Renewable Houses SA

Bamboo Planting, Bamboo Forest Management and Removal

RHSA offers support to anyone interested in growing, harvesting, and managing bamboo safely and sustainably. Common applications for planting include soil erosion control, property boundary edging, and phytoremediation of mines and dumps. As there are many uses across the bamboo species, we can offer professional advice to landscapers and  growers of bamboo.

Bamboo Design & Fabrication

Over and above our standardized bamboo products, we offer bespoke design and build services for the most popular uses of bamboo, including ceilings, pergolas, screens, and cladding.

Currently, we are limited to non-structural applications. However, we are in the process of developing protocols and production lines for construction-grade bamboo based on the latest international ISO standards (ISO 22156:2021 and ISO 19624:2018).

All of our bamboo is grown in South Africa and treated against insects and fungus using boric acid and borax solution.  

Bamboo Skills Development Workshops

RHSA offers a skills development workshop consisting of a theoretical and practical component. Over several days, participants will learn about the bamboo plant as well as get hands-on with bamboo application in propagation, harvesting, craft, and construction.

Architectural Consultants

RHSA Architecture is a SACAP registered professional Architectural service for any type of building project. Our professional team is capable of providing full or partial Architectural services as per the SAIA and SACAP guidelines.

We specialize in designing with timber and compressed stabilized earth blocks (CSEB), in addition to mainstream materials and components.

Once we establish the necessary protocols and grading procedures (based on International ISO standards) at our production sites, we will be able to begin specializing in bamboo design for sustainable habitable structures.

  • A Client’s guide to working with a SAIA Architect can be found here.
  • SACAP Client-Architect Agreement (project contract) can be found here.
  • The Government gazetted Professional fees guideline can be found here.

F.A.Q.

Yes, most of it. Bamboo is a versatile material and has many building applications. However it is not a silver bullet, and care needs to be taken to protect bamboo from water, particularly at the base of a structure. As such, we recommend using bamboo for frame structures, roofing, screening and cladding. Check out our construction guide for ideas and techniques.

Also in colder areas where thermal mass is critical, wall construction should ideally be from a high density material which can store and radiate heat for long periods of time. 

Only if you plant an invasive running species. If you want bamboo, make sure you are planting a clumping species, which has a rhizomic (root) structure which does not spread indiscriminately. Please call us if you need advice on species and propagation. Or, check out our growing guide for extra tips.

Sadly, with immense difficulty. This is because underground rhizomes (roots) can travel up to 30m from the previous growth cluster, making it very difficult to see the extent of the spread, and also to remove the plant. Check out our growing guide for extra tips!

Absolutely yes. Earth building is one of the oldest building traditions of human-kind. Earth buildings perform exceptionally well thermally, and can last 100s of years if built correctly. There are numerous techniques for building with earth, the most popular being: Rammed earth, Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB), earth-bag building and wattle and daub. Each technique has its pros and cons. Interestingly, it is possible to build sound, long lasting structures like arches, vaults and domes, from CSEB. Similarly, sand-bag construction is suited for domed structures. 

Earth building is a resource and labour intensive material to work with, the costs of labour generally being worth more than the raw material itself. The process of building with earth demands an in-depth analysis of the soil type to be used, which will help determine which earth-building technique is best suited. Also, quarrying the material needs to be considered within the greater context, and integrated into water management systems, or landscaping. We do not advocate the indiscriminate mining of soil as this results in unnecessary environmental degradation.

Our latest CSEB building is Albini church in Ntshongweni, KwaZulu Natal. RHSA were the CSEB consultants on this heritage project, which saw the tripling the capacity of an old stone church.

 Albini Church CSEB  

Yes and no. Logistics (driving from A-B), mass production (replication) and automation determine the price of a thing. Skilled labour is also a big cost factor. It is usually best to pick your technology and materials based on what is available locally.

“Alternative” materials can only be cheaper if the material processing is part of a larger co-originated scheme. Growing the material where you plan to use it results in a logistical cost saving. We specialize in setting up bamboo growing and treatment facilities.

Similarly, “mining” a nearby site for earth or stone needs to be done in a responsible manner. We offer a spatial and resource management focused master planning service which maps out project developments (landscaping, building, services) over a period of time. 

Definitely not, unless you are an artisan or builder already, then maybe.

We are based in Durban KwaZulu Natal, and we work mainly in the greater eThekwini and Msundizi areas, as well as the North and South coasts of KZN.