In this era of lightweight materials and limited time, there is an increasing demand for newer technologies that could save time and at the same time provide quality construction. New systems such as Hybrid Construction and LGSF are seeing an increasing demand in India. Customized solutions are the need of the hour and one would need a specialized solution provider for such systems and one such group is Esthete Designers & Builders Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore.
Esthete was established in 2010 as a Customized Interiors and Furniture Com-pany and in 2015 positioned itself as a complete and turnkey home-building solu-tions company, espousing latest building technologies and state-of-the–art software and computer-aided manufacturing.
In an exclusive interview with The Masterbuilder, Mr. Hamsavardhan, Founder and Director of Esthete, shared his insights on how newer technologies are being adopted for faster construction. During the conversation, he shared minute details on their technology and adaptation.
Here are few excerpts from the interview.
What are the technologies adopted by Esthete?
If you are looking to achieve speed and accuracy in construction, it has to be technology driven. The technologies we have adopted are Hybrid (combination of heavy and light steel frames) and LGSF (Light Gauge Steel Frame). LGSF is a completely software-driven technology as there are no manual hand cutting, measuring or drilling of the frames. All shaping, cutting and drilling are done by the machine itself. First of all, it starts with a plan of the building. This plan is fed to the software that is connected to a roll-forming CNC machine. This proprietary software is also a structural engineering software. It calculates the structural elements and makes a drawing of the frames within the software. It then communicates with the CNC machine and thereafter the machine takes a flat sheet of galvanized steel and it goes through the machine. This roll-forming machine is a kind of 3-d folding machine so it does all the folding, punching and drilling in the machine itself. It comes out as frame sections ready for assembly.
These systems are the fastest ways to build in India as of today. Another advan-tage is that the manpower needed to erect these buildings is easily trainable. Need for highly skilled masons are minimal.
Can the buildings be customized?
Yes, of course! The advantage of this type of prefab construction compared to other options available in the market is that it can be completely customized. The architect is free to design as per the client’s requirements. There are no restrictions in the size of the wall, spans or shapes. Any size of openings, any size of rooms can be made and that’s the biggest advantage. The machine reads the architectural drawings and accordingly the frames are created. The main thing that attracted me to this technological approach is that it assures freedom to architects and as far as my experience goes this is the fastest way to build a house in India. Next, we look forward to the 3d printed houses in the near future! But as of now, this is the most comfortable and approachable technology. The main difference between this technology and conventional building is that we do not use cement blocks, bricks or cement to build the walls. The walls consist of galvanized steel frame structure which is a load bearing structure. It is clad with fibre-reinforced cement panels on both the sides. The inside gap is filled with insulation. This has mulltiple advantages, one of course, it is lightweight and also thermally insulates the house and secondly, in regard earthquakes, it is highly resistive. The cost too is comparable with conventional constructions, and ordinary people could afford it too.
What are procedures being followed in regard to the assurance of the quality of galvanized steel?
We have certifications for the steel being used. We source our raw materials form reputed companies like Tata Steel, Jindal Steel Works etc. The yield strength of the steel is 550 mpa. There are all kinds of engineering calculations that go into the design of the steel structure before it goes into production. All these are tested and certified. Once the machine shapes the flat steel into the C-shaped frame structures, it becomes incredibly strong. The system is being used extensively in other countries and they are even building seven storey buildings using LGSF alone! Usually, we restrict it to ground plus three for LGSF. In India, the government has restricted the use of LGSF technology not be used beyond 5 storeys. For taller buildings and greater spans, we recommend hybrid methods, where we use a combination of ISMB girders etc. This is a recognized technology by the Government of India and now it is a standard method of construction all over. Though it does not look sustainable, ironically just as wood, but it is green by nature. It includes zero wastage provision and most importantly the material used can be further recycled. Steel, as you know, is the only material on earth that can be 100% recycled.
What is the foundation of this type of construction?
LGSF buildings are lightweight and usually a flat bed of lightly reinforced concrete slab is sufficient. It is only about 40 percent of the weight compared with brick and RCC construction. This means that two floors will be equal to one floor with regard to the buildings weight. Therefore, the foundation can also be lighter. If you are building four floors the foundation can be enough to take two floors of conventional building, so it does not need to go deeper and there is no need of heavier beams and so on. This also speeds up the construction.
How can this technology be adopted to current times, especially after ‘Affordable Housing Scheme’ being declared as well?
This technology has already been used over two years ago in Bangalore. The first project done through it was the Police Housing at Adugodi. But in North and North-East India, hundreds of projects are being made with this technology as it is prevalent from over 8 years there and is highly suitable for terrains where it is difficult to carry heavy materials. In Fact, we ourselves are building cottages in Ooty and in Coorg. The clients there compared this technology with others and they found this one to be most suited. This technology is not limited to hill terrains alone, it is suitable for all terrains and in urban context also. Major cost savings are possible if the construction involves large number of dwellings and vast areas.
Are there any restrictions in this technology for interior design styles?
There are no limitations or restrictions in the design of interior as far as the system is considered. For specific demands such as putting up paintings or photo frames, you can use a drywall screws (and not nails) which are easily available in the market. But if you want to hang something heavy such as an Air Conditioner or Shelf, you only have to see that your screws go through these metal frames inside. Some of the screws just need to anchor to these, that is all. This system can take tonnes of weight.