Bamboo Playhouse

The Bamboo Playhouse is a public pavilion located at Perdana Botanical Gardens, Kuala Lumpur’s oldest park where it forms an important green lung in the heart of the city. It encompasses an area of almost 91 hectares with a large lake stretching through the centre. It is picturesque with a huge collection of mature trees and plants and is very popular with local visitors and tourists. The pavilion itself is situated on a small island in the lake and is used by many as a place to meet, rest and play.

Bamboo thrives in Malaysia where it has almost 50 species growing, of which 25 is indigenous. There are several species that have thick culm walls with strengths suitable to use in construction. The aim of this project is to demonstrate that bamboo is a sustainable building material, and when it was completed in 2015, it became first formal bamboo structure in the country.

Positioned along the edge of the lake, the playhouse is an open structure with raised square platforms set at multiple levels. Inspiration for the playhouse stems from traditional vernacular structures called the ‘wakaf’ which are originally found in villages or ‘kampungs’. These structures are essentially freestanding shelters that can be used freely by anyone in the community as a place to rest. Here, the playhouse can be described as a series of ‘wakafs’ grouped together to form an animated and playful bamboo structure that blends harmoniously with the beautiful greenery of the botanical garden. It offers a series of indeterminate spaces, with various opportunities of use and occupation.

The pavilion consists of thirty-one identical square decks set at various, seemingly random heights, creating a playful three-dimensional floorscape. Above the floor level are repetitive modular structures made entirely out of bamboo. From the centre of each deck, a tree-like column rises to support the roof. ‘Tree-houses’, in the form of bamboo baskets, are hung off the columns and they add another ‘playful’ element to the pavilion. Right above each column are photovoltaic panels used to generate electricity to power the lighting fixtures of the playhouse and its surrounding area.