Monday, March 17, 2014

Looking Back Looking Ahead !!

Wonder Grass has had a wonderful journey so far, there have been many highs and some lows, but by far we have held our nerves and have been able to put things in fair order.

The third quarter of the year 2013-14 saw us hitting a bit of low, with no project in hand, and the two big ticket projects, which were completed during this period, the clients decided to hold the payments siting many unimaginable excuses and reasons.

We have been able to finish execution of a 'Gou-Darshan Shala' project for the Tirumala Tirupati Devsthanam complex.

The Teacher's Housing and Principals office for a Eklavya Tribal school has been completed and handed over in the month of October' 14.

All in all the year so far has been fairly rewarding in terms of the stabilization of fabrication and installation processes for building-systems and technologies being developed by Wonder Grass. Especially the building system for one of our key product-line 'QuB - Cottage in a Box' has vastly improved.

We have also been been able to devote some time to redesign and standardize the Bamboo-Panels and shading systems product-offerings. The panels are better in design, detail as well as production-fabrication processes.

The last quarter, that is January 2014 onward has brought in some small but significant projects, which helped the organization and the team to keep the momentum going.

We worked on extension for office for Selco-Foundation, then worked on supply of treated-bamboo poles for project by Ar. Uday Andhare in Ahmadabad.

Our new team member, Mr. Samit Mukharjee who has been coordinating our efforts on marketing and sales, has been able to bring in and close two projects around Bhubneshwar. This is a good opening and beginning in the eastern region for Wonder Grass.

We are building two cottages each about 450 Sq ft for a project taken up by Sungreen Resorts private limited, on its property close to Konark. The other one is a Home office for  Forest department in Chandika Dampara forst range near Bhubneshwar.

As compared to our performance in the year 2012-13 we have slide down a bit, but the early signs for the year that is 2014-15 are very encouraging.

Specially encouraging is our recently developed building system for Workers Housing 'B-Hive', which is a modular and expandable living units for the Transit housing requirements on large scale infrastructure or building projects.

More about this Transit housing product line in the next blog-post.

We are also working on what we call Mobile-Toilet, which we see has a huge potential for usages and applications again in the transit settlements like Worker's Housing, large religious gatherings etc.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Teachers housing at Ekalvya school vankua,

The Teacher's housing project is drawing towards last leg, and it feels really good to see that the time we have spent on the project, is bringing some good results.

Although we did over-shoot the delivery date, by as much as 2 months, but we kept ourselves focused on the building something with which we are happy, and we are happy for what we have built.

Approach to the House - Verandah with a Pergola
Construction in different stages on five-houses

Hall/ Living space as one enters the house

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Staff Quarter's for Teacher's of a Tribal School

Teachers Housing units, for 'Eklavya Tribal School', Vankua, Gujrath

The school is run by 'Muni Sewa Ashram', Goraj; a globally acknowledged charitable institution working in the area of healthcare and education, for over three decades now. The organization is respected for its dedication to the cause and providing excellent services to the needy and those in distress.

Its a complete house, with one hall, a dining, kitchen and bedroom with attached toilet. The house ad-measures approximately 600 Sq ft in built-up area.

The site is a long stretch / piece of land sandwitched between a row of coconut tress, fully grown and beautiful. The houses are oriented East-west, with the front facing the east. The houses recieve an ample shade from coconut trees, during most of the time of the day.

The attempt in design and execution of the building-unit has been to build something which is simple yet an enchanting place for those who are living in here. First of the four unts is nearing completion and we feel / believe that we have been successful in achieveing to a great extent in what we started out to in the first place.

Here we share some of the first few images of the house nearing completion,

One of the interesting feature of this project has been the joinery that we have used in the building of these houses. The joints are simple, done neatly and have come out to be elegant in character.

The Verandah and hall during Night-time.

Students from the school participating in the process:
Children have an innate curiosity for a very act of building, and it is something they are drawn to naturally. The project site is within school campus, so during the evenings, children flock around the project site and observe the construction with keenness.

Sometimes they would be enthused to participate and do something with their hands. Some of the students coming from tribal family background have a sense of creation which is fearless, something which comes out in the bold lines, distinctive forms.

