Author – Romni Kondeti
The traditional ways of building houses with mud, stone and wood have been quickly replaced by bricks, cement and steel. This excessive use of these building materials and the artificial means of cooling are causing enormous harm to the environment. Considering these issues, there is an urgent need for finding alternative housing and building products.
The current boom in the Indian construction industry has posed many challenges due to some unsustainable aspects of the highly polluting and exhaustive nature of building materials. At the same time, it has also created opportunities for innovative and unconventional resources to emerge due to the widening gap in demand and supply of building materials, as well as the need for energy-efficient and economical methods of construction.
Bamboo has been intensively utilized as a building material since ancient times. However, due to western architectural influences, this sturdy building material got sidelined over years. Although India is the second-largest producer of bamboo in the world, there is a lack of awareness of its uses in building houses or home furnishings. This void has led a few entrepreneurs and organizations in India to promote and provide bamboo houses and handicrafts for everyday use as a substitute. They have adopted several innovative techniques that could sustain the environment by imbibing traditional and natural methods along with modern technology for building houses.
Bamboo houses are simple to construct, consume less time and are eco-friendly as well. Despite the odds, bamboo-based building materials are slowly penetrating into the mainstream housing market and modern homes. Here are some of India’s leading organizations and entrepreneurs who are using bamboo for housing and home furnishing purposes:
Centre for Green Building Material
The Centre for Green Building Material (CGBMT) is the oldest organization that was established in Bangalore to promote bamboo as a building material. CGBMT is an initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Rural Development under the Rural Housing Network for adopting green technology, working on bamboo for construction purposes. This organization works intensively on bamboo and its application in the construction sector.
CGBMT also offers short-term courses on bamboo technology to promote the technology know how among young minds. Some of the successful projects carried out by the CGBMT so far are: bamboo security shelters for Dayalbagh University, Guest houses inside DEI Campus and prototype shelter for Tsunami victims in Bannerghatta National Park near Bengaluru.
Bamboo House India
Bamboo House India was established in 2008 by a young couple named Prashant Lingam and Aruna Kappagantula. Initially, they started with designing bamboo based furniture and eventually ventured into building houses with the motive of solving the problem of expensive housing. They have built around 60 houses in and around Hyderabad with prices starting from INR1 lakh.
Due to the low cost and easy availability of materials in villages, Prashant and Aruna took forward their mission to rural areas of Nizamabad district in Telangana and Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh, and have expanded its venture to other states like Maharashtra. Bamboo House India is not only limited to housing, but also handle other projects for resorts, marriage halls, schools and toilets. In addition to their accolades, they have successfully designed interiors for software companies like Google and Infosys to name a few.
Wonder Grass is a Nagpur-based company that works on the concept of standardized living units using bamboo. Its main mission is to support skilled artisans, achieve cost effectiveness for the green building technology, and encourage farmers to revive the traditional practice of building houses with bamboo. Some of the company’s products are: treated bamboo poles, various panels designed to meet different climatic needs, Build It Yourself kits for numerous uses, QUB-A-Cottage in a box, that are fabricated and easy to assemble building type for multipurpose use from home to office and interior accessories.
After thorough research, Wonder Grass came up with a housing project called ‘B-Hive’ for workers housing solution. This project is mainly designed for construction workers living on large real estate projects, mining fields and other industries. This project enables living units warmer in winter and cooler in summer. These modular units are easily dismountable, reusable, non-corrosive, withstands extreme weather conditions and are coated with fire-retardant chemicals.
Godrej Interio, India’s largest furniture brand has come up with a new concept called “going green with bamboo furniture”. This undertaking advocates the company’s policy of sustainability by delivering bamboo-based products. Godrej Interio’s green living and eco-friendly products comprise dining table sets, study tables, display units, racks, computer tables, coffee tables and nesting tables. The furniture made of bamboo are available all across Godrej outlets in India with prices starting from INR5,000 to INR71,000.
Tripura Cane & Bamboo Handicrafts
Tripura, situated in North Eastern India, is blessed with abundance of bamboo, which forms a vital part of not only the state’s economy, but also its social structure. The art of making cane and bamboo craft cuts across all religion and ethnicity. The government-owned organization Tripura Cane and Bamboo Handicrafts provides exceptional varieties of cane and bamboo handcrafts made by different tribes in the state.
The organization has been able to come up with 200 different exquisite products created by about 10,000 skilled artisans, which are exported outside the country as well. The range of products marketed are: bamboo furniture like cane sofa sets, chairs, panels, partitions, and baskets, bamboo mats, bags, lamp shades, containers, baskets, utensils and accessories.