an experimental structure out of Guadua here in NYC – designed and built in collaboration with architect Joana Torres, artist/educator Megan Kindsfather, and a group of young women from the Lower Eastside Girls Club. The structure is a threshold: an entranceway to a community garden, intended to bring new life to the space, to introduce NYC to this unique material, and to be the first of several architectural experimentations with bamboo on the site. These prototypes will inform our next phase of work in Komye, Haiti, where we've been building homes made from natural materials since the 2010 earthquake.

The design and build process behind this structure creates a bridge between young aspiring female designers (ages 14-16) here in NYC, and the youth of Komye, Haiti, who will play an instrumental role in our next building project there.

Phase I of the structure (the foundation and roof trusses) will be completed on Saturday the 19th of this month, and we'd like to invite you to join us at 1 PM for a brief celebration and open house, as we introduce what will be the first Guadua structure in NYC to the world. Hope to see you there!


The Heliotrope Foundation

19 December 2015, 1PM
The First Street Garden
48 E 1st St., NYC

Here's a gallery of Bryan's shots of the design/build process: