Ibuku bends bamboo into a snail-shaped jungle retreat down by the river
Balinese architecture firm Ibuku continues to build out its impressive portfolio of incredible bamboo hotels, with the completion of a new riverside retreat near Ubud. Named River Bend, the hotel has the hallmarks of Ibuku's bent bamboo interiors, while the outside appears like a pair of golden snails tucked in alongside a winding river in the thick of the jungle.
Bamboo is found in great abundance all over the tropics, and for some time the folks at Ibuku have been harnessing its impressive structural qualities to craft incredible homes, hotels, schools and spas. This is most spectacularly demonstrated at Bali's Green Village and, in particular, through its Sharma Springs retreat, a towering six-story feat of engineering on the banks of the gushing Ayung River.
Ibuku primarily uses a species of bamboo called Dendrocalamus asper for its purposes, carefully plucking it from valley and mountain farmlands at ages of three to five years. This is the harvesting window that makes for bamboo young enough not to crack, but mature enough not to shrink once it is chopped down. The material is then treated with a boron solution to lock in the glucose and stave off hungry insects, before being put to use in construction.
In designing River Bend, the architects set out to create something that resembled a nest more than a house. And the gridshell structural system employed here certainly creates a nest-like aesthetic on the inside where large beams can be seen criss-crossing one another.
Nestled in up against a bend in the Ayung River, the two-bedroom retreat is totally enclosed and air-conditioned, with windows encircling the living room and kitchen to offer 220-degree views of the jungle surroundings. The height and position of the windows are deliberately staggered to make the most of those vistas.
The River Bend guesthouse is made to sleep four people beneath its shiny, domed copper roof, which as the architects point out, resembles a pair of golden snails up against the river's edge. Rates start at US$645 per night in the regular season, which runs from January 6 to the end of April.