Construction of the Delhi-Gurgaon (DG) Toll Plaza enthused the client - L&T Infrastructure - to create a new benchmark in the toll plaza industry. This led to an intensive research for a toll plaza on the NH-8 in Gujarat, based on need, form and function. Island booths for toll collectors, a canopy for weather protection, an office or management block and a tunnel to connect the islands with the management were some of the features envisaged for this Vadodara-Bharuch plaza.
"The client also wanted a funkier canopy than that of the DG Toll Plaza," says Sourabh Gupta, Project Leader and Head Architect, archohm consults. "Although we had initially decided to build a toll plaza without a canopy; we soon realised its importance in protecting the plaza from the harsh climate of Vadodara-Bharuch. That's when we hit upon the idea of independent winged shelters that are vertically aligned with a mechanically controlled system. These wings are motorised and manoeuvred in a manner that allows them to remain detached for six to eight months a year. This also reduces maintenance costs."
The two prominent building blocks, namely the control block and the office block, also reflect the 'wing' concept as they both comprise wings jutting out of central glass towers. The control block has been positioned centrally for better visual access and future expansion options of the plaza. The office block stands adjacent to the site, which gives it additional privacy. The blankness of the facades reduces the impact of smoke and sound on the buildings, owing to heavy vehicular traffic. The courtyards and side windows are well-placed to capture natural light.
"The plaza has been divided into two parts," notes Gupta. "While one controls traffic coming from Mumbai, the other controls traffic coming to Mumbai. The functions of the plaza include finance management and administration. Connecting all booths from the control room is a 4 m wide hall with staircases to each booth. This hall is used to store all the electronic and other equipment used at the plaza. These tall, dramatic structures provide in¡creased visibility to the approaching traffic, while their coloured signage-centric lighting helps enhance the entire visual experience of the plaza."
The blank facades of the building help in maintaining its temperature. They also minimise the need for lighting, which is mainly secured through courtyards and slits inside the building. The canopy is a steel frame membrane structure made of a specific fabric known as the Ferrari fabric. It is a high-grade tensile membrane that is also weather-resistant. Moreover, the concrete toll booths provide a cooler and safer environment for the toll collector.
Stylish, safe, secure
The walls of the plaza are built with reinforced cement concrete. The double-insulated glass central towers spread across 200 sq m prevents heat from penetrating inside the tower, besides enhancing its visibility. The interiors have been designed in corporate colours such as white, red and black. The canopy has been coloured red to make it visible from a long distance. The concrete toll booths have just one small window and no doors. This prevents people from entering the booth. As the tunnel connects the booth and the building with the entire system, the whole environment across the plaza becomes safe and secure. Also, it is used to store extremely expensive tolling equipment and monitoring systems such as the toll lane computer. As Gupta reveals, there are plans to add a few more lanes to this plaza in the next five to eight years.
Project details Area: 76,895 sq m Size: 3,860 sq m No. of stories: 2 Completion: 2010 Developer: L&T IDPL.Tel: 044-2252 6666. Website: www.lntidpl.com Contractor: L&T ECC. Tel: 044-2252 6000. Website: www.lntecc.com Architect: archohm consults Pvt Ltd. Tel: 0120-464 0300. Website:www.archohm.com
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