Wednesday, September 26, 2007

IT demands special space designing

IT companies are multiplying by the day and their office construction planning demands working out buildings in a jiffy. Here are some ways to do it.

DESIGN DEMANDS: Cognizant Technology Office in Chennai.
The rapid growth in the information technology industry has set off a large demand for quality office space. Given the pace of growth in the industry, IT offices are required to be built in a very short time.
Traditional system of construction involved only smaller spanning slabs, 10'0" x 10'0" or 16'0" x 16'0" grids. But modern construction techniques have changed the way the planning grid is designed in office buildings. For larger span structures with freer room space, the conventional framed structure cannot be used. Some available systems of construction are:

a) Pre-stressed slab and beams: These allow for large spans up to 40' x 40' that are technologically very advanced but also relatively a very expensive technique. (Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 / cft)

b) Verendeel RCC girders: In this system the internal column can be almost eliminated. It is an exceptionally good system of construction for large span halls. They are very expensive(Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 / Cft).

c) Flat slabs: A structural system in which the beams are totally eliminated and the columns are designed to transfer the load effectively. For places with height restrictions, this system can be employed as the clear heights are improved due to the absence of roof beams. (Rs. 225 / Cft)

d) Grid slabs: A system in which large column free spaces can be designed, wherein the roof beams are much closely placed to transfer the load to the periphery column. (Rs. 225/ Cft)

Another important element in large multi-storeyed buildings is the vertical movement system like the elevators and the staircases. The staircase and lift core can be combined to house the toilets and pantries wherein pipeline shafts can be provided easily. Ideally a core efficiency of 15 per cent to 20 per cent would be optimum. More practically speaking, a combination of two to three lifts can be provided so that the waiting time is reduced and even in case of failure of one lift, there would be no major problem. Barrier free environment wherein people of all ages and also the physically challenged can move around freely without any help are increasingly the standard. The additional features required to facilitate the same are ramps at entry level. Also, the doors should be at least 4'0" wide to allow for wheelchair movement. Even in the parking bays, there needs to be a reserved space for the physically challenged.

As for the other mandatory services, the fire safety standards are becoming increasingly relevant. Since many of the modern IT buildings have a plush finish with wooden flooring, gypsum board false ceiling and a whole lot of electronics, if there are fire accidents, the damages could prove to be costly. So the planning should allow for the control panels to be within easy access range, so that power supply can be cut off and a fire alarm can be set off.

Automated water sprinklers or even a smoke detector may help prevent the fire from spreading. The clear roof height has to be 12'0" so that all the AC ducts and the electrical wiring can be concealed inside a 3'0" service shaft, ensuring a good crawl space above the false ceiling
For exterior finishes we have aluminium composite panel finish, (costing Rs. 85/- to Rs. 300/- per sft) and structural glazing (Rs. 250 to Rs. 350/- per sft). Aluminium composite panels (Alcom Panels) are large 2'0" x 5'0" metal sheets which are clad over a metal framework. Alcom panels are available in a wide range of colours and are easily maintainable and the metallic finish is highly dust-resistant and durable.

The author is the chief architect of Murali Architects, Chennai

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