The evolution of architectural materials over time holds the history in it. When did a material first come to use with an architectural benefit? What makes it worthier than the others? How do the masterminds know what suits what buildings? The significant properties of some materials hold the essence of the built environment creating visual impacts with a history hidden in it. Around 4000 years ago, blacksmiths added carbon to iron ore while smelting it in coal furnaces to make the iron stronger, indeed, leading to the discovery of steel. Later on, the availability of iron alloy and the introduction of the steam engine marks the era of steel structures.
What made India the world’s second-largest producer of steel? And India is all set to be the world’s second-largest consumer of the same. The concept of unsupported tall structures made into life with the evolution of steel as a building material. The demand for steel structures in India is mainly contributed by the industries and the infrastructure. The steel buildings use the least amount of energy, materials, and labor. This made steel to the forefront of architecture. Today, steel buildings are best known for the diversity of their shapes and the architectural expressiveness, and these features make them more reliable than other types of structure.
The desire to have a building with a strong base for a lifetime is what the corporate and the common man need. If the same building saves time and money compared to the conventional techniques, then it is something to be researched and developed for a better India. The unmatched strength of steel to other building materials lead to the emergence of steel structures. The application of steel is increasing every day today. From metros to airports, from railways to stadiums, steel is most trusted in public utility spaces. Of course, the material has its demerits. But it can be cured to some extent by different technologies.
Steel Marking its Territory in India
The flexibility to express or conceal a building’s structural frames, to articulate the architectural expression and uniqueness of the structure – yes, steel can help facilitate those desires of the clients. Architects will always appreciate the opportunities coming along with the steel structures. The slenderness of beautifully crafted buildings, the flexibility of a dynamic building, or even the refined detailing of the architectural statements is all possible now.
The living steel, Restello, being one of the finest examples of steel architecture in India, winning the Living steel international architectural competition in 2006, set an everlasting example for the coming generations.The bold and elegant design, along with the strong concept of cross ventilation and shading, uses the properties of steel to make it an environmentally sound, high-performance building. A permeable outer layer of perforated steel screens forms the skin of the building with a second inner lining of floor-to-ceiling glazing. The dappled patterns of sunlight into the interiors creating an airy effect and maintaining the exterior views that fit well with the local climate is an admirable invention.
A modern outlook brings in all the changes to society. The recent decades were all about experimentations and changes. The concrete building dotting our cities was once a major change for India. The imported idea came from England along with the independence. A whole steel structure building is an extremely modern thought in India, which no one takes the risk for that change. Although we use steel for reinforcements, for making staircases, or for making the basements sound and strong. Being the second-largest producer of steel, why is India afraid of a change?
Like a complete human body evolving from a single cell, an architectural building’s episodic journey from the initial concept sketches developing into a technical design and structural form is worth comparable. India being a developing country, has its takes in design decisions at each stage of the process. The horizontal and vertical zones of the structure to fit into and the type of interfaces are to be finalized by the architect and the structural engineer. The duties are distributed like the loads being distributed in the structure. The versatile and strong material with high recycling capacity makes India the second-largest producer of steel changing the face of India.
The strong internal demand for steel and the emphasis on developing infrastructure remain as the foundation for the economic growth of India. India is on its way to being a developed country. It is soon to be expected. The industries and the infrastructure segments are the key drivers for steel structures for the next five years. Owing to the robust economic growth and the kindled thoughts of newness in the government, there is a good potential for steel architecture in India.
In an urbanizing India, steel buildings would be more common soon, overcoming all the factors weighing against it. We can hope for an India with steel buildings more common and more greener, capable enough to change the face of India.
- Satya Prakash Varanashi (2014). In the Indian context, can we term steel structures as eco-friendly? [online]. Available at: https://www.thehindu.com/features/homes-and-gardens/green-living/building-with-steel/article6574602.ece [Accessed 07 November 2014].
- David Mcmanus (2010). Living Steel Restello : Indian Apartment Building. [online]. Available at: www.healthtipsarticles.com/superfoodsandwheretofindthem [Accessed 20 June 2016].