Thursday, December 2, 2010

Beach - Front restaurant at Goa

Work at the Farhenite resorts, Goa is coming along well. This is a project where we can showcase bamboo in a more contemporary form than the way it has been used to build beach-shacks in Goa. We are ercting a Bamboo green-wall, a Kitchen and a Dining area.
The Bamboo-wall is almost complete as can be seen in images above. The sloping terrain added to the verity of wall, and created nice stepped-pattern.
Kitchen with a backdrop of palm-trees sits appropriately in the landscape.
The structure s designed and built such that it can be dismantled, stacked every season depending on requirement.

A complete Housing Unit - Typology for Rural areas

Bamboo House is almost complete now, thanks to a proposed visit by a client from Mumbai, that we decided to make it a deadline to complete the house in its totality, along with basic landscape, and other aspects too.
It is to the credit of Ar. Bela, who has recetly joined Wonder Grass team to work as part of Design team, Sandip and Vasanta (artisan at Peth) to complete the house in time for the client visit.
The outcome has been truly exciting for us all. The house feels just like any other house, even though built almost entirely with bamboo, with everyone who is visiting is now talking about and notice finishes, the junction and construction quality, more than house built with bamboo.
This we believe is a good step forward, from being a bamboo house it is moving towards just being a house. Client visit helped us understand what any client will expect if this has to be viewed from a persepctive of a client who wants to 'pay' for the house.
There are areas where we need to improve upon construction system, the gaps and junctions where we still further refnement and development of construction methods. This can very well be termed as first generation house with bamboo, which will evolve as we work further.
The house is now ready for application in the market. If you need one, do let us know!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rural Housing Unit - Progress as on 26 Sept'2009

Rural Housing Typology as develped by Wonder Grass is nearig completion. Here are some of the recent pictures of the internal and extarnal views of the Housing unit.
As we have described in some of our earlier posts, this housing unit is being developed as an incremental system, which means that the technology should allow expansion of the housing unit in an incremental fashion.

The External face has a cement plaster and internal face has a mud plaster.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Product Development - Roofing panels

Roofing Panels - in Bamboo
We are now in the process of developing a new range of panels at our Belgaum center. Udayan,. who is also part of the new team at Wonder Grass is developing a new range of panels which cann potentially be applied for variouos applicatons in a typical urban market.

The roof-panel, we are developing may not really work as full-fledged roofing alternative due to various inherent problems, but can certainly be used in varous other small-scale applications.

Interios Panels - visual barries
We are developing a seperate range of panels which are self-standing, can be movable and are available in some standard lengths. these panels can be used for various applications in and outside the building, from offices, residences, hotels etc.

Workers Housing for AB Rolling Mills, Bhilad

AB Rolling Mills, in village Manda near Bhilad (Gujrath) while proposig to bulding living units for the industrial-workers of their unit, they chose to tread a different path and decided to build bamboo living-units in place of typical concrete block + GI Tin sheet rooms.

Wonder Grass has been working on what can at best be described as semi-permanent housing for workers, artisans and labours staying in premises of Large industrial units, construction project-sites and similar projects spread across the country and many parts of the world.

There are various design solutions available for such housing-living requirements in a European, Middle East or US markets. In Indian context, there is a need to develop products - solutions which will help provide a decent living spaces for artisans and workers. In a typical scenario, the living-units built for workers-artisans, are just a ramshackle arrangement of casuarina poles and GI Sheets. Workers stay in these conditions sometimes for 12-18 months, braving monsoon, heat and winter, with GI sheets proving an accomplice in torment under all weather-conditions.

Bamboo and composite structures can provide for this gap in the demand.

Taking our clues from the modular standardized building systems, we are developing a simple living-unit for the industrial workers, which will be cost-effective and yet give its occupant a better living conditions.

The efforts are on to design system, such that the unit can be assembled and erected on site at ease. On completion of the project, the living-unit can be dismantled and carried to another project site. The idea is that the structure can be used for about 2-3 project-cycles giving a better, while workers enjoy better living-conditions than a typical casuarina + GI sheet unit.

Wonder Grass artisan team could erect the primary structure for about 7 lining-units, each about 200 Sq Ft built-up area, in a span of 15 days while monsoon is still in full-swing. One of the sample-units is already finished.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wonder Grass on the cusp of new beginning

Work on the first phase of the construction of large-span inverted arch is nearing completion. Simultaneously we are working on a vaulted structure which is also coming along well.

