Day 2: Bamboo Pod 3 Prototype

Day 2: Bamboo Pod 3 Prototype build at Mr Box, Ningbo.

30 June 2021

Day 1 (click here) started with retrieving the 16 mini sized arcs (with the wrong sized bamboo battens which were sent from the mountains yesterday- what a palaver). We are working on a 1:2 scale bamboo model. We noticed some off shaped ones so we re-measured them all. Plan had to change slightly accommodating the wrong size of bamboo battens as the hoops are mostly floppy!

We put up the temporary support: The centre column and three guy lines. We considered putting the 1:2 structure in between the existing planters so we can guy them up with additional guy on the concrete grill. This particular exercise is useful for the real size build, most definitely we will also need a temporary structure.

The bigger the diameter of the hoops, these non supported ones (from about #13 onwards) got really floppy and tended to twist. The team decided to proceed and added horizontal supports once all 16 hoops were in place.

The first layer of horizontal supports were up, then we continued with the next layers. In total we had 5 layers and the more we put the horizontal elements, the more stable the structure was. We removed the guy lines before adding the 5th layer, which was not planned. The joy of physical model making!

Then it was the acid test whether the structure will be self-supporting despite the wrong dimensions. We also learnt that probably 50mm would have been too wide for 1:2 scale, so not all mistakes went unreflected on. 20-25mm wide would have been a better size as the main structural system for this play tent for kids 🙂

Generally Matt and I are really happy with these two days. It was planned for three days, but some of the students had emergencies so we decided to start on Tuesday instead. The light rain on Tuesday morning presented a challenge, especially for Nancy whose flowing summer dress got wet every time she crouched down- which was a lot- but at least it kept things cool. It got quite hot in the afternoon. I enjoyed the experience as well, and knowing this project does not stop here gives me something to look forward too as a lecturer.

A few things we want to address for the final build are: the joints (zip ties are amazing for this kind of purpose but we rely too much on them: a more sustainable option such as hemp could be the better option),  the floor ideally needs to have a base, and the possibility to be flat packed with stretchy horizontal joints so they can be a movable pod would all be good adjustments.

Final Bamboo Pod 3: Rendering (credit: Group 1)

Our keen makers: Romance, Patricia, Francy, Serena, Nancy (Jianan Wang) and Joy (Qiaoyi Zeng)

Facilitators: Dr. Mia Tedjosaputro and Matt Wallwork

Thank you also goes to Neal (Fan Zeran), Wang Yin, Chenchu and Mr Box for making it possible.

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Day 1: Bamboo Pod 3 Prototype

Day 1: Bamboo Pod 3 Prototype build at Mr Box, Ningbo.

29 June 2021

The day started with the participants arriving from various parts of the city to participate in this extracurricular, unofficial project. Nancy and Joy- two preliminary year architecture students from the University of Nottingham- travelled with Matt (Academic English teacher at University of Nottingham Ningbo China) and Mia (part time lecturer in both universities, Ningbo University and Nottingham) and we met up with Francy, Patricia, and Romance (Ningbo University architecture students, in year 4) at Xin Yi Yuan tea house. The first order of business was to collect the bamboo from the new camping shop at Black Box café, who had kindly stored it since it was delivered early that morning.

Final Bamboo Pod 3: Rendering (credit: Group 1)

The bamboo pod design was part of Digital Architecture 2021 module in Ningbo University for Year 4 architecture students, it is developed and facilitated by Dr. Mia Tedjosaputro. The parametric design was generated by Group 1 as part of their Assignment 1 group submission, using Rhino 3D and Grasshopper. The team members are: Romance, Patricia and Houda. Due to the fact that most architecture students from NBU are still abroad due to the pandemic, only a handful number of students are in Ningbo and some of them joined this workshop.

Final Bamboo Pod 3: Rendering (credit: Group 1)
Bamboo Pod 3: Partial Design Statement (credit: Group 1)

After brief introductions, including the café’s resident friendly cat, the 1:25 scale model making began. The students were spilt into two groups with a nice mix of Ningbo Uni and Nottingham students, so there was great collaboration between the two universities from the outset.

