Click here to preview the new Fast Company

Want to try out the new

If you’d like to return to the previous design, click the yellow button on the lower left corner.

A Pre-Fab Bamboo Bicycle, Grown From The Ground In Bike Shape

The Ajiro—a concept from Australia—would come from the Earth fully formed. Is this the first step for a sustainable manufacturing economy?


Another bamboo bicycle? Yes—but the vehicle devised by Alexander Vittouris departs from the funky, tiki-bar-friendly lines made from this sustainable, globally ubiquitous grass. A design student at Australia's Monash University, Vittouris envisions a bicycle that isn't built, but grown—the bamboo stalks of the frame being trained into shape while the plant is growing. Inspired by arborsculpture, in which tree branches are fixed in expressive shapes that they take as the plant grows, Vittouris wants to develop a reusable framework that would shape bamboo into nearly finished bicycles.

While arboculture is a craft practice rather than a mass-production technique, its application to bamboo—which may be cultivated inexpensively, and grows with astonishing speed—offers at least a coy gleam of scalability. Manufacturing traditional bicycles expends energy and injects waste into the world, whether the frame is some space-age alloy or bamboo. Vittouris by contrast proposes "engaging the environment in (the) production phase through photosynthesis and carbon storage till ultimate destruction."

Vittouris' bicycle, which he calls the Ajiro, remains a concept; the project is a finalist for the James Dyson Award, a prize for student work offered by Good Design Australia. But even as conjecture, it's an inspiring glimpse of a different kind of production. The Ajiro goads the blog State of Green to imagine "farmlands full of bamboo manipulated over various structures" in place of bland and wasteful manufactories. Will we ever see green fields of bicycles—or chairs, or bedsteads—growing in the sun? Perhaps not. But even as design fiction, Vittouris' Ajiro may help us ask questions about the things we make. Perhaps by switching our metaphors from manufacturing to cultivation, we'll find the seeds of sustainability.

[Image: Australian Design Awards]

[Hat tip: Treehugger]

Follow @fastcompany.

Add New Comment


  • stateofgreen1

    Hi Matthew - Do you mind updating the link to State of Green as we have changed our URL address which has resulted in broken links.  The new URL to this State of Green piece on the Ajiro Bicycle is now as follows:


    Jenny Tranter
    State of Green

  • Alexander Vittouris

    Indeed, I also would not be advocating that the traditional bicycle is energy hungry in production, and this has not been mentioned in any of my writings. It also depends on the future levels of alternative mobility uptake. 
    This particular vehicle I have have designed classifies as a velomobile, which bridges between various other vehicles such as scooters/microcars or quadracycles. 
    The point of the research investigation is to explore alternative production methods which would replace a range of other vehicles for short distance urban use, all of which utilise traditional post productions modification of various materials (steel, timber etc).

  • moviedemon

    I noticed that too - that statement was totally absurd. Compared to the energy expended and waste generated in building a car, the manufacture of bicycles is barely a blip on the radar!

    Anyway, love that bike - it's the first bamboo recumbent I've seen.  I hope the inventor offers them for sale. I want one!

  • Michael Brown

    Interesting concept.  Looks like it may need a bit more lateral stiffining in that frame.  Good concept, nontheless.

    But, "Manufacturing traditional bicycles expends energy and injects waste into the world"??  Really?  Is that what you're going with?  ....Really?