Bamboo scaffolding

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Bamboo scaffolding can reach great heights, here it was used to construct the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.

Bamboo scaffolding is a type of scaffolding made from bamboo and widely used in construction work for centuries. Many famous landmarks, notably The Great Wall of China, were built using bamboo scaffolding.[1][2]


It was first introduced into the building industry in Hong Kong immediately after colonization in the 1800s.[3][4] It was widely used in the building of houses and multi-story buildings (up to four stories high) prior to the development of metal scaffolding.[5][6] It was also useful for short-term construction projects, such as framework for temporary sheds for Cantonese Opera performances.[7] There is three types of scaffolding in Hong Kong: 1. Double-row scaffold; 2. Extended Bamboo scaffolding; 3. Shop signs of Bamboo Scaffolding.

Gradual decline[edit]

In 2013, there were 1,751 registered bamboo scaffolders and roughly 200 scaffolding companies in Hong Kong.[8] The use of bamboo scaffolding is diminishing due to shortages in labor and material. Despite the lack of labor force and material, recently the safety problem has become another serious concern.[9]

The labor shortage may be due to the reluctance of younger generations to become scaffolders. “They even think that it’s a dirty and dangerous job. They are not going to do that kind of work,” said Yu Hang Flord, who has been a scaffolder for 30 years and later became the director of Wui Fai Holdings, a member of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Scaffolders General Merchants Association. “They refuse to step in, although we give them high pay. They are scared of it. Young generations do not like jobs that involve hard work.” Another reason fewer people are becoming scaffolders is that new recruits need to undergo training with the Hong Kong Construction Industry Council in order to acquire a license. Older scaffolders generally learned in apprenticeships, and may have been able to gather more hands-on experience.[10]

Material shortages are also a contributing factor to the decline. The bamboo scaffolding material was imported from mainland China. Bamboo—which matures after three years to the wide diameter and thick skin perfect for scaffolding—came from the Shaoxing area in Guangdong. Over the past two decades, firms have had to look to Guangxi instead. The industry's fear is that one day supplies will be blocked due to export embargoes and environmental concerns. Attempts to import bamboo from Thailand, or switch to synthetic or plastic bamboo, have so far proved unsuccessful.

In many African countries, notably Nigeria, bamboo scaffolding is still used in small scale construction in urban areas. In rural areas,the use of bamboo scaffolding for construction is common. In fact, bamboo is an essential building and construction commodity in Nigeria; the bamboo materials are transported on heavy trucks and trailers from rural areas (especially the tropical rain forest) to cities and to the northern part of Nigeria.

Some of the structures in relaxation and recreation centres both in urban and rural areas of Nigeria are put in place using bamboo materials. This is not for reasons of poverty (especially in the cities) but to add more aesthetics to these centres. Bamboo materials are still used in the construction of some bukas (local restaurants) in rural areas.[11][12]


content about specifications


  • Double-row Scaffold

Only double-row bamboo scaffold is allowed to use for working at height.

  • Nylon Mesh

The perimeter of bamboo scaffold shall be covered by nylon mesh against falling objects. The lapping of nylon mesh should be at least 100mm wide.

  • Access and Egress

Suitable means of access shall be provided from the building or ground level to the scaffold such as gangway, stairs and ladder etc.

  • Catch Fan

Sloping catch fan shall be erected at a level close to the first floor and at not more than 15 metres vertical intervals to give minimum horizontal protection coverage of 1500mm. Large catch fan shall be erected at specific location to protect the public and/ or workers underneath.

  • Platform of Catch Fan or Receptacle

A suitable receptacle, which covered with galvanized zinc sheet, should be provided within each catch-fan to tap falling objects.

  • Steel Bracket

Steel brackets shall be provided for supporting the standard of scaffold at about six floor intervals. The horizontal distance between steel brackets is about 3 metres.

  • Putlogs

Mild steel bars or similar materials are required to tie any structure to maintain the bamboo scaffold in its position on every floor. The distance of adjacent putlogs is about 3 to 4 metres.

  • Working Platform

Every working platform shall be of at least 400mm wide and be closely boarded by planks. The edges of working platform shall be protected by not less than 2 horizontal bamboo members of the scaffold at intervals between 750mm to 900mm and suitable toe-boards with not less than 200mm high.

