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Why We Love Radical Ideas: Architect Rethinks Housing With Bamboo 

  • Podcast

17th ThinkBamboo Podcast with Raphaël Ascoli – French Architect whose journey has been interwoven with the dynamic landscape of bamboo innovation. Focusing most recently on low-cost bamboo housing for emergency shelter in Asia.

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Video podcast interview with Raphaël Ascoli and JJ from

Video Quick Links

[00:00] Raphaël Ascoli focuses on low-cost housing and emergency shelters using Bamboo
[06:07] Burmese pagodas use unique organic-shaped bamboo scaffolding instead of steel
[11:53] Bamboo construction offers a high-quality & innovative solution for local housing
[17:47] Promoting bamboo construction in Madagascar
[23:37] Private company collaborates with NGOs for low-cost housing solutions in Myanmar
[29:26] Bamboo roofing is cost-effective and requires skilled work and extensive knowledge
[34:29] Challenges faced due to political turmoil require careful considerations
[39:27] Southeast Asia is leading the push for bamboo as a construction material
[44:43] Transition in design and engineering is bringing new innovation and challenges

Welcome to the ThinkBamboo Podcast,! In this episode, we are thrilled to introduce Raphaël Ascoli, a trailblazer whose journey has been interwoven with the dynamic landscape of bamboo innovation. From his formative years in China to his professional ventures in Japan and his eventual settlement in Myanmar, where he founded the visionary architecture design studio, Blue Temple, Raphaël’s story is a testament to creativity, passion, and transformative design. Ascoli and his team have been focusing their attention most recently on low-cost bamboo housing for emergency shelter. We met first time in Germany at the EuropeanBambooExpo 2023 in Dortmund.

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A Journey of Creativity and Vision

Raphaël Ascoli’s journey began in China. Subsequently, he spent several years working in Japan. Eventually, he settled in Myanmar, founding Blue Temple architecture design studio. Concurrently, he began teaching at Yangon Technological University.

Furthermore, Ascoli initiated architecture design workshops and community-led public space projects. In addition, he published research on computational mapping in data-deserts, innovative bamboo construction, and urban planning for Yangon. For instance, he proposed a linear park and urban drainage upgrade using fluid dynamics.

Presently, Ascoli and his team concentrate on low-cost housing, showcasing his multifaceted contributions to architecture and education.

His diverse experiences across countries shape a narrative of cross-cultural design innovation and boundless architectural exploration. Expanding beyond architecture, Raphaël Ascoli holds a notable educational role at Yangon Technological University. His mission extends to inspiring and nurturing young minds to think innovatively and push boundaries. His impact goes beyond paper designs, extending to immersive workshops and innovative community-led public space projects.

Research and Vision: Pioneering Sustainable Futures

Raphaël’s intellectual pursuits have led to a diverse range of research contributions. His work spans domains such as computational mapping in data-desert landscapes, pioneering bamboo construction techniques, and visionary urban planning proposals for Yangon. These endeavors underscore his commitment to shaping a sustainable and vibrant future for communities.

bamboo scaffolding in Myanmar
Photo: Unique Bamboo scaffolding of Burmese pagodas have inspired Raphaël work

Low-Cost Housing: Bamboo’s Transformative Potential

Raphaël’s recent efforts center on affordable housing, where his passion and pragmatism converge as focal points. His explorations delve into harnessing bamboo’s potential to create affordable housing and emergency shelters in Myanmar. Inspired by the intricate organic scaffolding of Burmese pagodas, he highlights bamboo’s capacity to replace steel innovatively while honoring tradition.

Collaboration and Complexity: Navigating Challenges

The conversation navigates through a range of captivating topics. Exploring the intricacies of design amid social and political constraints, we uncover the art of fostering collaborations. These collaborations bridge private enterprises and NGOs, advancing affordable housing in Myanmar.
Additionally, the conversation delves further into the craftsmanship, experience, and knowledge crucial for bamboo roofing. Moreover, it explores the importance of these elements for successful implementation. Above all, the focus is on achieving sustainable construction practices. This roofing stands as a pivotal element within sustainable construction practices.

Southeast Asia: Bamboo’s Vanguard

As we delve into Raphaël’s insights, it becomes clear that Southeast Asia is at the forefront of promoting bamboo as a transformative material in construction. Moreover, as we transition into design and engineering, innovation is sparked, and a unique set of challenges arises. However, these challenges are adeptly overcome by forward-thinking individuals like Raphaël Ascoli, showcasing their ability to surmount obstacles.


Raphaël Ascoli’s journey is a testament to the power of innovative thinking and resourcefulness in tackling complex housing issues. His commitment to sustainable practices, his adaptation to dynamic political landscapes, and his reimagining of bamboo’s potential highlight the importance of pushing boundaries to create positive change. As Ascoli continues to redefine housing norms, his story serves as an inspiration for architects, designers, and dreamers around the world.

Experience the full interview with Raphaël Ascoli on the ThinkBamboo Podcast, where he shares insights into his architectural journey and the remarkable impact of bamboo on housing innovation.