contact    about    projects   workshop    ︎    FB

Kapal Bambu Ecolodge cottages
2014 - 2016


Our client, YEL Foundation, is fighting for the Rainforest and Orangutans in Indonesia.  The use of hardwoods of the rain-forest can be adverse to their aims, and was central to their brief. This project promotes bamboo as an alternative building material than hardwood to locals and other designers.

In North Sumatra, Bukit Lawang, boarding the Gunung Leusser National Park, this rare bamboo building sits softly along the meandering Bukit river. Under its sweeping deep eaves it houses YEL Foundation* as a resort and environmental education centre.

*(Yasyasan  Ekosistem Lestari YEL Foundation, the indonesian subsidiary Foundation of the swiss PanEco Non-Profit Foundation)

The 550m2 ground floor is a 400 seated restaurant, resort bar, a shop and reception with back office and toilets.   The 450m2 first floor accommodates the Resort Lounge (an open space for conservation education, events and library).    
Key figures
Architect Lukas Zollinger
Bamboo consultant / construction  
Joerg Stamm
Ground floor 550m
First floor 450m2   
Roof 1’305m2
Height 13m  Length 45m  Depth 17m

Bamboo pole length 110’000m  
Origin material Indonesia
Construction time 12 months
Budget costs 300’000 €

Links ︎
Eco Lodge, Bukit Lawang


Photos ︎ Johanna Henning
Lukas Zollinger

Inspired by bamboo and the rainforest setting, the design permeates from natures natural curves. The ground and first floor is an elliptical shape in plan. The roof is long sweeping with deep over hangs, of traditional batak and karo roof style out of bamboo shingles. An elliptical light well pierces through the centre of the roof to ground floor with an openable glass roof, improving natural light and air-circulation. Through very passive means, the design offers the user a comfortable environment in this often humid and hot climate. The beautiful bamboo columns, clumped naturally together, remove the need of walls. This creates a light and open building, blurring the line of inside and out.

Photos by Jakob Widmer

Above the polished terrazzo cement floor, the whole construction of the building is made out of bamboo. Only the closed rooms at the ground floor are built out of brick walls and clay plaster.

In collaboration with the German-Columbian bamboo expert Joerg Stamm, a light and open structure was created. The “kapal bambu“ and the whole interior including furniture has been designed and built under the swiss architect Lukas Zollinger.

At peak time, a construction team of 65 locals artisans and foreign volunteers were involved on the site. Before the construction of the “kapal bambu“ could be started, a bamboo production area, as well as a workshop for furniture production, was built close-by.