Golden Bamboo Column

This arrangement of tied-up bamboo has spirit and pluck. It is sturdy and resilient, yet it will sway and swing gracefully in the wind.

Golden Bamboo Column (2013)
Golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea), nylon cord
1 x 1 x 4 meters

The stalks are smooth but not uniform, gentle but not weak. The golden lines stack on top of each other and tilt at predictable angles, criss-crossing and zig-zagging their way upwards.

The structure is a classic tensegrity tower. It has nine levels. Each level is a twisted triangular prism consisting of three rods. The twist direction alternates between levels, and the length of the rods decreases as you travel upwards to give the column a gentle taper.

The rods are held together with thin braided nylon cord. The cord attaches to the ends of the rods with tied fixed loops. The loops loop around studs, which are additional pieces of bamboo nested into the hollow of the rods themselves, like this:

Some cords are adjustable thanks to a special friction hitch, the prusik, tied midway along their length. By adjusting the tension on these cords, the whole structure can be tuned and stabilized, like tightening on the head of a drum. Here's a closeup view of one of the prusiks:

The network of strings under tension perfectly balances the layout of sticks under compression. When a good amount of tension is applied the whole column will bounce and quiver, it has no problem holding itself together.