Kolkata, April 10: Students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, have innovatively used steel to create an architectural design that is high on aesthetics, incorporates traditional Indian elements and is sustainable.
A team of four final-year architecture students of the institute had in March won the 15th National Student Competition, organised by the Institute of Steel Development and Growth (under the union ministry of steel) for their vision of a spiritual and cultural complex based on a steel framework.
"While the architectural possibilities for stainless steel were recognised within a short span after its discovery early in the 20th century, it is usually perceived to have a more functional and machinist aspect rather than an element of beauty," Shahrukh Shaikh, one of the students, told IANS on Thursday.
"So we wanted to create an experience and also a design that can cater to present and future needs, climate sensitivity and sustainability. Steel is the skin of the complex," he added.
The plan uses steel bimetal strips, ribs with perforated steel mesh and other structural frameworks for adaptive shading in spaces, stepped green terraces and incorporation of traditional approaches like 'jaalis', circumambulation and ablution facilities for a "people's place".
Ancient Indian symbology is also evident in the serpentine steelworks and arches. The complex also has a main viewing deck with steel tiling. The visual experience is enhanced with colonnades, arches, water features and sculptural elements that add fluidity to the design, in contrast to the linearity and rigidity in form that people associate with steel, Shaikh said.
The proposal was based on a site in New Town area in Kolkata along the upcoming metro route. The other team members are Abhishek Ramanathan, Sweeya Tangudu, Deepnath Majumder who worked with Sumana Gupta, the faculty supervisor.
"Emerging techniques in digital fabrication of the structural and non-structural parts can be applied to achieve prefab construction, thereby reducing costs and site pollution," Shaikh said. Shaikh said steel is "slightly expensive" than concrete and has much better properties.