STEEL ENABLES DESIGN LANGUAGE

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Steel offers better speed in construction and flexibility. If used differently, steel can be more expressive – as steel has its different signature and language, says, Ar. Sandeep Sikchi, Principal Architect, Sikchi Architects

Q. What are the major advantages of using steel vis-à-vis conventional materials?

A. Well, there certainly are quite a few advantages over conventional materials in terms of speed which is the most important aspect in today’s construction industry. With steel, we can have better speed in construction and flexibility. The deterrent on the other side is in terms of cost, which would change further with the use of steel but at the same time, strength is much better than the regular concrete and at the same time more flexible. If used differently, steel can be more expressive – as steel has its different signature and language.

Q. How structural steel can be innovatively used in construction to provide design aesthetics and at the same time offer an economical solution?

A. Honestly economics am not that sure as I am not doing that scale of structures but I know for certain that steel has its benefits because of its different character. As a design element in buildings, it adds to its signage character to the overall facade. We have done a couple of projects recently in steel – A Temple and An Office Building. The office is a ground-level structure but it’s a very different project because it had quite a few limitations. It had a mango orchard that was about 70-80 years and had to design the office in between these trees. The idea was to make sure not to uproot any of these trees and maintain the same character and design the office in between the spaces. I ended up designing this office in steel as it was practically not possible to design using RCC.

Hence, we went in for a pile foundation and it was a floating plinth to ensure no harm to the tree roots and design accordingly. So, I felt steel has got its characteristics and ended up adding steel as a character to the overall elevation in the facade itself.

Q. What is your take on the variety of sections/grades provided by our steel producers for various demands of creativity?

A. I would say the market determines the shape and sizes of steel. As an Architect, I would prefer more shapes available like oblongs and oval sections adding different characters to the building elevations. Also, if there can be tubular pipes that are conical in shape that can be used other than in the construction industry as today lot of furniture is being designed in steel as well. I would like to see this change happening in the Indian Market scenario.

Q. What trend are we going to witness in the next 5-7 years, as far as designing structures with steel is concerned?

A. Well, certainly the future is bright in steel. I was referring to some clients last week, even though the acceptance is growing but the cost is to be a deterrent as of now. Eventually, when the people this trend penetrates smaller towns we will see more acceptance of steel. When I say the construction industry, I don’t mean industrial projects but direct users like builders who are doing apartments or commercial buildings.

Q.What should be the strategy of the industry in promoting structural steel construction in India?

A. I think if the industry comes together and creates a few iconic structures and takes it up as a challenge to create a few structures and this awareness is brought to local builders by appointing the right consultants at the district level and encouraging builders to develop G+3 or G+4 building in steel will see a major change because steel structures offer flexibility in terms of column sizes, beam sizes With this awareness program at the district level will bring a key change in the industry.

Q.Which are the iconic steel-specific projects executed by you?

A.We have designed structures that I won’t say are iconic but for every designer, there has to be a design aspect. This office building, Pune did by me had its value in terms of steel and environmentally, how we could save the trees because steel was an option available to save the trees or would have to change the site which was practically not possible.

So steel brought me that opportunity to make this very different office which is for me iconic certainly and secondly, I am doing a sample project for which the span was practically not possible in RCC. These are the 2 projects which I have done.

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