Understanding the building mechanism for high-rises

D. Nirmal Ram, National President, ISHRAE (Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air- Conditioning Engineers), in a telephonic interaction, explains to EW the challenges in designing and planning the building services for high-rises.

Tags: D. Nirmal Ram, ISHRAE, HVAC, High-rise buildings

BY EW Bureau | December 06, 2014 | comments ( 2 ) |

D. Nirmal Ram

“The boom in Construction industry has led to a large number of high rise building projects in the outskirts of tier 1 and tier 2 cities. This makes the requirements of Specialized Allied Building services like Air-conditioning & Ventilation, Fire & Safety and Plumbing much more demanding, requiring a higher level of engineering and co-ordination between all services. With the rising global warming, energy efficiency and sustainability in Buildings has to be the mandate going forward. We have to be ready for the future now,” says D. Nirmal Ram, President, ISHRAE.

Are high-rises necessary?

High-rise buildings are becoming necessary especially in areas where development has already taken place. These areas have become quite expensive and land rates are sky high; so developers have no way out other than to go vertically up.

Now, the authorities also have started giving approvals for the high-rises. As you know, Mumbai being the economic capital of India, the high-rise buildings first became popular here, followed by Delhi and some high-rises are also present in Bangalore.

What is the scope of high-rises?

Now the application of these high-rises can be truly residential, commercial or mixed use. We see many residential and commercial ones coming up, but compared to the three, the focus is all on residential. In Bangalore, about 34 per cent growth of all development is for residential requirement. May be, that is how it is all over the country.

Is designing high-rise different from a normal apartment?

When we talk about high-rise buildings, the structure becomes very complicated at such a height. And because the structural design gets complicated, experts are required for construction. The construction can be either in RCC or steel. In case of high-rise buildings, we go with composite structure, which is a mix of steel and RCC.

What are the advantages of high-rise buildings?

The construction is comparatively faster, cost is optimised and we get the required floor heights.

Main advantage of high-rise buildings is that the land cost remains the same and the construction cost is marginally higher, but the apartments are ultimately cheap as compared to normal apartments where we have 10 floors, whereas in high-rises we talk about 20 or 30 floors and up.

Next advantage is that as we go vertically up, the landscape improves. These are the main highlights of a high-rise.

Are Indian high-rises comparable to global high-rises?

The growth of high-rise buildings is not up to the mark in India. If we talk about China, there are lots of high-rise buildings coming up, and it is one of the largest high-rise building constructors in the world. India is yet to come up to that standard in high-rise buildings.

What is the awareness level for high-rises in India?

Various seminars conducted by ISHRAE, try to disseminate about specific high-rise design features through talks, and the day is not far when we will have a lot of them in India.

A lot many developers had joined in the seminar in Mumbai on 21st June, to talk about plumbing issues, designing, architecture, safety and security. Symposia 2014 became a platform to deliberate on these challenges and educate the industry to follow best practices in delivering a future ready high-rise building. 

What issues are encountered while constructing a high-rise building?

The main issue with high-rises is that as we go vertically up, the wind velocity puts a lot of pressure on the structure. So, handling at that higher level, the building mechanism for high- rise is slightly complicated.

Next important point is handling fire aspect. As we go for a high-rise, in case of fire, the evacuation could be a bit tedious task. The building code asks for helipad requirement at the top, but whether the fire department is at present equipped to reach there or they have helicopters to evacuate people in case of emergency, is a big question. But not withstanding that, definitely HVAC plays a big role in smoke management.

Next is the glazing.  The building has to be located to the right compass point. The same law applies to whatever we do with conventional buildings. So we want the architects to locate the building appropriately and the glazing is also selected properly. The glazing has to bring in light but not the heat and as such proper shading devices are installed. Glazing with photo voltaic cells are entering the market, which will take care of power and lighting.

What is the latest technology in high-rise apartments?

High-rise apartments, especially in luxury segment are coming up with the latest technology. Equipped with ‘home automation system’ it incorporates everything from complete air-conditioning including the lighting, fire fighting, safety and security, blinds, cameras etc which can be captured on a small micro-processor and the entire activity can be monitored in these high-end apartments.

Are high-rises costlier vis-à-vis conventional buildings?

High-rise construction cost is 15 to 25 per cent higher when compared to a conventional building, as the designs are complicated, but the advantage is that the land cost remains the same. So overall, the construction is cheaper in the long run.

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