2017 / Design For Society / Eco-Sustainable Design / Professional

Bamboo & Rattan Crutch for Africa

  • Prizes
    Silver in Design for Society/Design for Society, Gold in Design for Society/Eco-Sustainable Design
  • Lead Designer
    Fei Kong
  • Project Link

The Bamboo and Rattan Crutch is specially
designed to address mobility issues in Africa and
Asia by giving people the power to easily
construct crutches with sustainable, local
material.
This project was born when I broke my leg. During
my recovery process, I realized that typical metal
crutches are neither comfortable nor sustainable.
During my material research for redesigning
sustainable crutches I found that there is a strong
need for crutches in third world countries
(especially African countries) due to birth defects,
accidental maiming, landmines, various parasites,
etc. Charities and organizations are trying to help
by shipping used crutches to areas of need, but it
costs a lot of effort and money to collect and
transport crutches.
In light of this need, I came up with the idea to
use local material to produce low cost, easily
constructed crutches that are accessible to
impoverished inhabitants of third world countries.
Rattan and bamboo are two stalks that grow
hollow and strong. Bamboo when harvested
becomes a very sturdy material while Rattan, a
thinner stalk, remains relatively flexible. Both
Bamboo and Rattan are fast growing, easy to
produce, and low-cost crops, which makes them
accessible and sustainable materials. Rattan
stalks are formed around a mould using steam,
dried, and then inserted into the bamboo base.
Discarded bicycle tire inner tube, a non-
biodegradable elastic material that is abundant in
impoverished areas, is used as an adjustable
stopper on the body of the crutch and a grip on
the cap of the crutch.
This crutch is simple and cheap to produce, easily
adjustable, comfortable to use, lightweight and
stable. Producing this crutch could not only help
those with mobility needs, but also promote local
commerce in third world countries.

Other prizes
Winner of Red dot Award Design concept 2013

Photo Credit: Fei Kong