The whole process of constructing a single structural member of 80 feet span has been exciting. It has helped us develop some simple but very interesting ‘systems’ that help us construct a large structural member. Development and construction of a curved element of arch, using multiple bamboo-poles, as can be seen in the images.

Another structure that we are developing is also part of the same project. This is proposed to a vaulted roofing system which is approximately 40 feet in span. We have started putting together the ribs, which will finally support the woven-bamboo surface on the top. (image).

This has been a good start. We take this opportunity to thank our clients, specially Architects Ashok B laal, Delhi and IGH (initiatives for Green Habitats), Bangalore to have put faith in the capabilities of Wonder Grass to deliver the building system to their requirement.

The Barn Roof Vault

This is part of the first phase of the project, where we would be prototyping the primary structural element, assemble a full-scale mock-up and conduct preliminary structural tests to check how it performs under various loading conditions.

There are two different structures that we are working on, both have different design and construction requirements.

We intend to complete the construction of a mock-up of the vaulted structure towards the end of this month. The second step is to conduct basic structural tests on the full-scale mock-up of both these systems, inverted arch (80 feet clear span) and Ribbed-vault (40 feet span). Design of structural tests is going to be a ‘project’ in itself. In case of the 80 feet span inverted-arch, the dead-load of the roofing system on top (proposed ‘Galv-Al’ sheets) is negligible, but then the wind-loads will be considerable. What we are working on, is to find a way to test these systems under windy conditions.

The project has given us an opportunity to build large span structural systems using bamboo as primary building material. This has given Wonder Grass team a confidence in its abilities for providing and erecting large span built-spaces.

Deriving from these primary forms and construction-systems we can look at developing building-applications for use in urban environs. We are looking to get the first complete prototype up and test the same towards the end of month of July, learn from the tests and refine the structural system for enhanced performance.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bamboo Roof Raising

We have raised our roof structure over our bamboo house and seen how it will perform as the house begins it's completion. We are happy with the performance, and find it to be rather user friendly with only 4 to 5 persons required for it's assembly. It is rather light, since it is bamboo, another advantage of the "wonder grass."
The assembly time for such a roof structure is rather short and simple to erect. All the pieces are attached with nuts and bolts,
well as bamboo plywood. As of of now, we are not using any pieces
of wood for structure, only for windows and doors. This is a plus because if this house had been made of wood, the combined years that are required to have the material ready would be 20+ years, and if this had been of brick mortar and cement, the time it take to create the materials would be vastly more. Our main mission in this housing project is affordability, and user friendly construction. We have found
through our rural surveys that nothing is more important than
affordability, and the ability for the user to assemble it themselves.
On top of that list is durability, which we will see when the monsoon
rains come.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Our design center at our Nagpur campus has started to house our designers ideas, and as the summer rains come, it will be a welcome environment safe from the heat. We are quite happy with the way it turned out, and the two low-seating tables plus the drafting table make it a nice area to occupy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wonder Grass's small scale operations

Wonder Grass artisans have started to fill our design studio with some great furniture. With the help of our American designer we have combined the craftsmanship of the Shaker style from the east coast of the United States with that of the time test skill of the Indian artisans working with bamboo. We will have some great chairs completed in the next week, and our design studio as well as meeting area will be complete to house our innovation.
Below are some good photos of some of the chair. Just a sample of some of the fine work we have done.

Although this is not what Wonder Grass does

as a main product line, we can understand
bamboo as a scale that we use everyday.
Additionally, we pride our selves on using bamboo to the maximum efficiency possible, being the replacement of wood.
We will have photos of some great work coming our way soon. Our arch is coming along good, and the housing project is receiving it's first two wall, we just hope we can make it in time for the monsoon season.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wonder Grass Becomes Finalist for Sankalp Social Enterprise Awards & Investment Forum

The Sankalp 2010 Awards and Investment Forum is an annual Intellecap initiative committed to catalyzing entrepreneurship in the social enterprise space. Sankalp actively facilitates collaboration between established and budding entrepreneurs, investors, thought leaders and sector stakeholders interested in contributing effectively towards this fledgling yet fast-growing industry.

