Undulating roofs rise and fall over the jungle in waves; dramatic spiral staircases lead from the treetops to forest floor; bridges cut through groves of coconut palms and over gently flowing rivers. It’s the kind of tropical, Robinson Crusoe-esque fantasy world that children dream about. And it’s all made from bamboo.
Set on the banks of Bali’s Ayung River in Sibang on the outskirts of Ubud, the structures are part of the innovative Green Village, a community of 18 private homes redefining the concept of barefoot luxury.
Crafted from sustainably sourced bamboo grown across the island by some 200 farmers, the homes come courtesy of architectural firm Ibuku, headed up by ex-Donna Karan Collection designer Elora Hardy. Elora grew up in Bali, playing in rice fields around the home she shared with her parents – her father, notable jewellery designer John Hardy, no doubt inspiring her shift later in life from working with fabrics to working with bamboo.
Based in Bali since 1975, John has been experimenting with eco-friendly bamboo buildings on the island since the early 2000s, himself inspired by bamboo pioneer Linda Garland. In addition to a stunning bamboo-clad jewellery showroom designed to resemble a ship, John is behind the Green School, also built from the sustainably grown material and with an innovative curriculum slanted towards environmental education.
The Green School lies on the outskirts of Elora’s fantastical new village, where eight of the homes have been completed – the latest and largest is six levels and covers 750 square metres. The open-plan structures are all individual in design, and Elora and her team of Indonesian craftsmen, architects and builders oversee every detail, from the conceptual stages through to the interior and furniture design.
Each home takes about six to eight months to build, with clever design features including roll-down shutters to protect the inside from rainstorms as well as curving walls and floors to wrap around the jungle. Banana paper lines interior walls, stone slabs form kitchen counters and hand-hammered brass is used in bathrooms, but these are among the only non-bamboo materials used in the entire construction process.
Every room opens out to reveal Bali’s verdant tropical forest, with sunlight casting patterns through the basket-like lashings of bamboo. The homes encircle a community centre and café and residents also have access to organic produce from the Green Village gardens.
“We build light on the land,” says 30-something Elora. “Our creations are a statement of the potential for human innovation and ingenuity for the future.”