Design with Steel

Steel Propels Creativity

Steel breaks many foregone conclusions when it comes to aesthetics. It tops the list because of its high strength to weight ratio with lesser weight when compared to many other materials. It opens out of box thinking, where integration and manipulation of spaces happens to create an amalgamation of an eccentric spatial experience, says. Ar. Murali Murugan, Chief Architect, Murali Architects

What are the major advantages of using steel vis-à-vis conventional materials?
Out of the profuse advantages of steel in relation to the conventional materials, there are some firm reasons why they stand out. While going beyond the boundaries of conventional thinking, steel comes as it can stretch the clear span to maximum extent also it is versatile and flexible with the shapes of the design; especially while going fluid geometry where experimentation of spaces happens and new experiences emerge.

It can also play the role of the skeleton as well as the skin of the structure. Technically, steel tops the list because of its high strength to weight ratio with lesser weight when compared to many other materials. While speaking about the project time, the process happens quickly, as they are prefabricated off-site and can be assembled on-site rapidly.

How structural steel can be innovatively used in construction to provide design aesthetics and at the same time offer an economical solution?
Steel as a structural element can break many foregone conclusions when it comes to aesthetics. This is the material where play of forms, irrespective of its size happens. It opens out of box thinking, where integration and manipulation of spaces happens to create an amalgamation of an eccentric spatial experience.

As a result, it creates a visual amazement and admiration. Steel can be firm and rigid as well as fluid which simply flows through. Steel are the only go to have structures with a floating feel, like long cantilevers and long-span clear roofing system. Economically, it is quick in construction as the on-site work is only assembling. It requires less maintenance with good scrap value and can also be recycled.

What is your take on the variety of sections/grades provided by our steel producers for various demands of creativity?
Today, a wide variety of steel sections and grades are available which can be innovatively used for structural as well as aesthetical purposes. Where innovation and creativity need to be exhibited, steel plays a major role. We use sections for some residential projects for structural support where the construction needs to be completed quickly and steel sheets are used for creative play of patterns which creates a new aesthetical identity to the structure.

What trend are we going to witness in the next 5-7 years, as far as designing structures with steel is concerned?
Diversified and innovative steel structures were constructed in the past, such as Akashi – Kaikyo Bridge which is the world’s longest suspension bridge. Due to the development of the high-performance steel, there happened development and progress in the steel structures as well.

Because of this advancement, innovations in steel are fairly high and low strength steels, high bridge performance steel, seismic-resistant steel, fire-resistant steel, corrosion-resistant steel, and size flexible beams are made which enables and pushes the boundaries in creating exceptional structures in steel materials. All these years because of the usage of conventional materials the space perception has narrowed down. But now the innovation in steel has widened our space perception to a new dimension where form flows through the space which was not much explored before.

Moving towards the future where experimentation of today takes its form, the monotony of the present society breaks and spaces takes new forms, and steel being a versatile material, address all the above.

What should be the strategy of the industry in promoting structural steel construction in India?
Collaboration of steel industry with architects in creating and placing futuristic steel structures for people to use, see and admire in public spaces helps in acknowledging the public with the effectiveness of steel. It brings them the comfortability in using them and makes them aware of its practicality. Expo and Conferences for the commoners help in taking steel to them so that the establishment happens at all levels.

Which are the iconic steel-specific projects executed by you?
We are currently working on a holiday home project at Yercaud where a structural steel system is used. The total system has been pre-planned and the steel frames are fabricated at workshop and assembled at site which saved a lot of time in the construction process. The Framing works are fabricated considering the Wind loads.

The flexibility enabled in achieving clear wide spans. Trees in the site can flow through the building, out of the flexibility in the structural system. Metal decks are designed to protrude in the air, hanging out from the main system. The steel system is also being used in one of our other commercial projects where patterns are articulated in the façade. This façade system also flows sharply into the external space from the system. Overall it creates modular planes of various axes bringing out a futuristic design palette.