Wonder Grass has become one of three finalist for the Technology for Development sector of the Sankalp 2010 forum. Wonder Grass Ceo Vaibhav Kaley will be presenting the work and spirit that makes Wonder Grass at the annual forum held in Mumbai. The jury will announce the winners shortly after the presentations and a prize and publicity will follow. Below is the link to the finalist and sectors being awarded this year. We all hope for the best and give congratulations to our fellow nominees.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Wonder Grass Receives Some Special Recognition

Wonder Grass (Low-cost housing) soaring temperatures and streams running dry in Nagpur do not deter Vaibhav and Nachiket Kaley from expecting their business to yield a rich harvest. The Kaley brothers are betting on a master plan, where bamboo becomes the cure for all ills in India’s housing sector.

Two years ago, Vaibhav, 33, an interior designer, along with his brother Nachiket, 28, an IT professional, decided to follow in the footsteps of their father, Vinoo Kaley, known as the ‘bamboo man’ and set up Wonder Grass, to provide low-cost housing options using bamboo as the main construction material. The walls of the houses are sometimes plastered with cow dung and mud to give a cemented look. The structures, the brothers claim, can withstand mild earthquakes and cyclones and are good options for coastal areas. “The time has come for bamboo. The market is opening up for sustainable living solutions,” says Vaibhav, director, Wonder Grass.

So far, they have done well. Turnover has trebled, while profits have increased manyfold too. The company has revenue targets of Rs 20-25 crore in a 8-10 year timeframe. They already have a bamboo auditorium project for an educational institution at the Andhra Pradesh-Orissa border and a housing project in Vapi.

With a marketing office in Bangalore and assembly line operations in Nagpur and Belgaum, the firm is looking at scaling up operations and will soon have 100 artisans working for them. To retain manpower, the Kaleys set aside 20 per cent of equity in a trust that will share profits with the workforce.

A low cost of Rs 400-450 per sq. ft, as against Rs 650 per sq. ft for a low-cost brick-mortar dwelling can be a driving factor for the bamboo houses.

Prasad Sangameshwaran

This article can be seen on the following link on the "Business World" website:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Prototype Housing Begins!

We have just finished our foundation for the first Wonder Grass bamboo house that is a model for the rural Indian citizen. We will construct phase 1 and complete it by the end of May, ready for the monsoon season to hit us. The plan is a simple one, but we have put a lot of careful considerations into it, that makes it rather complex coming from a designers point view. We have a main room roughly 12ft x 15ft that will serve as the main living/sleeping area for a small family or couple living in a rural setting. Off of that we have a 12ft x 6ft veranda that serves as the entry. Traditional Indian homes ranging in the central region, have hip roof slanting down towards the entry to shield against monsoon season as well as create a vertical threshold that visually heightens the view while walking in the house. Designing a house that will hopefully reach thousands if not millions in some years, the needs and priorities of such a project needs to start with what a rural Indian see's as a basic home for themselves. Several factors determine what needs a rural house should address, however the most important is durability. For the last 80+ years the Indian rural home has been constructed out of brick, mortar, and cement. This has led to a changing attitude towards housing. We have organized surveys to understand this perception, and we understand that introducing a bamboo structure into a cement lifestyle will not work unless there keys issues addressed. Durability, there must be a instinctual feeling from just looking at the house, that it will last for a full generation. Secondly, there must be a sense that there is low maintenance. Brick and mortar homes or cement boxes need little maintenance unless there is dirt on the floors, or an earthquake occurs. Otherwise, people have adjusted to living in essentially, large prison blocks. And thirdly,it needs to be cheap. This can sometimes be hard when building with bamboo, but we at Wonder Grass have been able to save money be implementing ms joints, improving structural members as well as adjusting size requirements per stage in the expansion of the house. The brick and cement plinth rises from level ground about 18in above grade and we insert the bamboo columns directly into the plinth. They are surrounded by cement, and will never be removed. We erected our first wall on the north wall, and it was in two parts, because our plan is to have prefabricated parts made at our building centers, and then transported to the work site to be erected. This saves time and decreases labor costs. Our wall system will comprise of some less then mainstream methods thought up by our design team. The system is designed to accommodate future structural expansion. The will make the house grow out and up. Growing out is easier then going up, especially with bamboo. Our system has been explained many times in past posts, but it never hurts to describe the expansion. Those "V" members you see on the end beams will have pieces that can be replaced with other longer members that can support columns for the first floor on the exterior load bearing walls. This is a trial or prototype house so we will learn as go, and hopefully create as many solutions to the problems faced. We have done similar construction techniques likes these before on our projects in Wardha housing cluster project, as well as several other projects spear headed by Vinoo Kaley in the 90's. The right moves take by our design team are using joint systems that have never been used to ou knowledge in the world for bamboo. We have tested them, and are currently underway mass producing them to compliment our project.
We also have underway a project that is really taking off with some great results. We have recently taken on a project of building a 80ft long bamboo inverted arch.
This arch will reach a span of 80ft. will be made in two parts. Each part being approximelty 40ft in length. We have started to push our projects out of small scale structures into some really large extreme assemblies of bamboo that can be seen with some selective works around the world. Wonder Grass really wants to see the limits of our artisans and bamboo compliment each other to make India a great showcase for bamboo building. More to come, check back when we have the rest of the walls up and the arch complete!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Structural Testing Results In

