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Dr Maximilian Bock

Dr Maximilian Bock

Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Architectural Engineering

Project Manager / Research Coordinator of the EcoHouse Initiative

Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 760124


Since 2012 I have been working as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate funded by the Newton Trust at the Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge. The subject of my research is renewable materials in low-cost sustainable housing solutions. My investigations have focused on two materials in particular: chalk tiles and bamboo products. I investigated the mixing of locally sourced chalk with lime amongst other materials for application as a sustainable construction material. In the process I applied my PhD training in nanotechnology, using electron imaging techniques to compare our findings on the macro-level with the micro-structure. These mixtures then formed the basis for tiles and bricks to perform material strength testing to optimise the mixture and estimate the intrinsic maximum strength value. As part of our comprehensive project on bamboo products for construction, I studied the environmental impact of different processing techniques to evaluate the potential of bamboo products for reducing emissions in the construction sector which accounts for almost 40% of CO2 emissions globally.

As a research coordinator in our Natural Materials and Structures group, my work has taken me to many different countries. These primarily include rapidly developing nations such as Brazil, China, and India to establish close ties with local communities, governmental and international organisations in order to extend the impact of our work and facilitate its inclusion into policy making processes. This work has kindled my interest in the developing world as an academic focus and provided me with the awareness of the needs of local communities that can be addressed by Higher Education research.

Research Interests

Structual Bamboo

Bamboo has drawn my attention since attending the 9th World Bamboo Congress in Belgium, back in 2011. Coming from a strong scientific background, my initial investigations involved the micro-structural properties of bamboo using sophisticated machinery such as Scanning Electron Microscopywhich enables viewing objects below the diffraction limit of optical microscopes. This work is now actively pursued by the project collaborators at MIT to further our understanding of the material properties of bamboo and bamboo products, and enable us to scale up this knowledge from the micro-level to the level of construction.

A keen traveller and field researcher, I have since embarked on numerous trips around the world to learn about the available bamboo resources, processing techniques, and pathways to construction and commercialisation. With the contact and local support of International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), an extensive visit to Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador, in 2012, and Zhejiang, China, in 2013 was arranged visiting plantation, production and exhibition centres. To establish better links with the bamboo community in Taiwan, a holistic research exchange trip was made in 2013 centred around Nantou, the bamboo province of Taiwan, organised by Dr Wen-Shao Chang from Bath University. As bamboo is regaining its importance as a sustainable construction material, I travelled alongside Simon Velez to visit on-going and recent bamboo constructions in Colombia in 2013 with planned trips in 2014. Colombia is currently the leading country for policy making on constructing with bamboo and derivative products and thus of great interest to the work on-going at Cambridge University on building codes and standards for modified bamboo.

Bamboo in the 21st century has to become a multi-disciplinary research field that goes beyond the sphere of material science, processing and construction. It can be embedded into the quest of solving the challenges of our time, such as climate change mitigation, earthquake resilience, and alleviating poverty. Taking advantage of the big data movement and visualising information via maps and holistic graphs, I am a strong proponent of bamboo as a game changer to the challenging forecast for this century and invite researchers across the globe to participate in holistic research programmes with tangible impact for the world.

EcoHouse Initiative

As a Project Manager of the EcoHouse Initiative, I conduct research on sustainable and affordable housing in the developing world as well as in structural bamboo products. I have been an active member of the EcoHouse Initiative since 2011 and travelled to Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, and Taiwan to establish close ties with local communities, governmental and international organisations as part of my role.

Key Publications


Bock, et al. The Challenge of Slum Research. January Cambridge Slum Research Conference Proceedings (2014).

Michaelis, et al. Co-catalytic absorption layers for controlled laser-induced chemical vapor deposition of carbon nanotubes. ACS applied materials & interfaces (2014).

Ramage, et al. Steps Bank Chalk Tile Research Part II. (2013)

Bock, et al. Optical feedback mechanisms in laser induced growth of carbon nanotube forests. Applied Physics Letters 100.1 (2012): 013112.

Ramage et al. Steps Bank Chalk Tile Research. (2012)


Mulligan, et al. Material today and the future: engineering and design of bamboo in the data. World Architecture 12 (2013).

Kewei, et al. Global Bamboo Architecture Overview - Trends and Challenges. World Architecture 12 (2013).

Perkel. Coding your way out of a problem. nature methods 8.7 (2011): 541.