“There is always a mental picture of how things should be. It seldom matches the real picture, which is invariably marred by the smudges of reality. Occasionally, the real picture comes close to the one we carry in our heads. On a section of Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), I see a closeness between the real and the imagined. More significantly, it is a big boost to road safety on this section where vehicular traffic moves faster.” – THE HINDU
Thanks to steel says Ar. Tahaer Zoyab, Co-Founder, Triple O Studio
What are the major advantages of using steel vis-à-vis conventional materials?
Steel is versatile and finds its uses in varied scales from being integral to a larger project frame to the finest of interior detailing. Steel as a building material in many typologies results in lower project costs and offers durability to the structure. Steel performs better on a sustainable construction index because it allows for repurposing that concrete does not allow. This gives steel a significant value even after the life of a project.
How can structural steel be innovatively used in construction to provide design aesthetics and at the same time offer economical solutions?
Structural steel is a great economic solution since it optimizes the speed of construction and offers flexibility in design, because of its weight and possible reuse. Structural steel has the advantage of looking much lighter than a framed concrete structure and this lightness offers a wider palette of design possibilities for the final form.
What is your take on the variety of sections/grades provided by our steel producers for various demands of creativity?
We believe the market offers a good range of options and as a result allows for way more permutations and combinations of their usage. Steel is also a material that has a raw aesthetic that can be celebrated easily with nothing but paint.
What trend are we going to witness in the next 5-7 years, as far as designing structures with steel is concerned?
I envision projects whose ecological footprint is minimal – and once its need is served – it is retained or retrofitted or shifted as per demand. This allows us to look at steel as being part of a ‘tool-kit’ that allows architecture to keep evolving or shifting or changing easily. This may also greatly influence the way we think about cities, when, we know we have the option of shifting buildings and structures at ease.
What should be the strategy of industry in promoting structural steel construction in India?
Forums that marry the engineering of steel, the technical knowledge for steel usage with the creative expression of design could greatly promote structural steel construction.
Which are the iconic steel-specific projects executed by you?
We, at Triple O Studio, have used steel in many ways ranging from floor extensions and facade skins to holistic designs. Given the proximity to the sea in Chennai – corrosion is a factor that deters the use of steel in some cases. One of our iconic projects would be the Gateway Bridge FOB (Footover Bridge) located along the Rajiv Gandhi OMR IT expressway.
Steel for us, has proven time and time again to be the best choice of material for certain types of construction. For a bridge of this nature – it had to be steel. As it ensures, minimal disturbance to the road and bulk of the construction was made in a factory and was only set up at site. Lots of savings in terms of time and as a result – cost. Only with steel could such slender structural frameworks and columns be possible. The FOB is fortified by the one–sided cable – stayed structure. Catapult shaped columns form the vertical support while steel beams transfer the pedestrian load to these columns. These columns are designed to be a deterrent to graffiti and do not offer much surface area for vandalism. The deliberately bent railings are porous and offer clear visibility. These railings prevent any form of abuse, stalking and provision for hoardings. All these design aspects were made possible through Steel, that forms the nexus in the FOB’s design.