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Steel is a wonderfully expressive construction material that excels in providing the flexibility to express or conceal a building’s structural frame, either externally or internally, and can help facilitate the artistic expression, says, Ar. Himanshu Bansal, Principal Architect. Anantham Architects

What are the major advantages of using steel vis-à-vis conventional materials?
Today, practically all buildings, bridges, high-rise buildings, and warehouses have major applications of structural steel over any other building material for construction from industrial equipment to finished products. This is mainly because of the innumerable benefits structural steel provides and brings numerous benefits to a project.

Prefabrication can be done in workshop with accuracy and managing the simultaneous civil foundation works at site to gain time. So, the final strength of the material is verified at the point of production, not after the material is already placed in the frame of the building. Rapid Erection & Construction in all seasons with close tolerances being maintained for integration with other building systems and minimal construction site-waste is achievable with structural steel. Large span structures with large areas of column free space in RCC are un-economical and time taking.

Structural steel framing system including decking and fire protection will typically cost 5 per cent – 7 per cent less than a concrete framing system making the project economical and time saving. Repeat type construction elements is reliable for fast production of fabricated steel structure as Structural steel is shop fabricated to close tolerances impossible for site cast materials.

It’s the most efficient building material as the structural steel buildings optimize building space efficiency through the use of slender columns maximizing useable floor space, longer spans for open, column-free spaces and the integration of HVAC systems into structural spaces allowing reduction of floor-to-floor heights. Structural steel is the most recycled material on our planet – today’s structural steel is made of 88 pe cent recycled product, is fully recyclable in the future and can be reused without further processing.

The structural steel industry continues to pioneer new innovations for both the material and the use of structural steel as it allows the project architect a greater degree of expression and creativity in their design than most other construction materials.

How structural steel can be innovatively used in construction to provide design aesthetics and at the same time offer economical solution?
The structural steel industry continues to pioneer new innovations for both the material and the use of structural steel. Large spans and columns free spaces can be covered by steel sections and glazed exterior with Insulated wall cladding panels and give modern elevations to such sheds. For multi storied constructions the exterior treatment can be easily done using the secondary structure fixed with main building structure.

For places where knock down system is desired for large openings required for utility equipment installation high-tech fasteners can be used as per requirements. For lifts and escalator installation definite advantage is there for installation at the required stage of construction. Girder-Slab and Side-Plate are preferred for ongoing innovations addressing issues such as long-span deck systems, fire protection, connection optimization, coating systems and progressive collapse. The structural steel industry pioneered the movement toward open standards and interoperable software that has most recently resulted in the growth in popularity of Building Information Modeling for the exchange of information between structural design, detailing and manufacturing/fabrication programs. Projects taking advantage of this vertical integration within the structural steel industry can demonstrate cost savings of up to 20 per cent on the structural package.

What is your take on the variety of sections/grades provided by our steel producers for various demands of creativity?
Steel is a wonderfully expressive construction material that excels in providing the flexibility to express or conceal a building’s structural frame, either externally or internally, and can help facilitate the artistic expression the client desires.

The use of steel construction, in its many forms, should be considered at the concept design stage and different steel sections strongly depends on its ability to create architecturally interesting or long-span solutions, cladding combined with savings in the construction programme and its light weight leading to reduced loading on foundations. Hot rolled sections used for main framing are available in Light Medium and heavy sections besides the wide flanged and parallel flange section giving a wide range of selection as per design requirements. Hollow square sections and Rectangular sections are available for use in elevation requirements. Z sections C sections are available in MS and Galvanized forms for use in cladding and roofing to ensure that the steel consumption is optimized.

What trend are we going to witness in next 5-7 years, as far as designing structures with steel is concerned?
Since, steel is strong, recycle and flexible and can be used for just about any application, ultimately it is well-suited for modular construction, which will become more common as building information modeling, spurred by new technological advances.

Time being the essence of a project it calls for the simultaneous work at site and at workshop. The full advantage is in cost control can be possible where repetitive elements are used. Large areas of Logistic Parks, Warehousing Sheds and Sheds for agricultural products are must for any developing country. Rapid development of this infra structure is possible with PEB structures. The need for steel in construction will only expand as continued need for solid infrastructure does and with populations growing and cities expanding, demand will only continue to climb.

What should be the strategy of industry in promoting structural steel construction in India?
Though PEB fabrication has developed in the last ten years it is necessary to develop similar facility of automation of fabrication, surface preparation of steel structure, painting coating, formation of sheeting and light sections which can be shifted at the site and fast fabrication is done at the site where large tonnage is to be fabricated. After, the fabrication the mobile fabrication plant can shift to the next site. This way the clients will feel secured in releasing quick payments after receipt of material at their site.

Which are the iconic steel-specific projects executed by you?
We have executed the following projects using steel: MIPL, Mumbai, Anamika Sugar Mill Pvt. Ltd, Janak foods, Harit Poly tech, S A Aluminum industry, Klas Products, Sky lark Dying and processing and Aveer Warehouse.

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