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T is a rigid steel structure that includes convenient working platforms protected by kickboards and guardrails. But in Hong Kong, most of the scaffolding used for everything from replacing windows and repairing neon signs to constructing 70-story skyscrapers is pieced together on the job site from long, flexible bamboo poles — botanically a type of grass (see photos below). In high-rise scaffolding, a bottom tier of 4- to 8-inch poles of Chinese fir bears the heaviest compressive loads. Two distinct kinds of bamboo are used above the wooden base posts: a main grid of thick, heavy maao-chuk bamboo poles placed on 10-foot centers, and infill of lighter ko-chuk bamboo poles, spaced about 21/2 feet apart. Fir diagonal braces are