Sustainable Bambooze shelter at the schuylkill center

Rebecca Popowsky and Riggs Skepnek designed the winning woodland Bambooze shelter as part of the Gimme Shelter showcase for the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, a 350-acre nature preserve in the Roxborough neighborhood of Philadelphia. The Gimme Shelter competition was meant to build awareness of sustainability, encouraging collaboration between designers to promote inspiring new approaches to sustainable design and building techniques, and Popowsky and Skepnek’s design was chosen from more than 80 designs submitted by 65 teams from across the country and internationally, including Spain, Portugal, Korea and the UK. The Bambooze shelter is made using cost-effective and sustainable straw bale construction. Bales of locally produced straw were stacked and secured using bamboo stakes, which protrude out of the top of the straw bale walls to help support the roof structure, which is made of overlapping bamboo slats that slope down, directing rainwater toward a rain garden in front of the structure. A pattern of circular openings perforate the straw bale walls, made with a combination of recycled glass bottles and short bamboo shoots, creating varied and playful lighting effects within the structure. Vertical bamboo stocks “grow” through the reconstituted crushed concrete floor, to further support the roof.

All of the bamboo for the project was harvested by the Bambooze team with the support of local landowners and the Morris Arboretum.