Phoenix-based Orcutt|Winslow (O|W) has been hired to design a verdant, green residential tower that will soar into the sky above Mumbai, India. The project, currently in a conceptual phase, addresses India’s burgeoning housing demand by creating an alternative to Mumbai’s densely-packed extensive horizontal communities, which have erased the once-lush tropical landscape. Embracing a trend toward vertical development, the design provides opportunities to re- introduce nature at the ground plane and improve the quality of life for Mumbai residents. Offering breathtaking views of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link to one side, as well as panoramic views of the city, Sahana Pride at Sion encompasses a challenging and compact footprint. O|W focused the building design on allowing residents to reconnect with nature, despite being located in the center of a bustling city such as Mumbai. Rising from a strong base, surrounded with vegetation, the proposed building expands to provide a wide range of activity spaces.
O|W initially set up a project team comprised of two architects from the United States and two from India that created the model. A series of nested modules was then developed, as the project called for a set number of two, three and four bedroom units. “We designed the units to stack on top of each other so that the structural system seamlessly followed the design,” said lead architect, Saravanan Balasubramanian. “In ArchiCAD we were able to create floor plans and replicate them to the number of stories needed to meet the client’s requirements. The adjustments going forward were simplified that way.” Facilitating easy adjustments proved critical on this project, which went through as many as ten versions before a final design was selected. O|W has been asked to refine the design a little further to address the client’s wish to build a 200-meter tower. Each jurisdiction in India has a local height restriction that requires aviation clearance.
“The ArchiCAD process helps us keep the file size relatively small through all these changes. Since we’ve set up each floor plate as a module, items that make that floor plate unique can be changed in a separate layer. It is just a matter of adjusting the model and changes are reflected throughout the design. Modularizing each element of the project is the single best strategy moving forward” At the lobby, or podium level – which rests eight stories above a parking garage – O|W may opt to pare down the modules and just show “bones” of the building through the main file to keep the file size as small as possible, while still allowing full access to design elements.
O|W focused on letting the client maximize the value of the square footage allotted, yet was able to bring several sustainable design elements to the Sahana Pride project. While sustainable design is not common in India, the project managers at O|W wanted to continue to help pioneer it and tie it into the economic sphere – such as solar heating for water – which is becoming more and more critical for urban areas of India. “In the next fifteen to twenty years, India is going to face an electricity shortage. Solar power is becoming an element of design that more businesses must embrace there. We brought it to the table on this project because we see the way the population is putting increased demand on electricity resources,” said O|W Partner, Vispi Karanjia. O|W drew on several resources to lead the way with its design for Sahana Pride at Sion. The Phoenix-based company has several architects of Indian descent with of love for their native country and used non-traditional communication through an interactive Internet portal for their client to win the project. It was the first time O|W had opted to create a dedicated website to present the beginning design concepts to a developer, but the firm is seeing advantages already in terms of their ability to seek additional opportunities overseas. The animation contained a 3-D model that showed how the design addressed problematic spaces. “We really had to stand out from the competition,” said Balasubramanian. “We wanted to show our client that we are a turnkey design firm, and therefore able to provide a complete package from design through every phase of the project. Communicating our project ideas in this way definitely set us apart from our competition. We’ll be adopting this strategy going forward.”
O|W typically assists US clients in putting similar projects up onto their sites. This additional skill set and capability are just some of the technological edges the firm possesses. O|W is currently using their web server to host the website for Sahana Pride, but has it set up so that the project can be transferred to another web server quite easily. The firm has employed a combination of websites and renderings to facilitate communications with their client and stakeholders as well as inspire community involvement. Designing in 3D and being able to show clients their building concepts in 3D, offers the firm a significant advantage, says Balasubramanian. “We are able to leverage the features of ArchiCAD and its BIM Server technology. Our team in the United States provides support to our staff in other locations.” “The goal is to work this project on the BIM Server, to have everyone working on it no matter where our architects are located,” explained Balasubramanian. “The BIM Server provides a tremendous opportunity to exploit our expertise and the country’s need for technical planning firms from the US. We can, through that technology, take advantage of our roots in India and leverage our proficiency in architectural design.” Any concerns about difficulties in creating 3-D details in ArchiCAD for this project were quickly assuaged by the firm’s ability to demonstrate capabilities and provide actual figures for their client. In summary, Balasubramian is assured he and his team can meet the many challenges they’ll meet in the project, “ArchiCAD helps us to maximize benefits, present more options in design and give our client confidence in numbers. A project like this one is all about numbers – the plot area, allowable floor space – when you consider that Mumbai is one of the most expensive places in the world to do business, ArchiCAD does an admirable job. We can set up schedules do ADA takeoffs – and talk to our client about the project as it progresses with so much confidence, even when changing the design. Because of ArchiCAD, we can query those changes, get an answer and be able to make a recommendation that helps our client.”