Why steel lends itself well to structures, exteriors and interiors

Why steel lends itself well to structures, exteriors and interiors

India’s per-capita consumption of steel has increased close to 30 per cent in the past five years, from 57.6 kg to 74.1 kg. While much of this growth can be attributed to the expansion of the country’s rail and metro infrastructure, CW explored the options of using steel in the built envir...

India’s per-capita consumption of steel has increased close to 30 per cent in the past five years, from 57.6 kg to 74.1 kg. While much of this growth can be attributed to the expansion of the country’s rail and metro infrastructure, CW explored the options of using steel in the built environment. In the high-rise segment, steel buildings are still not the norm in India despite their many advantages listed out by the architect associated with our profiled case. However, the pre-engineered building segment is expected to expand at close to 12 per cent through to 2030. We feature two examples of factory-made structures to showcase that segment’s wide breadth of possibilities. Steel exteriors (façades) both accentuate the aesthetics of a building and add functionality, as our case shows. Last but not least, steel fixtures and furniture are another application with potential, CW reckons, especially if more interior companies base their product portfolios on deep research like the one we have featured.Structural steel holds up Rupa RenaissanceFact fileKind of structure: Mixed-use building, premium classDesigned by: Access ArchitectsLocation: Turbhe, Navi MumbaiArea: 2.15 million sq ftCompletion date: 2020 (start date: 2018)Sustainability: IGBC Platinum-rated green buildingWhen Access Architects was brought into this project, the developer had already obtained approvals for the 132 m building that was proposed to be built in concrete.Rupa Renaissance consists of an IT building (1.8 million sq ft), a block that is home to Marriott executive apartments (four on each floor) and a block holding guesthouse apartments, all interconnected to each other through a smart design scheme.Interestingly, Access Architects gave the project its own spin.“We proposed that the structure be built in composite steel,” says Jay Shah, Director, Access Architects, and a member of the design team headed by Atul Shah.“Composite steel would allow larger floor spans suitable for IT offices and save space with sleeker columns,” explains Shah. “Steel can allow up to 1.5 times the floor space vis-à-vis concrete in the same external height of the building. We also proposed removing the dead walls in the IT block design to make way for a central core structure, allowing smoother circulation with the offices on both ends and better views. Hot-rolled steel sections with higher-grade steel add strength to the building. This additional per-floor strength permits the overall core structure to be lighter. Steel frames also deliver more space for the service conduits than concrete frames. Using steel for the structure also helped reduce the number of floors dedicated to parking by two.”The client was concerned about the cost of constructing in composite steel as expected rents were low. However, Shah points out that if designed well, composite steel doesn’t increase the cost by more than 10-20 per cent.“Steel allows a building to have more floors per total height because with steel, the beams don’t need to go as deep as concrete to support the floor plate,” he adds. “Also, steel buildings are faster to construct than concrete while the premanufactured framework ensures better quality control. With steel frames being lighter, the load on the foundation is reduced significantly. Making subsequent alterations or floor strengthening is easier in steel frames compared to concrete frames. In another project of ours, Kishore Mansion, we have combined steel with other construction materials like glass, cold-rolled and galvanised flat products that have high elastic limits and structural strength. High-rise steel frames made of H-columns and H-beams and cross-bearing walls offer better lateral rigidity to withstand wind stresses. Most of the steel used in India is fully recyclable.”The pre-engineered Chanderkote Yatri Niwas came up in just 14 monthsFact fileKind of structure: Residential structure (17 dormitories) for 3,384 devoteesMade by: Epack Prefab (nine dormitories)Location: Ramban District, Jammu& KashmirArea: 9,522 sq m (17 dormitories)Timeline: 14 months from April 2021Sustainability: Made of steel frameworks (582 mt steel), 0.5mm thick profile sheets for external cladding, glasswool and rockwool insulation for the roof and walls, cement board cladding for the interiors, double 18mm boards for the flooring, PVC flooring“The construction of the Yatri Niwas at Chanderkote was entrusted to the CPWD, which then tendered out the project,” says Mohan Lal, Superintending Engineer, CPWD, Jammu. “As the structure was needed speedily, the decision was taken to build the dormitories as a pre-engineered building. Epack Prefab was assigned the work of nine dormitories in April 2021and worked through the COVID-19 lockdowns.”The biggest challenge for Epack was completing the project amid the acute shortage of labour and difficulty in the movement of supplies as entry to the remote site is restricted. The team also faced a shortage of space to stack materials at the site as seven agencies were working on the site simultaneously. Other agencies were taking care of the construction of the superstructure of eightdormitories and the development of the exterior site, the fabrication of the bunk beds, etc. Frequent rain and ensuing landslides that blocked the approach roads and hard rock/big boulders encountered during the excavation for the foundation were additional challenges.