Steel – A Sustainable Material

Steel can be reused and molded. It is strong and flexible in terms of sizes and shapes making its application more efficient in many industries including architecture. The various possibilities of the form, from steel components is another feature that makes the structure looks lighter and spaces looks interesting with the sleek-ness that come with this material, says, Ar. Kush Patel, Principal Architect, Raagin Karman

What are the major advantages of using steel vis-à-vis conventional materials?
Steel coming from a natural resource, makes it a sustainable material, and being a metal, can be re-used and molded. Apart from this, it is strong and flexible in terms of sizes and shapes making its application more efficient in many industries including architecture.

How structural steel can be innovatively used in construction to provide design aesthetics and at the same time offer economical solution?
The Joinery details in steel structure itself are very ornamental, and, adds to the aesthetics of the spatial experience! The various possibilities of the form, from steel components is another feature that makes the structure looks lighter and spaces looks interesting with sleek-ness that come with this material.

It also allows you to join various structural members in many ways including welding, nut and bolt and tensile. The innovation in nut-bolt joints also enables one to dismantle and transfer, which is the best flexibility that can be offered.

What is your take on the variety of sections/grades provided by our steel producers for various demands of creativity?
As an architect, this is always a challenge for us. Since sometimes the sizes of sections/ grades available become the parameters to design. Also, at times due to unavailability of certain sizes of sections, it becomes a hindrance in consideration.

For example, if we require 400 mm diameter pipe, we need to wait until the manufacturer makes it on order or we need to import them; in that case also the thickness available maybe more than the requirement. So, we mostly prefer fabricated sections as per whatever codes we want to follow; or if the material is readily available, and, if it fits into our optimum requirement, only then we go for ready-made sections.

What trend are we going to witness in next 5-7 years, as far as designing structures with steel is concerned?
This prediction is little difficult, but soon there will be more demand of movable living spaces, where people will want flexibility in moving their homes (one-time investment) to their desired city/ place! So, steel will play an important role in PEB house. Modularity is again sustainable methodology which can be achieved in steel.

Sometimes, the real estate planning goes for a toss, per say, the current situation demands to get rid of few non-functioning mall buildings. They are either deteriorating or are being demolished within few years of its existence and then the whole economics is affected. If it was made in steel, we still get an opportunity to re-use elsewhere or shift the entire structure to a place of demand. We see steel as a potential sustainable material for its re-usability attribute which according to us is most important aspect, while, designing mega-structures in current as well as future developments.

What should be the strategy of industry in promoting structural steel construction in India?
The strategy lies in built-examples and awareness amongst students or young practitioners. Introduction to the material with live/real examples would make one understand its potential to the core. Publications and theories are less effective in comparison to live demonstrations. When students/ young professionals visit the manufacturing facility oh the pre-engineered building components, it gives them better clarity and the confidence to use the material.

Which are the iconic steel-specific projects executed by you?
We are a Young studio and we practice from Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Our projects mainly include Industrial Buildings, Exhibition Center, Institutions and Private Residences in both these cities. Most of our architectural large-scale projects are in steel. Following are few of the many Projects in Steel completed by us:
– Exhibition Center at Gandhinagar for Vibrant Gujarat
– Manufacturing Facility for Modular Furniture at Navi-Mumbai
– Manufacturing Facility for PEB components at Bhamasara (near Ahmedabad), Gujarat