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Forging a Greener Tomorrow

Located in Bengaluru, India, the Peekay Steel Additive Manufacturing unit is the first development to come up as part of the Bengaluru Airport City Limited. Focused on enhancing sustainability through passive design choices, the project is registered for IGBC Gold and LEED

Located in Bengaluru, India, the Peekay Steel Additive Manufacturing unit is the first development to come up as part of the Bengaluru Airport City Limited (BACL). The facility is located on a 1-acre corner plot with road access on the south and west offering great vantage from the road leading to the airport. Apart from housing the world’s largest sand 3D printing machine, the facility also hosts a design centre, experience centre and a space for public outreach.

Concept to Creation

The requirements of the production process determined the layout of this facility. Occupying the centre stage, the shop floor is designed to have easy access to customers, employees, and services – each separated into distinct circulation paths. There are specific points at the entry and customer-centric areas where visitors can get glimpses of the shop floor and the manufacturing process.

The client – Peekay Steel Castings is a 70-year-old steel company that is making a foray into additive manufacturing. The core design idea was to capture this paradigm shift while remaining recognisable and relatable to the company’s employees and customers. The new facility’s form is inspired by industrial sheds that are synonymous with steel factories and foundries.

Elaborating on the decision to use steel in the project, Dhiraj Chilakapaty, Senior Associate Architect, Venkataramanan Associates, says, “Steel’s inherent properties of strength, durability and ease of construction have been leveraged in this project. Right from the entrance canopy that cantilevers 7 m beyond the façade line to the large spans in the shop floor and the unique saw tooth profile roof – the use of steel has been critical to meet the business and architectural requirements of this facility. The flexibility to adapt to different process lines was a key requirement for this project.”

He further adds, “Apart from creating large column-free spaces, the steel trusses that support the shop floors at different levels allow services lines to run through them without compromising the available clear height. Even the pallet racks that store raw material for the 3D printer (1,000 kg bags of silica) were assembled using slotted steel sections. These racks are stacked vertically to free up space on the shop floor. This could only be achieved using steel.”

Highlighting the efficiency in the planning, Shanavaz KE, Joint Managing Director, Peekay Steel Castings (P) Limited says, “The 3D printer is a critical component of this project. It was crucial to finish construction in 12 months to start production. In fact, the sequence of construction was planned in such a way that we could start commissioning and testing the 3D printer 9 months into construction. This was only possible using steel. Several moulds that are 3D printed in this facility are used to manufacture steel components which find place in heavy engineering applications. The architecture and materials used in this project resonate with the image of the company which has a rich legacy in the steel industry.”

Sustainably Stylish

Owing to the site’s orientation and profile, the prominent façades of the facility are oriented towards the south and west which posed a considerable challenge as they were susceptible to heat gain and glare. Chilakapaty adds, “Vertical fins act as shading devices for the shop floor on the south and transform into skylights for the shop floor on the second floor. On the west, we have used an expanded mesh as a secondary skin to shade the façade. Both these passive design features help in reducing the heat load creating an optimum work environment with an efficient HVAC system.”

Clad in pre-weathered zinc panels, these fins bring warmth and familiarity to the façade. The standing seam composition with staggered joints highlight the idea of construct which is synonymous with manufacturing.

The west façade mimics the same form with a series of porous fins made of expanded aluminium mesh. These fins add layers of light and shadow into the public and customer facing areas creating an enjoyable spatial experience. Moreover, these screens adjoin landscaped courtyards that directly open into the customer areas and workspaces creating engaging volumes and experiences with light, texture and greenery.

Built for the user

The facility is designed with a focus on employee well-being. The workspaces and the design centre overlook the shop floor creating volumes that allow uninterrupted visual access. The landscaped open terrace on the third level houses a lounge and recreation areas where employees can experience the joy of watching aircraft take off and land on the adjacent runway.

Adding to a muted yet dynamic exterior, the interior spaces also reflect the clean lines and warm highlights of the exterior. Sustainability and energy efficiency is built into the design through active and passive features. Continuing the idea of build and construct, the unique light installation in the lobby and board room highlight the innovation in design that this facility hopes to inspire. This is further enhanced by the experience centre which showcases the company’s history to customers through an immersive experience.

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