How to build a bamboo shade structure

Current Las Malvinas Community Center Shade Structure


This project is a collaboration between students enrolled in the Practivistas Dominicana Program and the rural community of Las Malvinas in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The community center in Las Malvinas currently functions as a space for the community to hold meetings and workshops; however, the lack of a durable shade and rain-proof structure along the outside of the building has prevented the community from being able to use the space when weather conditions are too hot or too rainy.


The client at hand is the community of Las Malvinas in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. They have requested that a rain/shade structure be built by Practivistas Dominicana at their local community center (Estacion Ecological Comunitario) between May-July 2014. Three of the students working on the project are from Humboldt State University in California and one student from Universidad Iberoamericana in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. After a community meeting was held, it was determined that the structure should be able to protect from rain as well as sun so the community could hold meetings, classes and workshops in comfort. Community members voiced their opinions that aesthetics, durability, and locality of materials were some of their main concerns in regards to the construction of the structure. Bamboo and palm fronds are some of the possible local materials that could be utilized.

Building a Bamboo Shade StructureEdit

These are the instructions for the assembly and construction of a bamboo shade structure designed by students enrolled in the Practivistas Dominicana Program in the Dominican Republic. The shade structure consists of bamboo, upcycled billboard tarps and flattened steel drums. Instructions are included below.

How To BuildEdit

Before building with bamboo, it is advised to research techniques and recommendations for appropriate season for harvesting as well as methods of harvesting and drying. (For our project we used bamboo that was still partially green which is not desirable but was necessary based on time and resource constraints).

Build a Bamboo Shade Structure
  Step 1: Removing the previous damaged shade structure
  Step 2 : When harvesting bamboo, select poles that appear darker green to gray in color, and around 3-5 years of age. Cut just above the culm closest to the ground with a machete, and gently set bamboo on the ground to divide into desirable sizes.
  Step 3: After taking proper measurements for the location of your desired shade structure, cut bamboo to appropriate lengths. Make a concrete mixture to secure the poles into the ground surrounding the perimeter of the existing structure. Insert rebar into the center of the bottom culm and ensure that the concrete is inside the entire bottom culm.
  Step 4: When concrete is in the entire bottom culm, fasten steel clamps around the diameter of the bamboo and leave to dry (may take several days).
  Step 5: Dig holes that are wide enough and deep enough so that the bamboo poles will sit securely in the ground.
  Step 6: Fill holes with concrete and leave to dry for several days without disturbing the posts. (You may need to add supports on the side of the beams to prevent tilting).
  Step 7: Once all the supporting posts are up and cemented into place, they are allowed to dry for several days before beginning construction.
  Step 8: The tops of the bamboo columns are cut into a wide 'U' shape so that the bamboo beams cam be put into place.
  Step 9: Set the beams in place and drill holes in the bamboo to secure with wire (we also used 2x4 beams because we needed install corrugated zinc metal sheets on the roof).
  Step 10: Installing the 2x4 beams in preparation for the zinc roof.
  Step 11: Lay down the zinc panels and secure with roofing nails.
  Step 12: On the other side of the structure, we built a truss. The bottom bamboo pole has been cut to lock in with the pole on top. Wire was used to secure the poles together.
  Step 13: Truss is attached to a 2x4 beam in the center.
  Step 14: Measuring billboard, rolling and stapling across a 2x4 beam to attach to existing zinc roof and bamboo posts.
  Step 15: Billboard is attached to a 2x4 beam using a staple gun and then the beam is nailed into the zinc roof.
  Step 16: Billboard is attached to another panel using vinyl glue.
  Step 17: The finished project!


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Fig 1: Shade design angle 1  
Fig 1a: Shade design angle 2  
Fig 1b: Shade design angle 3  


This is the proposed draft budget for the shade structure.

Quantity Material Source Cost (RD$) Total (RD$) Rope Las Malvinas 400.00 400.00
15 Wire Arroyo Norte 140.00 140.00
20 Corrugated Zinc Sheets Las Malvinas 1,000.00 1,000.00
15 2x4s Arroyo Norte 2,000.00 2,000.00
3 Recycled Billboards Billboards 'R Us 333.00 1,000.00
15 Recycled 55gal Drums Arroyo Norte 300.00 4,500.00
1 Tools Nacional 2,183.00 2,183.00
1 TBD Santo Domingo 8000.00 8000.00
Total Cost $15,683.00


The bamboo used during this construction was not fully dried or cured and more preparation of the culms is highly desirable. However, this structure was secured using only lashing on the bamboo and not using nuts or bolts in the still drying bamboo. This type of securing will prevent cracking that would have occurred if hardware were to be used at the joints. Holes were drilled in the bamboo posts to secure the 2x4s and bamboo beams through lashing. Further inspection in the future is necessary to check if cracking has occurred.

Next stepsEdit

1. Testing the bamboo for moisture content while watching its durability and strength to determine whether the drying time was sufficient or whether it was an issue in maintaining the integrity of the structure over time. 2. Adding more bamboo support beams under the billboard so the vinyl will lay more flat. 3. Checking the vinyl to ensure there has not been tears in the panels.


The finished shade structure consisted 2x4s lashed to bamboo poles which were filled with concrete and rebar and then sunk into holes in the ground filled with concrete. On one side of the fogon corrugated zinc panels were installed, and on the other side of the fogon the team built a bamboo truss. The team installed billboard vinyl panels over the bamboo truss by nailing down the vinyl to the zinc roof, and at the other end of the panel the team lashed onto the bamboo posts. On the side of the fogon with the billboard vinyl, it will be necessary to install more bamboo support beams underneath the vinyl to ensure its security and flatness.

Contact detailsEdit

  • Baron Creager :
  • Caitlin Faber :
  • Caelidh Liddell :
  • Marjorie Casado :