As architecture graduates from CEPT in India, we were fascinated by the potential of bamboo as a sustainable material in design and construction sector.
In 2003, the seeds for Giant Grass were sowed when we engaged with tribal communities in India exploring the potential of bamboo as a sustainable material to enhance their livelihood. We adopted a strengths-based development approach by first observing existing strengths in terms of traditional designs and skills, to inform what needs to be retained and where there was a need for value-addition by design. We dedicate our journey into the bamboo world building on the skills we learnt from Indian tribal community.
After our moving to Australia 2004 for further studies, we wanted to continue our work with bamboo but were faced with some challenges. Firstly, there was limited knowledge and skills around building with bamboo in Australia and secondly, most people considered bamboo as non-native species and a weed, which is not true. Working with bamboo also presented challenges in terms of no regulated standards or manuals to follow for good design and technology. At this time bamboo was gaining in popularity across the world and there was growing interest in learning about bamboo construction. We developed a plan to facilitate bamboo workshops to realise our designs thus fulfilling our dream of continuing to explore the potential of bamboo.
In 2008, Giant Grass was formally setup as a company. As parents of young children, we developed eco-friendly toy cars made from bamboo and launched a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016.
By 2020, over 15 years of having facilitated numerous workshops with a range of community groups, we realised that the true impact of our work was in the collaborative process. We really enjoyed working with people helping them shape them environment through participatory design and construction. Although, bamboo played a major role in our development finally we realised it is only a means and not an end.