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Steel Bespeaks Mightiness

The high tensile strength of steel helps in countering, the unwanted pressure created on the structure during earthquakes. Being a little flexible, steel does not crack as opposed to the brittle nature of concrete under such circumstances. Apart from this, structures constructed in steel are much lighter than those constructed in concrete. In steel structures, the savings in terms of time is also very crucial in steel buildings pronounces
Ar. L.A. Murthy & Ar. Amit Murao, Partners, Aashray Design Consultants.


What are the major advantages of using steel vis-à-vis conventional materials?
Steel, as a building material, has numerous advantages over its disadvantages, when compared to other conventional building materials. With, a major portion of India, falling under the high earthquake prone belt, steel is the solution to counter the effects of earthquake. The high tensile strength of steel helps in countering, the unwanted pressure created on the structure during earthquakes. Moreover, being a little flexible, steel will not crack as opposed to the brittle nature of concrete under such circumstances.

Another, great advantage of steel buildings is its fast-paced nature of construction. Almost, all the components of a steel building can be fabricated off site, in factories. Moreover, faults in the structure caused due to irregularities in building materials like sand, bricks etc. can be minimized. Moreover, the spans we can achieve in steel structures are huge as compared to RCC structures.

Not only can we design huge column-free spaces, but the overall height of the structure can also be considerably increased. This gives us huge volumes of spaces when we design using steel. Thus, steel has its advantages over the conventional materials, but the awareness amongst our future designers and clients is very important. With appropriate knowledge about steel construction, we can make India a very rapidly developing country.

How structural steel can be innovatively used in construction to provide design aesthetics and at the same time offer economical solution?
Structures made in steel are considerably lighter than those constructed in concrete. This is mainly because of the elimination of concrete which is the major bulk of a structure in an RCC building. Lighter superstructure would in-turn, mean lighter design for foundation. This would reduce the overall cost of the structure. Moreover, the savings in terms of time is also very crucial in steel buildings.

Steel is also used for the construction of sky-scrappers. These high-rise buildings have a great dead load of the structure. The light weight nature of steel plays a very important role in the designing of these structures. Being extremely versatile, steel can be used to make very creative designs. With, the new trends in design, and, the taste that we are developing towards raw and rugged looks and minimalistic designs, steel can be the ultimate solution.

The metallic and rustic look of steel inherently provides us with the look many are trying to achieve in their buildings. Thus, steel is not only an economical solution in the building industry but can also be the aesthetic element which brings the redefined edge in the design.

What is your take on the variety of sections/grades provided by our steel producers for various demands of creativity?
With the rising use of steel for construction, the supply for the same has also been matched at equal pace by the steel producers. Various steel sections, of different sizes and strengths are now available in the market. C-channels, I-sections, T-Beams, Z purlins, strut channel; we name it, and it is available to us. The imagination of an architect, or, a designer has very well been realized, because of the support from the manufacturers. And if at all there is something which is not available to us, the ease of working with steel is such that it takes no time for us to get special sections fabricated.

What trend are we going to witness in next 5-7 years, as far as designing structures with steel is concerned?
Steel buildings in India has seen a great surge in the recent years. A, great number of industries have come up in India in the past couple of decades, and, they have majorly been constructed in steel. The influence of industrial design has started to leave a mark on buildings of other genres as well. Various commercial buildings and interior designs are picking up components of industrial design like exposed steel columns, industrial lights, exposed electrical wirings etc. With, the taste of people developing in industrial design, those days are not far away when we would be seeing its traces in residential, institutional and commercial projects as well. In the coming days, we would see a lot of steel structures. The awareness that is being spread in the construction industry regarding the advantages and ease of steel building construction and the availability of steel in the market will see a boost in this sector.

What should be the strategy of industry in promoting structural steel construction in India?
As architects and designers, we always look to provide our clients, the best possible solution with minimum economic implications. Being in the industry for the past 27 years, we have become well versed with the pros and cons of the use of structural steel for construction. The most important thing for us as designers, to do is to spread awareness amongst the people in general regarding steel. We need to take the lead and hold talks, conferences, and discussions to explain to our clients the virtues of a steel building.
Even, after seeing such vast developments in the field of steel buildings, some clients are still reluctant when we come up with the proposal for a multi-storied steel building, instead, of an RCC building. Not only do the people in general need to know about steel buildings but our budding designers need to understand its importance too. The future generation of architects need to know about the future of construction material. The media, like your publication house, can also play a very important role in spreading awareness about steel buildings

Which are the iconic steel-specific projects executed by you?
Over the years of our practice, we have done huge projects completely in steel. In 2011, we were given the opportunity to design the biggest railway wagon manufacturing unit in the country in Jabalpur by CEBBCO. Built on a site spanning 75 acres, the building was developed on a steel-centric design. With 5.6 lakh sqft of builtup area, the building used around 2000 tonnes of steel.

Designed to give the look of railway coaches parked at a platform, the building very rapidly became a landmark. Looking in the recent past, we completed a warehouse and cold storage project on 7 acres of land for the logistics giants Transport Corporation of India. The structure is a combination of PEB and RCC structure, with the warehouse and cold storage built in steel structures and the admin block and training facility built in RCC. 345 MPA I-sections have been used in the warehouse. The warehouse is built with a massive 810 tonnes of steel.

Currently, we are developing a colossal 81M by 196M fully automated warehouse for Jindal South-West (JSW) along with Think Link, the Turnkey Integrator of the project.The storage system in the warehouse is based on the concept of Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS). A total of 1400 metric tonnes of steel is being used in the project. The entire structure, which has been designed in 345 grade steel, has a very sleek PEB concept.

The manufacturing unit for Sandhar Industries, Hosur, is a project which was completely designed and conceived in steel. The complete unit is built in PEB structure. Even the admin block is integrated in steel structure. The proposal for the upcoming manufacturing unit of Mundhra chemicals, which is still in its design development stage, is in complete steel structure. The mezzanine floors of the factory are being proposed in metal decking to completely eliminate the use of RCC.

While, making our contributions in the field of steel buildings, we constantly try to strive forward and make more and more people aware about the advantages of steel as a building material!

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