Changing with Steel

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He carries forward Vijay Gupta’s legacy as a thought leader in educational space design by pushing the envelope for better design… he strongly believes in giving the future generation better spaces to study & live in… he is innovative & never shies away from challenges…

Here’s Mr. Saurabh Gupta, Partner, Vijay Gupta Architects sharing his views…

What are the major advantages of using steel vis-à-vis conventional materials?
Steel construction is far more precise than we realize. The first advantage is that the quality issues we face with RCC construction can be easily overcome. The second major advantage is the turnaround time. We work on a lot of institutional projects where timelines are very tight. For example, in most of the projects we undertake, the turnaround time is around six months – only steel-based construction can ensure the timely completion of such large-scale projects. This is because a majority of work in steel construction happens off-site, and once the steel members are fabricated, they can easily be assembled on-site in no time.

How structural steel can be innovatively used in construction to provide design aesthetics and at the same time offer an economical solution?
Steel being a very versatile material, offers a lot of flexibility in terms of the malleability of form. Since a lot of steel members are prefabricated, there is the possibility of controlling the quality of the structure while maintaining a certain aesthetic value. Steel lends itself very well to creating interesting and innovative forms with a lot of precision because of its malleability.

Aesthetics and economics are two completely different aspects of any project but yet are correlated. While when it comes to the budget, it depends entirely on the client, steel offers a lot of potential in cutting costs. At the same time, because of its precision, it can bring out the character of a building through form manipulation; without too much surface treatment.

What is your take on the variety of sections/grades provided by our steel producers for various demands of creativity?
A We use a lot of square and circular hollow sections in our projects which are easily available and make our work very efficient. Previously, many common sections and specific grades of steel had to be fabricated on demand which is not the case today. This hopefully means more architects and developers will see the potential in them for construction.

What trend are we going to witness in the next 5-7 years, as far as designing structures with steel is concerned?
I believe steel is going to be more widely accepted as a building material. While structural steel was used for just a handful of projects some years ago, it’s being used more frequently. One of the reasons for this is that steel addresses several issues that come with traditional construction. Being able to be prefabricated also makes it environmentally friendly and sustainable – it does away with a lot of the waste associated with traditional construction. Steel is definitely the future of a greener construction industry.

What should be the strategy of the industry in promoting structural steel construction in India?
There is a general lack of awareness in terms of the benefits to the end user, the cost-efficiency in terms of material used, time-efficiency and its aesthetic value; hence it’s not as widely accepted in India yet. There is still a certain reluctance in moving on from RCC with few structural consultants who are well-versed in working with steel extensively. So there’s a discomfort in working with what seems like a complex method.

It’s up to us as industry professionals to educate the clients in terms of the benefits steel construction provides, and work with contractors and developers to ensure they gain the understanding of working with new technology and materials.

Which are the iconic steel-specific projects executed by you?
We worked on a resource building for Amity University in Calcutta, with a leaf-like form. There was a lot of detailing involved to get the patterns and structure right to maintain the crispness of the shape. The end result was fantastic.

Currently, we are working on a project in Hyderabad, very close to the airport, which is a complete steel structure. In terms of its design, we can already see the benefits of using steel, and we are positive that it will turn out to be an iconic building for the city.