The students worked well to overcome the minor problems that inevitably appear during any construction project and overall this was a very valuable learning experience. This whole exercise is a prelude to a full-scale build of the structure in September. We only explore the main structural system which comprises of 16 hoops, testing out before we build the full scale of bamboo structure.

After lunch we started to build the 1:2 scale prototype. We had to deal with what appear to be a quite disastrous material sourcing. The 60 pieces of bamboo battens we requested was 50mm, and what came was 5mm wide. Structural system is affected, but we have to adapt and improvise. Quite a number of tools and materials are no longer necessary as they were prepared for the correct width.

Mr Box was incredibly accommodating for this project. Ningbo city itself is a great hive of creativity, and academic and artistic projects are really encouraged here. It is truly gratifying to be able to arrange a space for a project of this scale so easily, and to be so well supported throughout the whole project. It is immeasurably valuable for students to be able to have this kind of hands-on building experience, and for artists to have space to express themselves in a space where they will get public exposure, so the general public of Ningbo can also benefit. Here are a glimpse of Mr Box area:

Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to Mr Box, and to the Black Box café and Xin Yi Xuan tea house for being so flexible and making this whole rich experience possible. It was particularly valued by the Ningbo University students, as morale is a bit low at the moment- many of their cohort are in their home countries, unable to return to China due to Covid restrictions, and those who are here- the ones who have called Ningbo their home for the past four years- are few in number and studying online. This hands-on, face to face, practical extracurricular project was especially precious to them, so again- many thanks to Mr Box for facilitating this!

On another note, we had a couple of major catastrophes with materials, which goes a long way towards our future planning. Quite an intriguing exercise on prototyping stage, as there is no pressure to get the pod 100% up and perfect. Mistakes are expected, shall we say. Especially with a more manageable scale, 1:2. Day 2 tomorrow, bring it on!

Our keen makers: Romance, Patricia, Francy, Serena, Nancy (Jianan Wang) and Joy (Qiaoyi Zeng)

Facilitators: Dr. Mia Tedjosaputro and Matt Wallwork

Thank you also goes to Neal (Fan Zeran), Wang Yin, Chenchu and Mr Box for making it possible.


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Eco-camping trips

S24O (bike and camp) mini adventure!

Matt and I are blessed to be living not far from the great outdoors of Ningbo. When regular couples will book the most romantic dinner in favourite places on Valentine’s Day, we wanted to avoid the crowd. We indulge ourselves by going camping quite often in different seasons- in particular, to places which can be reached by bikes. So here is the time when we left our expensive road bikes at home and took the touring bikes instead.

I was mesmerised by the bamboo weaving technique

Biking and camping are not a novel outdoorsy combination. This article illustrates how taking inspiration from nature has a great impact on how the KALA brand is shaped and is being developed. My great interest in natural materials as KALA’s design direction was a result of this too. The trip itself did not cost much as we cycled all the way there and carried our own gear and water.

Half way up the mountains and after the rain

Both Matt and I are not natural living zealots (nowhere near- we still carry plastic wrappers during our camping trips, for instance the crisps or baguette bag) but we also try to take small steps to reduce our less ideal consumption behaviour.

So we set off on Valentine’s Day (which was also our wedding anniversary) with two bikes. Matt carried most of the gear as usual (sleeping system and cooking gear) and I carried the tent and my camera in a special camera bag for bikes. The journey itself it was quite short, a mere 21km away with a 430+ metre climb. It turned to be a beautiful afternoon once we were done getting rained on. D’oh!

From the top of While Cloud Cliff, the most local range of mountains to home
Home to the campsite, a whopping 21km in total

We got to the campsite at 5pm, just enough time to set the tent up before it got dark. There is no road light (nor any light) around the campsite. We found the site a few years back, during one of those adventurous and ‘see where this road takes us to’ kind of moments, but it didn’t link to any other roads.

Tent was up in no time as the sun was setting

KALA’s own insulated cup made for good company, it keeps our hot beverage (necessary when it got cooler once the sun set) warmer for longer. Tip: You can find this product in KALA’s Weidian online shop.