Children enjoy the very act of creation, and these children have a natural flair to draw and paint. It has been indeed such a pleasure working here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bamboo Bridge - Teamwork at Play

Building of a Bridge - Team-work all the way

What probably was the most important feature of this work is that it was a team effort that made this project a real possibility. The design evolved with the artisan team leading the way, and developing the initial form, details etc.
standing (from right) - Naresh Bhau, Vaibhav, Uttamrao, Suresh Sitting (from Left) - Pravin Bawane, Chhagan, Jairam bhau, Lalsingh, Maatin, Yadav kambli, lalman .  

After a first couple of days of the finalizing of the project by our client, the enormity of task at hand started to sink in my head that building a bamboo bridge is something easier said than done, and with no experience of building a structure of this size and scale, i started to feel a bit lost and pressed.

I shared this news with the team when we all sat together at our workshop in Peth, the excitement on their faces and thrill that we can try doing something like this was enough to make me feel confidant. And we began a very exciting journey over next 4 months of discovering our individual strengths as well as joy of working together as a team.

This was a time filled with lots of excitement, hard-work, experimentation, tight-schedules, glitches in delivery from vendors, failures of the structural members in loading tests, refining and redesigning the elements etc etc.

Design Team - Naresh bhau, Yogesh Tembhre, Yadav Kambli, Pravin Bawane,Nikhil shringarey, Lokesh Gaikwad, Jairam bhau, Sachin Nikhare,Vaibhav Kaley

Project management Team - Sandip Gadekar

On-site project coordination - Vedant Sathe

Execution Team -
Jairam bhau and Shaligram
Naresh bhau - Site supervision

Team Leads - Yadav kamdi, Yogesh Tembhre, Pravin Bawane, Maatin bete and Jairam bhau

Artisans in the execution group  

The fabrication of building components was carried out at our building-workshop at village peth. We did erect full-scale mock-ups of individual members to understand what would it actually mean to do the same on the site-conditions. In the course we did refine our fabrication and assembly sequences.

artisans - Sachin Nikhare, Vaibhav Moon, Ganesh, Sandip, Balaji, mangesh, Suraj telang, Sushil, Namdeo,
melghat group-  Suresh, Suka, Lalsingh, Lalman, Chhagan, Saheblal,


Friday, March 15, 2013

BMW - Guggenheim Urban Lab Mumbai

Urban - Lab Mumbai ; The Making of 'Mother Lab' at Bhau Daaji Laad Museum, Mumbai

Client -  Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA
project architect - Ar. Yoshi associates, Tokyo, Japan
Resident Architect - SDM Architect, mumbai
Structural consultants - Aarup consultants, Mumbai

The work was as fascinating and interesting as it could get. More than the final outcome or our work, which was primarily an exhibition set-up built and erected for an urban scale exhibition conceived and developed by Guggenheim Museum as 'Urban lab'.

The urban-lab is an interesting idea, more details of which could be found at the website

The project had a lot of learning's and take-away for Wonder Grass and its team, one of the most important yet the most invisible one was the opportunity to work with some really interesting, committed, focused individuals and organizations of international standing and repute.

In the hindsight, the project has been instrumental in bringing about some important changes in the way we  deliver our works / projects at Wonder Grass. Although the intentions to deliver a project on-time and to-the-satisfaction of clients is there, we probably fell short in the diligence and stamina to sustain our focus till the end of the project, which would affect some aspect of the project or other.

Our association with professionals, who were wonderful individuals as well, helped us bridge some of these gaps, and in-turn fired our imagination in many different ways.

Ar. Samir De'monte, who runs an architectural practice in Mumbai and Ar. Mirai Morita working with Ar. Yoshi at Tokyo, Japan participated. over-saw the process with diligence.

Ar. Mirai, spent whole 10 days at our workshop in a village Peth, near Nagpur to address and solve issues of fabrication-assembly and erection if any on the site itself. The ever vigilant, perfectionist by habit and hard-working Mirai became friends with the whole team quite fast.

Her presence and keen interest in the artisans helped boost the morale of the team a great deal.

Joinary; was one interesting part of this project, we employed primarily rope-based tying methids to secure various junction in the structure.

Assembly and erection of exhibition-structure at the project-site

Half-way through the assembly:
Exhibition projects are always executed under the pressure of time, It has its own energy, pressures and schedules with last minute problems to be solved.


