What are those bamboo teepees in Ryan Playground?

Spencer Powers, shown on ladder, helped Leon David and CJ Valerus assemble a bamboo structure at Ryan Playground in Mattapan last week. Dave Mareira photo

Visitors to Ryan Park in Mattapan this past week might have noticed that a pair of new structures have appeared in the field near 315 River Street.

Two 14-foot tall bamboo teepee-like structures were installed last weekend by a team helmed by a pair of Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT) alumni who first assembled the buildings for an art installation near the Museum of Fine Arts last year. Those students, Collin Sabin and Vrajesh Patel, learned about bamboo construction and architecture through Bamboo Bali Studio, a WIT independent study program set in Bali.

In recent years, Wentworth professor Robert Cowherd has led students in an independent study program at Green School Bali, forging a collaboration with the school's bamboo design-build program that has since graduated over 200 Master Builders, including 32 Wentworth Architecture students. In a press release, Cowherd provided some background on the history of bamboo construction as an important cultural legacy in Indonesia:

“During the 18th and 19th centuries, Dutch colonial officials banned bamboo buildings throughout the Southeast Asian archipelago as ‘unsanitary.’ Today a dedicated network of self-proclaimed ‘Bamboo Revolutionaries’ in Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world, is working to create bamboo forest economies as an alternative to short-sighted extractive projects driving climate change.”

Now reincarnated in a new home on the Neponset Greenway as a donation from Wentworth, the bamboo structures will be showcased as a fixture of Mattapan Love events throughout the summer.

Additional information about the bamboo structures and their installation, including small scale models and Wentworth literature about the program, is available at Ideal Mixer at 1518 Blue Hill Ave.

edit: an earlier version of this story incorrectly named Robert Cowherd as the founder of Green School Bali. Green School Bali was founded by John and Cynthia Hardy.