KALA’s bamboo insulated cup, it comes with a handle too

Like most camping people, we like the idea of camp cooking. We did not have the luxury of a campfire however. To save taking a small chopping board and the whole onion on the bikes, I pre-chopped one and put it in the re-usable beeswax wrapper. It was one of KALA’s products too (will be back with the coolest batik patterns KALA designed). I reused a bread tie I have been collecting every time we buy bread. Completely zero waste, I get to wash the wrapper and re-use the bread tie again. Valentine’s day’s main menu was beef with creamy corn soup, with a baguette to share for dipping. Just humble comfort food.

KALA’s reusable beeswax wrapper- they will be back in stock soon with a new design
Onion wrapped in the beeswax wrapper
A handy tip for your bread ties, any door handles will do great to store them.

The sky was so clear that night and we got to see stars. We retired early (8pm) after sharing a bottle of wine we picked up in the nearest town (Hengxi) and the night was windier than we thought.

Mornings at the campsite are the ones to look forward to. Although the view was not as spectacular as the day before (a bit foggy), the tea plantations and the mountains still looked as majestic as they always are.

Morning view from the campsite (less clear than the day before)

KALA’s bamboo drip coffee filter was in service, brewing a slow coffee. We did not take the stand for convenience, but the insulated cup was a good size (tall enough) making sure the filter is not merged in the coffee (which can result in clogging). Because the bamboo filter is light, it was perfect for this kind of mission.

KALA’s bamboo drip coffee filter

I hope this short journey gives you inspiration for local adventures which are eco-friendlier, fun and memorable.

Products used on this trip which you can purchase from us are:

  • KALA bamboo drip coffee filter
  • KALA insulated bamboo cup
KALA official WeChat account

You can also view this article in our official WeChat account:

For English :

For Chinese :


KALA was founded by Mia and Elza Tedjosaputro, in May 2020. KALA provides high quality stylish home decor and accessories that highlight a few simple attainable changes towards an eco-friendly lifestyle. There is always an Indonesian touch ensuring we empower our craftsmen and promote Indonesian culture and craftsmanship. KALA’s specific design language is the use of natural materials and artisanal, with a sense of play of texture and product functionality. We are based in Indonesia and China.

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Happy World Bamboo Day!

Happy World Bamboo Day! Pic was taken by moi, at the Green Village (River House- me thinks). We had the BambooU farewell dinner there if I am not mistaken. My thought was, why don’t we do more of this exquisite architecture? Why did we not learn this in school?

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ReLabs interview

I got a chance to visit Darren O Connell’s weekend sanctuary in Qingshan Village, an hour away by car from Hangzhou. A beautiful village where Darren envisages a unique experience of workout with fitness equipment made out of bamboo. Of course we did the bamboo workout!

Link to interview can be found here:

Darren documents active interviews with entrepreneurs and inspiring people (and me). Here is a bit of me and my fascination with bamboo 🎋 Did the interview a few days ago at Qingshan Village. Head to ReLabs Wechat account to have a read at the rest of interviews.

This village is also home to an amazing architecture firm Pinwu. Check out their Rongsheji Design Library, full of catalogs of craftsmanship.

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Update 4: Completed Bamboo Pod 2

A gif each day’s milestones as follows:

18-23 July 2020.

Danshan Chishui, Yuyao, Zhejiang, China.

Sponsored by Aksen (China and Indonesia), in collaboration with Weishun Xu from Zhejiang University.

Our keen designers and makers are:

Jiang Yating
Chen Wu
Sun Xintian
Chuchu Qi
Yang Ruitong
Shen Jingli
Haiqing Yang
Xia Miaojun*
Feng Liyang
Li Ningyuan*
Fan Zeran

Facilitated by 3 lecturers:

Weishun Xu- Zhejiang University, Matt Wallwork- University of Nottingham Ningbo China and Mia A. Tedjosaputro- Ningbo University.


Computationally designed by ZHU team and crafted manually by the keen makers. We are framing the research questions on potentials of mixed reality in architecture to aid design and construction processes. Derived from the observations of two bamboo pods construction (for first pod, click here), the aim is to contribute on the area of computational bamboo architecture.

Photographs courtesy of Sun Xintian, Yang Ruitong and myself.

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