Steel A Multifaceted Material

Structural steel is very flexible which can be moulded into any shape, without changing its properties and can be converted into sheets or turned into wires as per the design requirement. It is relatively cheap compared to other building materials. It also accelerates the construction process unlike any other conventional material, says, Ar. Ayan Sen, Principal Architect, Ayan Sen Architects

What are the major advantages of using steel vis-à-vis conventional materials?
Advantage of structural steel is that it is tensile in nature and has high strength to weight ratio and is also quite durable. In large structure, the steel sections will be small and lightweight, unlike other conventional materials. Steel can be easily fabricated and produced massively.

Steel sections can be produced off-site at shop floors and then assembled onsite. This saves time and increases the efficiency of the overall construction process. Structural steel structures can withstand external pressure such as earthquakes, thunderstorms, and cyclones.

How structural steel can be innovatively used in construction to provide design aesthetics and at the same time offer economical solution?
Structural steel is very flexible which can be moulded into any shape, without changing its properties and can be converted into sheets or turned into wires as per the design requirement. It is relatively cheap compared to other building materials. It also accelerates the construction process unlike any other conventional material.

What is your take on the variety of sections/grades provided by our steel producers for various demands of creativity?
The geometry of the project visually interfaces the curved roof, and the cuboid form of the restaurant block. These two geometrics of the curve and the cuboids essentially express the philosophy of the built (cuboids) and the curve (nature). As per structural requirements we have used underwritten sections: (SHS) 113.5 x113.5 x 5.4 THK., (SHS) 113.5 x113.5 x 5.4 THK., (SHS) 50 x 50 x 3.6 THK. (SHS) 113.5 x113.5 x 5.4 THK., (RHS) 200 x100 x 5.0 THK., (RHS) 200 x100 x 5.0 THK.

What trend are we going to witness in next 5-7 years, as far as designing structures with steel is concerned?
We feel the shortage of labor and demand for accuracy will instigate as per steel’s cost activity, and accurate system. For creative projects, where roof system has large spans or innovative shapes need support structure, rather than conventional system, steel can really help in this case. In large number of infrastructural projects, railway systems, nodal hub, transit hub, Industrial units etc., steel construction is better and cost friendly rather than conventional system.

What should be the strategy of industry in promoting structural steel construction in India?
The strategy should be to have more trade shows, magazine publication etc. to create awareness surrounding the country.

Which are the iconic steel-specific projects executed by you?
I have used in many projects, but the best among them are the two projects:

  • The Bengal rowing Club, Rabindra sarobor, Kolkata
  • Industry Building at Salap, Howrah, West Bengal

The Bengal rowing Club, Rabindra Sarobor, Kolkata

The brief of the project given was to create a signature element in this historic club that would make the pool side area much more attractive. The initial thought process was to make a form that response to the larger context which is an ecologically sensitive landscaped area of south Kolkata. This large mega public space has several clubs among which BRC being one of the most famous one. The characteristics of the project intended to have both an iconic as well as statement feature, and at the same time be sensitively amalgamated with the context.

The simplicity is what makes the project profound. The curved steel cantilever provides counterweight at either side beyond the column. The Vierendeel girder in form of a rectilinear box which is supported by six columns is independent to the curved canopy. Projects can be big or small, but a comprehensive set of issues were handled in these projects. Revitalization and conservation, façade development, sustainable design (Platinum rated green building certification was achieved by this club), iconic forms can be sensitive and responsive to the context. The project was truly an opportunity for our design practice to make a statement feature for both club as well as the city. The public space under the bird winged canopy increases the footfall for the members both old and young.

The tea blending facility on the national highway near Kolkata evokes an extraordinary contemporary character in an industrial design with hues of grey terracotta. Located in an industrial zone of Kolkata, MJIL represents the ultimate climatological considerations in design through its tilted windows toward south. The cross ventilation inside is enhanced through reversing the position of ventilators in south and north direction. The metal jaalis enhancing the Venturi’s effect on the southern façade of the offices located in front area of whole building are nicely reducing the air conditioning load required. Steel has been innovatively used to construct large span modular construction and the shaded canopy. The focus was driven toward climatic consideration such as ventilation and rain water harvesting systems.