When we speak of “growing” a more sustainable local economy, the term is usually not meant literally; but in the case of an innovative design for a new transport vehicle, we may actually be able to grow our way into a more sustainable future. A beautiful new three-wheeled recumbent bicycle has been created that is constructed from renewable organic materials. The bamboo bike was derived from techniques used in arborsculpture, a more complex form of topiary, which utilizes specifically modified and grafted plants to create shaped structures which are very strong. The process is also known as “grown mobility”.
Ajiro: Grown Mobility
This award-winning velomobile is known as the “Ajiro”, and was created by student designer Alexander Vittouris. Building this machine involves using sustainable principles to create a transportation vehicle that is almost entirely made of natural biodegradable materials. Using an easily renewable resource like bamboo, with its rapid growth rate (as much as one meter in just a 24 hour period), coupled with its amazing structural integrity, makes this vehicle a very sensible choice. Mr. Vittouris explains a bit about how the recumbent is made:
“In this case, the manipulation and intervention is more akin to a farming process, whereby bamboo plants need time for thorough establishment to form the required energy mass to produce new culms. The vast array of species available also lends such a mobility concept to be locally grown, creating distributed, localized production. For the sake of the research experimentation, Bambusa Oldhamii seems most appropriate for climatic suitability in Australia, and whilst progress has been made in proving its growth and viability, more plant establishment would be necessary.
Embracing a natural process, affords knowledge of a somewhat different kind — products take time to create, they take resources. Growing sections to be used in ones personal mobility teaches that material worth is beyond that of ‘discardability’, ones own efforts, witnessing growth, creates a tangible link to the very history of the product. Growing materials for direct transference to products also indicates other possibilities for maximizing a single materials use, rather than relying on either multiple materials or processes to fulfill criteria.
Possibilities unheard of in conventional production process may allow the opportunity for community farms of vehicles growing once thorough plant establishment has taken place. The Ajiro concept is about rethinking our approach to both design and ecological sustainability of the products we create. Approaches towards sustainable personal mobility will surely be necessary, and growing vehicles may provide that answer.”