Time To Look Up At The Sky!

//Time To Look Up At The Sky!

Time To Look Up At The Sky!


Er. Jagvir Goyal*

 ‘No Alternative to vertical expansion’, a paper written by the author in 2004 was selected for the international conference held in Queen Elizabeth hall, London and presided over by Prince Charles. In the following article, the author shares his thoughts over the necessity of shifting the direction of ‘expansion arrow’ from horizontal to vertical.

The living standard is on the rise and so are the aspirations. Population is increasing asymptotically and ‘Shelter for all’ remains a dream—far from a workable policy. With the settlement area remaining constant, there is no alternative except to shift out gaze from ‘straight & horizontal’ to vertical, towards the sky. The dream and the policy can’t be achieved unless we look up and expand vertically!

More and more cities in India are now looking for a vertical expansion and a change in their skylines. Chandigarh, known as city Beautiful, has been strongly opposing such a change in its present architectural character. No doubt, a change in skyline of Chandigarh will affect its architectural character but we have no other solution!  Urbanization is on the rise, more and more people are attracted towards the tri-city and housing shortage is on the increase. Some solution has to be found.

It is time for the architects and planners to put their heads together and come up with new ideas and plans to add some high rise buildings to the city by making practical and judicious use of its land in the periphery. While the architectural departments may get busier in preparing new and attractive plans that may add to the beauty and utility of the city, there are certain essential features that must be kept in view during the design of these buildings to make them safe and workable. These features are discussed below:

  • Earthquake Resistant Design. No building can be made earthquake proof but earthquake resistant design can certainly be evolved. It is obvious that more is the height of a building, more prone it is to earthquake forces. The buildings are therefore required to be made earthquake resistant by adopting framed structure design. After Bhuj earthquake, IS 1893, the code for construction of Earthquake resistant buildings has been revised by the Bureau of Indian Standards in 2002. The buildings need to be constructed by following the latest BIS code stipulations in letter and spirit and by designing them through ‘Shear Wall concept’. Cities like Chandigarh falls in Seismic Zone IV and these days, buildings are often designed for ‘one zone up’ seismic resistance. In case stilts or Soft Storeys (for parking purpose) are planned in these buildings, the design criteria for soft storey and extreme soft storey also needs to be kept in view.
  • Fire Safety. Fire safety is another  important  factor to  be  kept  in  mind while designing high rise structures.  A city has to raise safe buildings and   not give  birth  to  ‘Towering  Infernos’. Safe exit routes and escape stairs should be essentially planned in these buildings. The  electrical  equipment  and  installations  provided  in  the  buildings should  be  of  high  standards as short circuits are the most common cause behind breakout of fires. The  buildings  should  be  designed  to  carry  electrical systems with emergency  power  supply  in  addition  to  the  main  supply which  should  automatically  switch  off  in  case  of  fire while the  emergency  supply turns  on  to  run the  ventilation  fans. Sufficient  area  around  each  building  should  be  kept  open  and  unoccupied  for  free  movement  of  fire-tenders. Shafts  for  electric cables  should  be run  separate  and  not  common  with  those  for  water  supply  and  telephone  lines.  These should further  be  provided  with  fire  resistance  seals. Provision  of  Smoke  detectors,  automatic  fire  sensing  systems and  sprinkler  systems  should  be  made to the maximum possible extent.
  • Vertical Transportation System. Having  a  fast  and  efficient  vertical  Transport  System  is  another  factor  that must  be  kept in view  while  planning  the  high-rise  buildings. A  ‘Traffic  study’  involving  accurate  assessment  of  building  users should  be  made and ‘peak  demand  hours’  should  be  identified. Elevators  should  be  located  in  the  central  core  of  the  buildings. All  cars (elevators)  should  be  fitted  with  overload  devices and  Automatic  Rescue  Devices (ARD) which  send  the  cars  to  nearest  floors  in  case  of  power  failures  and  even  open  the  doors.
  • Essential Services. Provision of proper water supply, sewerage and drainage facilities is essential for successful and trouble free use of buildings. Water pressure on the upper floors should be same as that at lower levels. Sewerage and drainage should be adequate, efficient and having easy access for repairs and replacement of pipes and joints. Rain water harvesting should be essentially adopted in high rise buildings.
  • Parking facilities. All high rise buildings need to be provided with sufficient parking space for their full utility and occupation. Underground parking system has its own advantages and disadvantages which should be weighed before taking final decision. If enough ground space is not available, a common multi-storeyed parking lot for a cluster of buildings can prove attractive as well as practical.
  • Green building aspects: All new buildings now planned should be designed as green buildings by making most judicious use of natural light and ventilation and by recycling the wastes to maximum possible extent. While the aim can be to achieve carbon credits by shrinking the carbon footprint, a satisfaction of having contributed towards the protection of environment should prevail among the designers and architects.
  • Construction features. In order to ensure proper quality and safety in construction, the building plan drawings themselves should specify use of ready-mixed Concrete, Sulpher and phosphorus free high yield steel and fly ash bricks in construction. Any good company readily agrees these days to set up a RMC plant if the quantum of work is large or sufficient. Use of Super plasticizers and sophisticated form work should also be specified. Accidents should be  declared as  intolerable and safety should be assigned top priority. The target should be that no fatal accident occurs and not a single worker loses his life during the construction of high-rise buildings.

With the availability of user-friendly design software packages, sophisticated and versatile equipment and good quality ISI marked materials, it should not be difficult to develop above features in high rise buildings in India. However, a strong ‘will’ and sense of contributing towards the society is required to make these features really effective. Make sincere efforts and objective will be achieved. Happy Building!

 * Author, Technical & General books; Columnist, leading journals and newspapers; Recipient of many awards including TIET Distinguished Alumni Award 2005& Independence day award in 2010.