Seema Puri, Principal Architect,
Seema Puri & Zarir Mullan Architects and Interior Designer

QWhat are the major advantages of using steel vis-à-vis conventional materials?

Steel gives versatility a new name, as it basically allows to create whatever we design. It allows to dream of the impossible by providing amazing cantilevers, fabulous profiles which are super thin, and concrete can never match up to the slim profiles that steel can offer.

Flexibility of programme is another strong point with steel. Whether you consider a new structure or a hybrid with both, steel and concrete, it can so easily be used for any additions which sometimes become imperative, because of the changing needs. Sustainability is another virtue which structural steel offers. Structural steel is one of the most recycled material on our planet – today’s structural steel is made recyclable upto 88 per cent. Thus, definitely creating a sustainable lifestyle, which is the call of the time.

QHow structural steel can be innovatively used in construction to provide design aesthetics and at the same time offer economical solution?

Starting from creating larger cantilevered canopies, to using floated pergolas, to creating amazing end details, steel offers the most innovative solutions. It also enables quicker construction and the ease of being able to work with it in all seasons – is also another impressive advantage that is achievable only with structural steel – providing quicker construction, therefore, creates better economic viability. Other materials may be able to start field work sooner, but, steel allows for enhanced speed, especially in erection, since one can use sections which are readily available.

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

There are many available sections which are used regularly, but, in this area, I think we could develop some more interesting sections using lesser weight which could help in increased versatility. For instance, edge profiles for better defining the linear profiles would not necessarily have to be as much in weight as a regular I section.

QWhat trend are we going to witness in next 5-7 years, as far as designing structures with steel is concerned?

Creating a sustainable environment starts at the beginning – from pretty much the first stage of the process i.e. planning – because it has to be integrated into the fabric of the plan. Responsible planning creates a sustainable lifestyle, which is the call of the time. Structural steel is recyclable, thus, making it an obvious choice for construction, especially, since we all know how important recycling is for our environment.

Time seems to be the key to economic construction, everyone seems to be realising that buildings built faster results in better end profits for all. Steel definitely creates this possibility, so the trend of creating more with steel is definitely on the rise. So also the advantage of considerably larger spans and far more versatility. From the simplest functional structure to the complex signature design, structural steel can be readily used to accomplish many a different task. No other framing material comes close to structural steel in the ability to encourage freedom of expression and design creativity.

QWhat should be the strategy of industry in promoting structural steel construction in India?

People require to be aware of the easy availability of various kinds of steel, starting from all the basic sections and then, the more complex ones. Also if there are newer sections developed, then these should be made available to the design industry.

An increased awareness of these new ideas, by virtue of seminars and platforms for discussions, will increase the visibility of new products to the market, thus, encourage end use. Platforms that encourage people to realise the ‘Flexibility of Programme’, that steel can offer, will further enhance the use of steel, because whether you consider a new structure or a hybrid with both steel and concrete, it can so easily be used for any additions which sometimes become imperative because of the changing needs.

QWhich are the iconic steel-specific projects executed by you?

We’ve used steel extensively in parts of a structure, but, only now are actually proposing it in almost the entire construction which is at the design stage. In a building which we completed a few years back, we used structural steel to create an interesting pentagonal profile, in the last two floors of the structure. The versatility of the material allowed us to create an interesting backwards splay too which was 25’ high. Because of the lightness of the sections, we managed to create adequate place below this area to house various services and to integrate lighting into the splayed top. Thus, encouraging us to create a razor sharp aesthetic.

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