“Eventually, the cluster of 17 dormitories (eight dormitories were made by another agency) in the G+2 format with sufficient space for 3,384 devotees, was completed on time,” continuesLal. “Fifteen dormitories are fitted with 216 bunk beds each and two have 72 beds each. The17 dormitories are serviced by 640 washrooms and four dining halls on the ground and firstfloors.”UprearBUILD manufactures ‘Boxable’ PODs in steelFact fileApplications: Office use, residential use, clinics, anganwadis, restaurants, highway amenities, etcMade by: UprearBUILD on Stallion LGSF machinesShipped from: Surat to anywhere in the worldDimensions: Unboxed 20 ft (l) × 20 ft (w); Boxed 20 ft (l) × 8 ft (w)Timeline: 30 days waiting + 2 days installationSustainability: Made of reusable steel (70 per cent of the material cost) and other layers of composite structural and insulating materials approved under the National Building Codes“We use light gauge steel framing (LGSF) as the structural material for our ‘Boxable/Foldable’ PODs that are suitable for use as site offices, one-bedroom studio apartments, clinics, lab collection centres, restaurants, highway eateries and restrooms, anganwadis, and other customisable applications,” says Shrikant Shah,Founder CEO, UprearBuild.“LGSF helps keep the cost of the built solution low and affordable,” he continues. “Using conventional materials for this solution would be too heavy and expensive. Our PODs are only 10-15 per cent more expensive than same-sized structures built of brick and mortar but offer the advantage of speedy installation and portability and higher scrap value as about 70 per cent of the material cost can be recycled. Factory-made built solutions eliminate construction delays and can be mass produced. To factory-make our PODs, we use reliable high-tech Stallion LGSF machines, which are made in Taiwan and available in single and multi-profile options capable of roll-forming all the popular cold-formed sections upto 3mm thickness.”“Most important, LGSF is amendable to being folded,” adds Shah. “So far, we are the only company making foldable structures in India. Our PODs are built in two parts, arigid 20 ft by 8 ft, and a folded section that opens out. The dimensions of the rigid part have been chosen to suit transportation. The rigid section usually contains the areas that need plumbing and electrical installations. The opened out (or unboxed) pod is 20ft by 20 ft, amenable to better square floor plans. Our PODs can also be placed side by side or one over the other to create larger structures in LGSF.”Steel exteriors: a façade that doubles up as a shading deviceFact fileKind of structure: Educational institutionDesigned by: Vijay Gupta Architects (VGA)Location: KolkataArea: 10-acre campus; built-up area 10 lakh sq ft;façade size 60 × 11mCompletion date: Phase 1 in 2015Sustainability: USGBC Gold rated (New Construction Category)“We wanted to give the main structure of Amity University in Kolkata a façade that would act as a shading device as well as envelop the building, giving its exterior its primary character,” shares Akanksha Gupta, Partner, Vijay Gupta Architects (VGA). “During our material research and while considering multiple alternatives for the façade construction, steel came out as the most natural choice.”Why steel?“At VGA, we aim to bring in design efficiencies through careful detailing to deliver efficient, timely and cost-sensitive building solutions,” she explains. “Steel, as a material, reaches for utmost precision,resulting in greater construction quality.In this effort, steel granted us clean and crisp lines while ensuring durability and amazing aesthetics from the distinctively patterned façade. Steel allowed us to opt for simpler sections in the façade while playing to its advantages of ease in construction and reducing construction time, making it a win-win solution for the construction team as well as the client.”Zero-maintenance steel furnitureFact fileKind of structure: ResidentialMade by: BethlivingLocation: BengaluruProject completion: 2019Sustainability: Made of reusable steel or stainless steel account (98 per cent of the products by weight), small quantities of recyclable plastic, paper packaging“We opted for steel interiors as far as possible for our home near Electronic City in South Bengaluru,” says Antony Jaison, owner of a property in south Bengaluru that makes extensive use of steel in its interiors. “From the planning stage itself, we decided that we would get steel doors, windows and wardrobes, at the very least, because we were fed up with the maintenance needs of wooden cupboards, doors and windows in our old home.”Eventually, other bits and pieces such as the TV rack, office table, book shelves, study table, stair railing and the kitchen were also done in steel. Bethliving provided the steel furniture, which is coloured in part to blend with the interiors. The company does intensive research to develop products that feature patented components and are competitively priced, typically because the products are made in 0.6mm steel unlike the customary use of 1.5mm steel for furniture. Bethliving’s products are designed to be flame-resistant, pest-resistant, water-resistant, eco-friendly and durable. The company offers steel TV racks, cupboards,modular kitchens, wardrobes, beds, cots, work from home products, dining tables,etc.“Bethliving made, delivered and installed the furniture (wardrobes, office table, study table, book shelves, modular kitchen, TV rack)a week before the deadlineunlike woodwork, which in our experience sees a lot of delays,” continues Jaison.“The installation process was smooth and the units fitted like plug-and-play moduleswithout inconveniencing the other ongoing finishing work.”He adds, “We have never needed to spend on any maintenance and the products still look new!”

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