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Infrastructure Needs A Big Push

As a nation, where do we stand in terms of executing geometrically complex steel structures? How do we improvise in this aspect?

In India, the structures we build today are generally simple executable buildings, with very few of them sprinkled over the entire nation which are complex in geometry and shape, especially structural steel buildings which are still few and far in between. The trend of constructing complex geometrical structures in steel is picking up over the years, and we shall see more of it as the years go by, with various technologies coming in to place to execute the same. (The trend of constructing complex geometrical structures in steel is picking up over the years with various technologies coming in to place to execute the same.)

To improve this aspect of executing complex structures, the state and the central Government must step in to build large sports complexes, infrastructure projects and develop new high-tech cities ensuring the scope to develop such proposals. Private sector can only supplement such kind of projects due to the high cost of construction and low returns.

How structural steel can be innovatively used in construction to execute aesthetically designed structures and at the same time offer economical solution?
Innovative concepts in steel construction are possible through a consolidated effort of owners, architects, structural consultants, MEP consultants along with the construction team. Architects shall be flexible enough to adopt bracings and expose the same at the external surface to make the structure cost effective.
The joint details should be aesthetically designed. By adopting a sleeved column bracing the structure can be more economical especially in high earthquake regions.

Economy of structures is obtained by using a very high strength steel having yield strengths of 600N/mm2 or above with built-up sections in combination with uniform sections available in the market. A combination of composite columns and beams enables to achieve economy. The metal deck slab could possibly be replaced with partially precast slab, precast slab or hollow core slabs.

What do you think should be our strategy to revolutionize the steel construction sector in a relatively developing country (in terms of steel construction) like India?
The steel construction in general is expensive when compared to a normal reinforced concrete construction. Experience and expertise is short, construction vendors are small in number and detailing of different materials such as block work and steel, glass façade and steel are to be more refined. The strategy to revolutionize the steel construction not only requires addressing the above issues, but, also requires government backing to provide incentives to construct steel structures and make it more affordable. The steel construction is less eco-sensitive which calls for subsidies from the government to boost the growth of this sector, especially in the urban region.

What are your views on the current scenario of steel grades and sections provided by our steel manufacturers to the construction industry?
As mentioned earlier, the higher grades of steel and flexibility of using manufactured/built-up sections should be made available easily in the market which will improve and help in progress of the structural steel construction in India, this will in turn help in improving the quality of projects and achieve complex design solutions easily.

According to you which are the prime sectors of construction that will turn the tables for India, as far as the growth is concerned? Why?
Infrastructure!! India is way behind in its infrastructure be it ports, surface transport, highways, railways, waterways or urban transport. Infrastructure is a major sector that propels overall development of the Indian economy. To help the infrastructure come up at par with global standards, it is essential to attract a lot of investment so that both, quality and quantity issues can be addressed adequately.

Which are the grey areas that need to be addressed by the industry to advocate structural steel construction in our country?
The areas of structural steel construction that need immediate attention is cost-effective pricing, flexibility in grades and sections, quality vendors in the country and to improve the mechanization at site. If taken into consideration, these areas would surely aid the steel construction development of our country.

According to you, what is the future of high-rise steel buildings in India?
Why is this concept not picking up in a higher proportion?The future of high rise steel structures is on the cards, provided the industry delivers the project with the time advantage as promised and cost as envisaged in the budgets. The product is always compared to the standard cast in situ concrete construction and the cost difference must be brought down to make it competitive and attractive for investments, this despite getting the time and quality advantages.

How do you see the role of structural steel being used in construction five years down the line?
The industry must put in lot of efforts to make it work and seek the state and central governments to promote their usage by getting some benefits, as it has got less environmental impact and can deliver projects on time without cost escalations. With the growing demand for infrastructure and world-class office spaces in India, structural steel indeed is bound to grow further in the following years and prove to be the ideal solution for all complex design solutions.

Which has been you best work so far involving structural steel?
TCS Campus at Siruseri, Chennai is one of the best works till date which showcases that the structural steel has been used aesthetically and functionally to its best advantages. The first phase of the project completed in 2008 has won international award for best office spaces. Central spine is the roofing structure over the connecting corridor of six engineering blocks covering a length of 400m. The structure is formed with 3 dimensional curves and is symmetrical across both, vertical and horizontal axis. The three wings at the top cantilevers form the main portal to 4m, 8m and 12m respectively. Spacing of portals is at 22m and cantilevers at the ends are 35m beyond the portal. The structure is conceptualized by the architect with two wasps one behind the other and has consumed closer to 3000 tonnes of structural steel.

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