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Steel Empowers Productivity

Steel is highly durable, malleable, light-weight and recyclable, one of the major advantage it offers, to me as an Architect, is its flexible capacity to be utilized for realization of highly complex forms with efficiency and economy, exclaims, Ar. Swapnil Gawande, Computational Design Expert & Architect, Studio_DRAAFT.


Q What are the major advantages of using steel vis-à-vis conventional materials?
A Steel has several advantages as compared to other conventional building materials. Besides, it being highly durable, malleable, light-weight and recyclable, one of the major advantage it offers, to me as an Architect, is its flexible capacity to be utilized for realization of highly complex forms with efficiency and economy.

Q How structural steel can be innovatively used in construction to provide design aesthetics and at the same time offer economical solution?
A One of the prudent ways in which this could be achieved is by employing digital / computational tool sets for aesthetic and structural design for optimization of various parameters within the design stage itself. Contemporary computational workflows allow Architects and Engineers to design, simulate and validate the morphology and execution trajectory of the project beforehand. Thus, conscious decisions could be made for every stage of the project and its management prior to it breaking grounds on site. These methodologies can definitely help in achieving equilibrium between aesthetics and economics.

Q What is your take on the variety of sections/grades provided by our steel producers for various demands of creativity?
A The Renaissance and subsequently the Industrial Revolution paved way for the use of steel in the construction industry. Different standards were set over years of usage of steel as a material for construction. This standardization combined with mass production is one of the main reasons why steel, although being an extremely malleable material, is conditioned to specific orthogonal sections and grades. Technological upgradations that occur on a daily basis allow for mass- customization along with mass-production. Today, we are at a stage where the design doesn’t necessarily have to “fit-in” or forcefully accommodate the usage of standardized sections available in market. Companies like MX3D are using advanced robotic additive manufacturing technology to print large variety of metal alloys of any shape and size possible. If steel producers can also invest in providing customized solutions to designers, or preferably collaborate with them through their Research and Development teams then that would sync the demand and supply of creative endeavors in steel construction to a great extent.

Q What trend are we going to witness in next 5-7 years, as far as designing structures with steel is concerned?
A At Studio_DRAAFT, we make a point to keep ourselves abreast about the emerging trends within the domain of Architecture, Engineering and Construction. We can suggest that within the next three-quarter of a decade designing structures with steel will gain more momentum in the interior, residential and commercial segment, as it has already proven its worth in the industrial and infrastructure segment.

Countries like India are formulating schemes and encouraging affordable housing initiatives for its vast urban population. Considering this, a significant number of contemporary Architects and Engineers have been advocating the use of steel for such residential and commercial structures’ requirements. This agenda will gradually be accepted by not only the new age builders and developers of the corporate sectors but also within the bureaucracy and government sector.

Q What should be the strategy of industry in promoting structural steel construction in India?
A The industry should reach out to all the stake-holders, within the construction domain and vice-versa. There should be meaningful collaborations between new-age Architects, Researches, Engineers, Fabricators and Producers which can pave way for promoting the apt usage of structural steel construction in India.

Q Which are the iconic steel-specific projects executed by you?
A. We, at Studio_DRAAFT, have been actively involved in the design and construction of radically different design typologies like Highway Infrastructure Designs, wherein we have designed and executed a good quantum of innovative Toll Plazas, heavy garages, steel-structures and allied facilities.

Although we approach all design briefs in a way that the resultants would be unique, but two of our recent projects have been very iconic within their contexts.

The first one is our most recent project of 2018 viz. the Toll Plaza Canopy structure for the Eastern Peripheral Expressway of Delhi.

This Toll Plaza was designed with an innovative structural approach wherein the entire ‘Canopy’ structure was conceived as one big ‘Shell’. This shell was primarily disseminated into three components viz., one central core functioning as the main administrative building and two large ‘wings’ on either side covering the toll booths and lanes. The façade of the elliptical-conic central core is predominantly a variably-triangulated exo-skeleton that takes the entire load of the main building and allows the complete structure to stand just on four main columns.

The curvaceous wings are subdivided into variable hyperbolic-paraboloids components which assure ease in load transfers. The top of the core pulls the wings using high strength tensile cables thus allowing for a panoramic column free space beneath the wings for smooth passage of traffic. The structure is predominantly a metal building with the wings covered in Tensile Fabric membrane. This strategic arrangement is very light-weight and allows the entire structure to counter-balance the loads and self-assemble itself. The central administrative building with elliptical floor plans is column less but consists of a secondary core that accommodates the vertical connectors like lift and staircase as well as all the allied building services. The structure stands 52 meters tall and 115 meters wide. This iconic structure manifests the newly acquired zeal, aggression and dynamism of our contemporary Indian society. Metaphorically, it could be compared to a Falcon – standing calm and confident, in its full glory, with its head up high, razor sharp vision and wings wide open, ready to embrace the new challenges and opportunities of emerging India.

The second iconic project that we are doing is “Re-development of Bharat-Ratna Maharshi Anna Karve Memorial on Karve Road, Pune” which primarily re-invigorates a compact urban node within a dense city. It consist of a parametrically generated canopy which is an output of rigorous computational experimentations done within the domain of Digital Architecture which is an avant-garde movement in current world trends of Architecture.

Hence, this design completely manifests the futuristic ideologies and vision set by Maharshi Anna Karve. The unique structure and design will exude an ambience that is un-matched in any urban setting within Pune city. It will certainly be a tourist attraction and help re-synergize its immediate surroundings booming the economy of the zone. Being an iconic structure of a Bharat-Ratna itself, it will help in re-defining and accentuating the identity of contemporary Pune city.

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