Monday, December 29, 2008

Post-Flood Rehabilitation and Wonder Grass

Kosi region in the Northern-Bihar faced a severe flood disaster in 2007. As many as 1 million families were displaced, divastation followed.

Massive relief operation carried out by the Govt. of Bihar in partnership with various government and non-government agencies is considered a milestone in handling relief operations on such a huge scale.

The relief is followed by Rehabilitation. The rehabilitation process in the aftermath of a disaster is long-drawn and painstaking process.

In the Floods, it is estimated that as many as 0.35 million housing units are damaged and need reconstruction. Building these many houses in the span of next 2-3 years is a staggering challenge for the state-government, for institutions involved and more so for the people for whom the houses are to be built.

A workshop 'Owner-driven Rehabilitation' was organized by Government of Bihar in partnership with ODR Collective, a group of individuals and institutions who work extensively for Disaster-rehabilitation. The focus of the workshop was to explore systems, strategies and mechanisms that would eventually ensure a rehabilitation process that would provide for shelter and livelihood opportunity to a large section of society.

Wonder Grass initiative was invited to participate in the workshop and provide inputs and suggestions on the subject.

Mr. Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister for Bihar, who has shown some considerable leadership in executing efficient relief operation, is now taking a next logical step for initiating a Rehabilitation program on the massive scale.

His presence and direct interest in the proceedings of the workshop was crucial in setting the pace and focus of the workshop.

DUring his inaugral address he touched upon a very important factor of rehabilitation, that is of the Building-material resource, and Bamboo as one of the key-building material resource when it comes to Kosi region.

Bamboo is naturally available in the region, and there is a long tradition of building bamboo houses in the region. The skills are available aplenty and Material is available in abundance. What probably needed is a political will combined with sustained institutional effort to implement bamboo based housing systems on large scale.

Wonder Grass initiative was represented by Vaibhav Kaley.

As one of the few action points, it is discussed that we need to build some technology demonstration structures using bamboo as primary building system, and then take this technology to the people at large.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Terrace-Top Structure for Mango Technologies, Bangalore

Terrace-top structure:
The structure is 16'-0" X 35'-0",
it is a semi-open structure designed as an informal and relaxation space for corporate office of Mango Technologies, Bangalore.

The structural system is based on a modular standardized format that we have developed at Wonder Grass. All the basic building components like Columns, Trusses, beams and Purlions were brought to the site prefabricated and in knocked-down form.

The truss assembled on site and erected as per the structural-grid requirement of site.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wonder Grass completes one year in operations

  1. Progress of Work over one year of operations
    October 2007 to October 2008

    Citations and awards:

    1. Wonder Grass was awarded 2nd prize in the start-up category of BiD-India challenge 2007.
    2. Wonder Grass has been selected for Incubation support from NS Raghavan center for Entrepreneurial Learning, IIM-Bangalore.
    3. Wonder Grass is selected for participation in Social Entrepreneur development program 2008-2009, organized by social impact group Hyderabad.

    Within the span of first six months, we could process and complete following project-proposals
    Anand Niketan school, Ahmedabad
    Supply of treated and Seasoned bamboo, BCIL Bangalore.
    Extension to existing roofing at NS Raghavan Farm-house, Hosur.
    Extension for terrace-top house at T-Zed apartments, Bangalore.

    Driving spirit at Wonder Grass.

    Our design team headed by Vaibhav Kaley and assisted by Ravi Kamble kept working on developing a structural system and a complete building-solution which would be a standardized, modular and ready-to-assemble in nature.

    We developed the first sketch-proposal in April-May. We developed and generated computer models, actual models to understand the way system will behave in real. We then made some prototype of columns, truss to its actual size with the Ms-plate joinery complete.

    We made the first prototype at Peth in june’08. we could bring the whole system to some perfection. It still needs a lot of work before it can be said to be a system ready for mass-application.

    The system has evolved to a point where it can certainly be implemented and tested in the actual scale. The next step is to do a pilot-run of the systems in real life situation and refine it further.

    The last 3 months we have been concentrating our energies on design-development of two ‘Ready-to-Build’ building-solutions for a standard housing unit and a module for Staff-quarters for construction-workers.

    We have developed both the systems and is ready for application. The next step is to pilot run this system and refine it further to take it into market on large-scale.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

We are one year old today

Happy Barthday Wonder Grass!!!!

One year in operations – October 2’ 2007 – October 2’ 2008.

Wonder Grass is precisely one-year old today. It was the 2nd october’2007 that we initiated the activities of Wonder Grass in a formal way.

We were partly lucky that we could actually start working from out first office at Bangalore from 2nd October, officially, and so we decided that may be this is the most appropriate day to start with.

The date of 2nd Cotober, has a very symbolic significance to what we have started out to develop as an enterprise or a venture under the name of ‘Wonder Grass’.