With the kind of help of Geo-Tech Industries we have completed our results for the structural testing of bamboo building parts. We now have a quite extensive record for all of our structural pieces which will help us prepare for our housing proto-type housing projects. We tested our members with qualified structural engineers present, as well as appropriate technology that Geotech was able to have us use while there. We are again grateful for their assistance. We found the results to be quite fascinating and matched our presumptions before hand. l

As we progress further with some of our other projects we will
be using the results to make sure that our designs work and
don't fall down.

This is assisted by two student interns from a civil engineering
college in Bangalore. They stayed there for some time, in the

work site in Peth. Nagaraj, and Kiran gave their time and help
in analyzing the structural parts before hand, and verified it
at Geo Tech Industries.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A visit to Auroville Bamboo research Center

One of our interns from America was able to visit and meet several great centers around southern India that shared in the passion of bamboo. One great center was the bamboo research center at Auroville community located near Pondicherry, India. Auroville was started some 40+ years ago, and in that time they have made some really great structures, as well as innovations from bamboo. I had the pleasure of talking to one of the site workers, and even though my tamil was as good as his english we still were able to talk about bamboo and what each other has done. The articles and furniture was great quality, and some things we have not seen before. There was a great innovation of bamboo soap that had an amazingly fresh smell, and I'm sure it would feel great on the skin. The soap was made of powdered bamboo charcoal, and I assum mixed with oils, and other organic non-toxic cleaning chemicals.
As you can see in the picture below is the charcoal is kept in a barrel and heat is continually circulating through, so as not to ignite, but keep it warm enough to burn out all of the impurities. Something we at Wonder Grass feel is a great idea.
The American pavilion at Auroville also had a great structure that was a composite building with cement on the ground floor, and bamboo terrace-top with bamboo as it's reinforcement. This structure was a really good example how to use bamboo with other materials such as cement, and wood, as well as fiberglass and ferro-cement. The nice aesthetic feel of bamboo is that it is light-weight and makes a building structure seem graceful and attractive without weighing it down with heavy columns like cement structures do. It had a wonderful feel and
gave the occupant a nice view from all directions.
It is constantly a nice reminder that there are other people in the world and India that do great work and continually try to push into the serious building areas. Something that is not easy to do at all.
We hope to create an online directory or network primarily for people in India but also surrounding countries, so that progress, business, and implementation of bamboo can be sped up with more collaboration and cross communication between many fields, for example, college students to working designers who use bamboo. We hope to have that up and running in months time.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Statistical Analysis of Rural Survey

We have concluded the survey of rural Indian citizens for use in our research for the rural housing prototype. The above picture shows the current living conditions in respect to building materials of the persons interviewed for the survey. Overwhelmingly the majority of citizens live in brick and cement homes. With brick and mud coming behind and after that bamboo+composite and mud come in last.

We also conducted a study of current uses for bamboo in the rural sector and found that bamboo was used not only for housing., but furniture, curtains, and doors and window. This gave us a perception of the used and acceptable limits that people believe bamboo can do.

General Information About Housing in India


(Rs. in Million)



No. of House Holds in India (in Million)


Stock of Houses in India (Million)


a. Stock of Rural Houses


b. Stock of Urban Houses


c. Constructed under Indira Awas Yojna


Type of Houses Occupied

a. Pucca Houses (Million)


b. Semi Pucca (Million)


c. Kuccha (Million)


Housing Shortage (Million)


a. Rural Houses (Million)


b. Urban Houses (Million)


Cost Distribution Ratio of Various

Components in Building Construction

a. Materials


b. Labour


Of those surveyed 32% were below the poverty level in India.