Ar. Sachin Bandukwala, Principal, BandukSmith Studio

QMajor advantages of using steel via-a-vis a conventional material?

The biggest advantage is that steel can be fabricated at one place and installed at another location. Secondly, steel offers precision in construction. Moreover, the ability to easily recycle it helps avoid wastage, as material wasted at one site can be completely recycled and used at another.

QHow structural steel can be innovatively used in design aesthetics and at the same time offer economic solutions?

If you think innovatively, the sky is the limit when it comes to using steel as a design medium. A lot of times, even when we do not have the need for large volumes of supports, we end up with them by using concrete, brick, stone and such conventional materials. However, with steel, you can create a network of members that is light in weight. This, in return uses less material, and is therefore both cost-effective and easier on the environment.

QWhat is your take on the variety of steel sections, grades provided by our steel producers for various demands of creativity?

In my opinion, the sections and grades available are still quite primitive compared to what is available to creators and designers the world over. Steel producers must not stop at only providing the members but they should go a step head; offer customized services even for medium-sized projects and not just large projects. There is a large potential and a lot of untapped area that they can reach out to, if they employ and train people to meet the rising demands. It is obvious for steel producers to veer more towards large scale projects as those bring in more revenue. However, steel producers need to realize the fact that volume is not just restricted to size but is also in terms of the spread – how many repetitions there are at smaller scales. So, if they bring in some level of customization when the market is saturated, it could benefit both sides.

QWhat trends are we going to witness in next 5 to 7 years as far as designing structures in steel is concerned?

In terms of architecture, we are moving away from cast-in-situ buildings toward more buildings which are assembled at the site. Such buildings have a lot of potential for using steel for several reasons, which includes faster construction. In the coming years, there are going to be a lot of system-based buildings, because a lot of service-related infrastructures have to be woven now, for various kinds of data. It is not just restricted to segments like electrical, plumbing and air conditioning. With this in mind, the possibilities in steel construction will make a big impact in the near future.

QWhat should be the strategy of promoting structural steel construction?

Any kind of building or steel structures currently being designed are quite rudimentary and are talked about as something only engineers are supposed to take care of, whereas, in my opinion, it is the architects who ought to be consulted for all such matters. This is because when you involve architects, you will see the aesthetics and beauty of these structures, and the efficiency that they can bring for the right kind of purposes. In return, people will realize that steel is a material for permanence; that it is for all kinds of buildings, not just for infrastructure and industrial.

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