The vision is to bring bamboo based building systems in the mainstream of construction industry. This will ensure that the building-industry will have an option or a choice of using a building-material that is sustainable, ecologically sound which also creates spectrum of economic opportunities for a wide spectrum of society, specially in the rural and semi-urban areas.

This will in part ensure some movement of money to the rural economy.

One more reason why we believe that 2nd October probably is a fitting coincidence, is that we believe in the spirit of innovation. Innovation ins every aspect of the enterprise and all the dimensions of the enterprise, some are tangible some intangible.

Mahatma Gandhi, we think was and still is one of the very creative and innovative individuals in the Indian history. From political strategies, spiritual discourses, socio-economic movements, lifestyle adoption, he constantly innovated.

The spirit was to continuously evolve, to look at the situations from a fresh perspective, the problem was an opportunity to put in action yet another of the innovations in practice. There was at the same time openness to change, to except the failure and work on it to refine and evolve.

This is the spirit which if Wonder Grass as team, organization could inculcate and internalize will make our journey a lot more wonderful and interesting.

We shall take a look at the progress of Wonder Grass in the last one year in the subsequent post.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Kopai-Resort project - presentation stage

Visit to Kopai resort project-site was really interesting. Presentation to the client-team went well and client in principal has given a go-ahead for the project.

The project has been split into two phases, this gives us flexibility in terms of allocating the resources in developing part of the premise completely and bring it into operations, and then we move onto the remaining part of project.

phase-I = It involves construction of 4 individual cottages, 8-guest-rooms, part of the elevated path-way which connects all the rooms, Common-amenities block which has Kitchen-Restaurant-Administration and Reception facility.

phase-II = It involves construction of 8-guest rooms, common amenities like parking structures, gazebo's, Waste-water treatment, landscaping, water-harvesting structures etc.

The Phase distribution of project-cost is
phase-I = 75 Lakh Rs.
phase -II = 30 Lakh Rs.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kopai Resort near Shantiniketan

Design Proposal
Kopai-resort is an interesting project which we are currently working on. The resort is proposed by a small motivated group of professionals headed by Mr. Sunil Oberoi. Mr. Sunil Oberoi has a keen interest in communities, settlements and various aspects of Rural India.

Kopai resort is proposed at Bolpur, not more than 5 kms from Shantiniketan, Calcutta. The surrounding of the site is pictureque and the place is a tourist-attraction as it is so near to Shantiniketan, place which is world-famous for being the birth-place of Gatanjali.

Our concept for the resort is well-captured in the following one-liner,
" Sustainable in nature, Responsible in approach and Meaningful in its experience."

The overall built-up area is about 12000 Sq.ft. we are working on developing some two-story structures as Guest-rooms using bamboo. one of the concepts being explored is to connect the guest rooms using a elevated pathway which in itself becomes a kind of element on the resort-site.

The site has lots of reference points to pick from and work with, Shantiniketan-Ravindranath Tagore, the crafts and arts of Ballabhpur Danga, temple architecture of Bishnupur. It would be a challenging exercise how we are able to assimilate these references and build using bamboo as primary building material.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Today on the 15th of August, when Tri-colour is flowing with all its grace and beauty and a sense of celebration is everywhere to be seen; at Wonder Grass are leafing through the pages of the writings of Shri. Aurobindo, who shares his birthday with that of the modern India.

Shri. Aurobindo who could understand and articulate the idea of Nation and ideal of nationalism, in a way very few before him or after him have been able to do (rather only some that would be counted on fingers), may help us try and situate our initiative and enterprise in a larger context of India as nation.

AS we leaf through his writings and musings, we invariably draw vigor and vitality which is so important for us to cruise further and achieve our vision for Wonder Grass, without feeling weak or helpless.

His take on the nationalist provides us a very powerful idea of what is the need of the hour, the way we should be if we want to build Wonder Grass and achieve its vision for bamboo,

“The Profession of nationalist should not be lightly made but with full sense of what it means and involves. The privilege of taking it is attended with severe pains and penalties for those who take it lightly. If we are few, it matters little, but it is of supreme importance that the stuff of which we are made should be sound. What the mother needs is hard clear steel for her sword, hard massive granite for her fortress, wood that will not break for the handle of her bow, tough substance and true for the axle of her chariot. For the battle is near and trumpet ready for the signal.”

A Call to the Youth of India, Shri. Aurobindo

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Living-spaces for Construction Artisans

Wonder Grass, in its quest for developing building systems and solutions which are applicable for mass-scale is now developing a solution for Construction workers and artisans who spend close to 2-3 years on project-site and then move on to another project-site.

A common experience tell us that (on most of the project-sites) the conditions for these workers are neither healthy nor very pleasing. The colonies where these artisans live, are not places to live and stay but only place to cover your head when its hot, raining or windy.