  • Special Scaffold

All scaffolds of height excess 15 metres shall be designed by Engineer.The Engineer shall be responsible for the design of special scaffolds.

  • Competent Examiner

They should complete a formal training in bamboo scaffolding work or hold trade test certificate on bamboo scaffolding and have at least 10 years of relevant experience.

  • Trained Worker

They should complete a formal training in bamboo scaffolding work or hold trade test certificate on bamboo scaffolding and have at least 3 years of relevant experience.

Uses in construction[edit]

A fulcrum supports this bamboo scaffolding in Hong Kong.

Scaffolding is a temporary structure to support people and materials when constructing or repairing building exteriors and interiors.[14] In bamboo scaffolding, plastic fibre straps and bamboo shoots together form a solid and secure scaffold structure without screws.[15] Bamboo scaffolding does not need to have a foundation on the ground as long as the scaffolding has a fulcrum for structural support.[16]

Bamboo scaffolding is mostly seen in developing Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.[citation needed]

Cultural usage[edit]

Chinese opera theatres[edit]

Chinese Opera is one of the world's "Intangible Cultural Heritages". One of bamboo scaffolding's main alternative uses is in drama theatres. The flexibility and convenience of this type of scaffolding suits stages set up for temporary use and also separates the audience from the performers.

Respecting and promoting the traditional cultures of Chinese Opera, a huge event called the West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre has been held at the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade annually since 2012.

Yu Lan Ghost Festival[edit]

Stages are built from bamboo scaffolding for the live Chinese operas and Chiu Chow–style dramas performed during every Yu Lan Ghost Festival to worship ghostly ancestors.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival[edit]

Bamboo scaffolds and bun towers in Cheung Chau

The bamboo tower used in the famous Bun Scrambling Competition during the Cheung Chau Bun Festival on the island of Cheung Chau is constructed out of bamboo scaffolding.[17] Nine thousand buns, representing fortune and blessing, are supported on the fourteen-meter tall bamboo tower in front of the Pak Tai Temple. For the Piu Sik Parade, bamboo stands and racks are used to hold the young costumed performers above the crowds.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Malm, Sara (8 March 2013). "How did that get past health and safety! To this day, Hong Kong's ultra-modern skyscrapers are built with scaffolding made out from bamboo". Daily Mail. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Bewitched by bamboo". China Daily. Retrieved 12 February 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  3. ^ "Why is Hong Kong last frontier for bamboo scaffolders?". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 12 February 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  4. ^ "Bamboo Scaffolding". The Industrial History of Hong Kong. Retrieved 12 February 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  5. ^ Hoh, Erling (31 May 2001). "In Hong Kong, way to the top is bamboo scaffold". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  6. ^ "Bamboo Scaffolding in HK Sees Looming Threat". HKBU Journalism Department. Retrieved 12 February 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  7. ^ Lee, Hong Lam. "Evolution of bamboo scaffolding for building construction in Hong Kongfrom the 1960s to the present day". The University of Hong Kong. Retrieved 12 February 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  8. ^ "Hong Kong's 'spiders' stick to bamboo scaffolding". The Independent. 21 November 2009. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  9. ^ [1] Bamboo Scaffolding in HK Sees Looming Threat
  10. ^ "Code of Practice for Bamboo Scaffolding Safety" (PDF). Occupational Safety and Health Branch Labour Department. Retrieved 12 February 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  11. ^ unpublished journals on The Use of Bamboo in Nigeria by Olaiya Festus, Adult Education Department, University of Ado Ekiti,November 2011.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Guidance Notes on Bamboo Scaffold ing Safety" (PDF). Hong Kong Architectural Services Department. Retrieved 12 February 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  15. ^ "Why do they still use bamboo scaffolding in Hong Kong?". HK Magazine. Retrieved 12 February 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  16. ^ "Guidelines on the Design and Construction of Bamboo Scaffolds" (PDF). Hong Kong Buildings Department. Retrieved 12 February 2015.  External link in |website= (help)
  17. ^ "Ready, steady, dough! Annual Cheung Chau bun scramble delivers parade to chew over". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 12 February 2015.  External link in |website= (help)

External links[edit]


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