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Steel Proffers Flexibility

Steel offers solution in terms of creating large, column-free interiors, thereby giving the building a sense of openness, and moreover, it is malleable, hence gives architects the freedom to explore creating unconventional shapes and textures to make the building distinct, declaims,
Architect Rakesh Kapoor, Founder, Kapoor & Associates…


What are the major advantages of using steel vis-à-vis conventional materials?
These days steel is being used in almost any type of structure – be it skyscrapers or bridges or contemporary houses. It has become a predominant material in the construction industry as it provides us with the freedom to develop fresh structural solutions. The distinctive qualities of steel products (e.g. structural beams, pipes, tread plates, flat bars and heavy angles) like adaptability, beauty, cost-effectivity, durability and ductility, make it the material of choice over concrete for many architects and engineers.

How structural steel can be innovatively used in construction to provide design aesthetics and at the same time offer economical solution?
Structural steel can be adjusted or changed according to requirements e.g. wall frames can be repositioned or altered easily to widen the space or create a new interior layout. This ability to adapt to changes allows for easier expansions, while extending the lifespan of the structure. Steel also offers a solution in terms of creating large, column-free interiors, thereby, giving the building a sense of openness. It’s malleable, and hence, gives architects the freedom to explore creating unconventional shapes and textures in order to make the building distinct.

In terms of cost, steel is light-weight which makes it easier to transport. As compared to concrete, steel structures are easy to erect making the construction process faster. They can be easily fabricated, and mass produced. They are versatile and can be easily assembled, disassembled and replaced and can be modified even for last minute changes. Aside from this, steel is energy efficient and can be recycled without downgrading its quality, creating minimal raw material wastes.

What is your take on the variety of sections/grades provided by our steel producers for various demands of creativity?
Steel is slowly gaining popularity as a construction material in India. However, when we compare with the range of steel products available in the international markets, India still has a long way to go. During our ‘Punjab State War Heroes Memorial and Museum’ project in Amritsar, we required a rust proof weather resistant steel grade for the construction of a 45m high steel sword. However, the grades available in India were limited and had constraints in fabrication. As a result, we had to settle with lower grade of steel. Indian steel producers need to push the envelope to make products which will help cater the demand for unconventional structures.

What trend are we going to witness in next 5-7 years, as far as designing structures with steel is concerned?
Steel is lighter, faster to erect, competitively priced, sustainable and provides great flexibility for designers. With all the benefits steel affords, engineers and developers are increasingly turning to it as a practical and inexpensive solution for all their design needs. Due to the emerging era of tech and building information modeling, integrating the design and fabrication of steel will result in faster construction times and lower labour costs – two key components affecting the financial viability of a site.

Apart from this, the steel industry has already begun adopting novel steel modular frame systems for use on construction sites. Ultimately, steel is well-suited for modular construction, which will become more common as building information modeling, spurred by new technology, advances. Together, these elements strengthen the argument for the use of structural steel in meeting the design demands of the built environment – now and into the future.

What should be the strategy of industry in promoting structural steel construction in India?
Many countries have started to opt for steel structures due to its qualities. India too is seeing a rise in experimental, contemporary architecture which can only be realized by using steel construction. Another aspect is the predicted exponential rise in ‘affordable housing’ in India. In this scenario, steel could be a probable solution in terms of prefabricated structures, leading to fast and cost effective modular construction.

Which are the iconic steel-specific projects executed by you?
Some prominent steel specific buildings that we have worked on include the Punjab State War Heroes Memorial, Amritsar, Thayagaraj Sports Complex, New Delhi, Dasrath Deb Sports Complex, Agartala, LBSNAA Sports Complex, Mussoorie and DAV University Building, Jalandhar.

The Thyagaraj Sports Complex, India’s first eco-friendly stadium, was the venue for Netball Competition and Athletics Training for the Delhi 2010 Common Wealth Games. Structural steel framing was used to obtain large, clear spaces. Apart from this, additional seating capacity, future expandability, sustainable construction, low maintenance costs, amenities, enhancements for patron comfort, security and aesthetics became reasons to choose structural steel as the material of choice. The external façade of the stadium building is frameless structural double glazing This also allows sunlight to enter inside and saves the need of artificial lighting during day time.

For easy uniform distribution of truss reaction to the RCC columns, RCC column heads were provided of size 2400×2400 (in Plan). The 25mm thick stainless-steel plates were provided over the capital, one fixed to the RCC column head and the other to the truss with proper fixing arrangements. Supports on one end of truss (on two RCC column heads) were fixed and other end (two columns) was with horizontal sliding arrangements. The complex is one of the greenest sporting arenas in the world. It has been awarded the IBC Trophy for Excellence in Built Environment, the CPWD Award for Excellence: First Prize in Sports category.

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