One feels dumbfounded at the apathy and utter ignorance from the construction industry for the very fundamental building-block of the whole industry, the construction artisan himself.

And more interesting is the fact that nobody seems to be really bothered or thinking about it.

we at Wonder Grass asked, why? can we find a solution that will be able to provide a better living place for a construction artisan.

And we believe that we are nearing the solution. The solution is not only to be found in the design and innovative use of materials to arrive at elegant, efficient and cost-effective building system, but it also needs a rethinking from all the stakeholders of the construction industry most crucial of which are the construction-companies and the clients of these construction companies, to look at the situation more empathetically.

Wonder Grass is ready with a solution and a will to explore and develop the solution further as we move along, we are looking for partners from industry who are willing to participate with us in the process.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ready-to-assemble structural system

The work on modular structure has led us to develop, prototype and test the structural system which would come as a kit-of-parts that could be easily transportable and assembled on site with relative ease.

Ravi has put in lot of work to make this idea of modular structure a possibility. we understand that this is the first attempt and it will go through a series of refinements for it to become a really good product.

The first prototype is already in place at our workshop in Peth, Nagpur. Master artisan Prashant and Naresh bhau joined hands to complete the prototype against odds and difficulties. Vasantha made sure that we also have precast RCC pedestals to go along.

The work happening on the design and development of a modular building system in encouraging and exciting for all of us at Wonder Grass. we believe that if we continue working and developing it further we can certainly improve it immensely.

We are already processing initial inquiries with couple of enthusiastic clients.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Modular Structure
Works on the proposed modular structure is progressing well. we have been working on the joinary system using 2mm MS plate which will simplify and bring in a kind of standardization in the system.

Our project at T-Zed proved that the circular plate compliments well with the tubular form of bamboo and can evolve into a system with multiple permutation-combination.

Module size we have derived is 12' X 8', this came along keeping in mind the available roofing sheet size, the paneling sheet sizes like cement composite boards, the Bamboo Mat boards etc.

The efforts are on so as to attain dimensional coordination amongst the individual components of the module as well. The idea is that standardization in the component will simplify fabrication process as well it will bring efficiency in the prodiction.

The development of a modular structure which is capable of evolving into multiple building application in probably only the first step, and relatively simple one. The critical task is making this Kit into a 'Product'.

Structure; A Kit parts - Ready to Assemble
The approach we have is to treat this as a 'product'. Product is something which is available off-the-shelve, it is generic in nature and have multiple application within the broad field of applications.
The Kit we are proposing is also aimed to provide building solutions across the segments. The sectors we are hoping to target with this particular kit are

1. Terrace top extensions and additions
2. Sit-outs and semi-open spaces in weekend retreats, farm houses
3. Gazebo's, Green houses in Resorts and hospitality spaces

1. Construction companies like L&T, Sobha, GMR etc for the construction-workers quarters.
2. Semi-permanent housing for disaster affected regions.
3. Kiosks in rural and semi-urban areas, which have life span of 1-2 years.

We are working to erect first prototype structure towards the end of this month. The idea is to have a 4 day session where we would invite potential buyers.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Roofing structure at Farm house

Roof structure addition at the farmhouse, Bagluru

Client: Mr. NS Raghavan
Architect: Ar. Nilay Patalia

A roofing structure was added above an existing polycarbonate roof at the farmhouse, in Jain farms, Bagluru. The primary purpose of the structure was to cut-off extra light and heat that was coming through polycarbonate roofing and to act as a screen.

The salient features of this structure are,
1. We have been able to achieve relatively large spans of 27 feet using lattice bamboo beam. The beam is not carrying any live or dynamic load on top, yet to be able to sustain a self-weight and some dead-load of the panels, its performing really well.

2. The Panels, which primarily act as screen have come out pretty well in terms of its quality of construction.

3. The Work was completed in the span of 18 days, from the day of arrival of material on site.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Wonder Grass is an Entrepreneurial initiative that strives to bring Bamboo based building system in the mainstream of construction-industry. The aim is to provide a complete ‘End-to-end’ solution to a consumer in ‘One-stop-shop’ format, making it an easy and enjoyable experience to build with bamboo.

Wonder Grass is conceived to;
+ Scale-up the operations and cater to large volumes,
+ Provide on-call, efficient ‘Building-services’ and ingenious ‘Building-products’
+ Achieve Cost-effective and competent Building-technology with bamboo.

Wonder-Grass, a novel venture proposes to bridge the gap between the Demand for Building-systems (Dwelling-units) and Building material resource, Bamboo.

An ‘Enterprise’, which will put in place a whole set of backward and forward linkages that will address and provide for the housing-needs of rural and urban India, enabling and ensuring the most appropriate use of bamboo, as building material.