Team enjoyed itself during the course of the whole project, specially the artisan team. It was good to see them enjoy the process

on right Yadav Kambli, Ashish, Jagdish Sahare, Mirai Morita, Vaibhav Kaley, Amol Ninave and Sachin Nikhare on extreme left

Bamboo Bridge at Pyramid valley, Bangalore

Project - To build a Foot-over bridge 160 ft long and 8 ft wide
Project Site - Pyramid Valley International Center, Bangalore
Client - Pyramid Valley International Center
Project-team - Ar. Bharathi, Er. Bhasker, mr. Chandrashekhar (Managing Trustee of the Center)

Design and Execution - Wonder Grass initiatives
Structural design support - Er. BL Manjunath
Project Time-frame - June to November' 2013

A proposal to build a foot-over bridge spanning a valley in a campus of  Pyramid Valley International  Center at Bangalore, gave us an opportunity to build a really large-span structure and push the structural potential of bamboo as a building material a step further, as we understood it.

It was the blessings from Bramhishri Patrijee that we really set ourselves onto the challenging task of building of the bridge. I guess it was his faith in the idea of sustainability and its relevance in a place of spiritual development that gave this project a big push. the pyramid valley team comprising of Ar. Bharathi, Engineer Bhaskar and Mr. Chandrashekhar showed a sense of confidence in Wonder Grass team to deliver a project of this scale.

The project brought with it a sense of thrill, excitement and a great deal of anxiety too, for the Wonder Grass team. This structure was for us fulfillment of a long cherished dream to build large span structures using bamboo as principal material for construction, a demonstration and show-case of structural potential of bamboo to people at large.

The whole process from conception to finish of this bamboo bridge is almost a story with many twists and turn, learning's and unlearning's, challenges-thrills-anxieties-joys of working together and lot more. It would be interesting to put that whole process down and share it those who would like to know.

Some features of the project though are very interesting and inspiring in retrospect. There are some things we could have done better, that i think would be worth mentioning

1. Design conception -

It was an experiment of evolving a design within the artisan team themselves with participation from Vaibhav. The design ideas were sketched, developed, discussed and deliberated upon by the artisan team of Wonder Grass. Each one sat down with a brief to develop a design of a bridge that could be built. The design-ideas were discussed, they understood good points explored in each design and what could-should be avoided.

Two design ideas which the group found made 'sense', something that could probably be built as bridge, were then refined in the form of a model. The models were made to scale. The idea of scale was at first difficult to grasp and understand, but intuitively they took to it.

The models were made and then tested with loading. There was a discussion on two models and how they behaved in loading, what could be done and how we can go about it.

2. Prototyping of Structural components

The bridge threw-onto us challenges in fabrication, transportation and erection of the structural components which were supposed to span large spaces. What was required was to prorotype different components of the structural system, make it to the actual scale, load-test it and on failure explore options.
What really wasnt there for us, time !! we were always in our heels, trying to design a solution for different junctions, developing details and joinery methods.

3. Experimentation for large-span Arched Members:

We had two major challenges in terms of developing a structural components, one is to build an arched member which would be 75ft at the base and rise to almost 25ft at the center. This was to be achieved using bamboo poles, which have varying diameters, wall-thicknesses and curved ones.

(to be continued...)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Traditional Treatment for Bamboo at Wonder Grass

Team Wonder Grass is working to expand the offerings for bamboo based building system. Our latest attempt is to experiment with traditional method of bamboo preservation.

The Bamboo poles are cut to size and kept immersed in a stream for a span of 8-12 weeks. This way, the starch inside the pole is stripped off from the body of the fiber and washed away in the water.

This treatment is commonly practiced method across the Indian subcontinent in villages and bamboo rich regions. 

Team decided to pilot run the method for treatment of the bamboo poles, which we use for fabrication of the building components.

These bamboo poles are going to be used for building of some of our products and building systems. So that we can offer our discerning clients a choice, between a contemporary chemical treatment or traditional treatment system.

Second batch of bamboo poles treated using traditional method of treatment are now out.

The next in the line is to introduce a smoking treatment, which again is traditionally proven method of preservation for bamboo.