PSP Architects India
Name of the project, location: Staff Housing, Chhattisgarh, India
Name of the firm, location: PSP Architects (P) Ltd., Chennai, India
Client: Monnet Ispat and Energy Limited,New Delhi
Design team: Ajay Sethi, Suniil Philiip
Consultants: RSM Engineering (Structural), Pahuja and Associates (Plumbing), KC Datta (Electrical)
Contractors: Multiple local contractors coordinated by client
Built-up area: 1,50,000 sq. ft.
Cost of project: 15 Crores
Year of completion: 2007
The project involved developing a 25 acre site situated in close proximity to the company steel plant. The site is about 15 kilometers away from the city of Raipur, in central India. The area generally experiences hot summers and mild winters, with a fairly wet monsoon period towards the middle of the year. The land around the site is devoid of much tree cover except in pockets near the natural ponds that are formed after the rains.
Monnet Ispat has its steel plant here, and the program included the construction of staff housing and community buildings with a total covered area of about 1,50,000 sq. ft. A master plan was developed to allow for current and future growth and the self sufficient Phase I of the project was completed in 2006. With an increasing demand for steel in the Indian market and the proportional increase in the companies production, Phase 2 of the project, which was planned as a future development, was also completed by December 2007. Phase 2 densities were increased to allow yet another phase in the future, however retaining what is still a low density development not usually possible when building for developers at the current price of land.
- Well defined Public and Private spaces.
- Definition carried through from the master plan scale to the individual unit scale.
- Extensive landscaped greens and pedestrian zones.
- Built on a low budget.
- Locally available materials used extensively.
- Re-use of materials which were by-products of the company steel plant.
- Color used as a design tool to lift the buildings out of their stark surroundings.
Division at the master plan level
The master plan envisages well defined public and private spaces. A single entry road is bifurcated such that the residential development pulls away to one side and the more public buildings are contained on the other.
Each living unit further enhances the public-private demarcation with common open front yards and private back yard spaces. The overall development is arranged around the periphery leaving a large green ‘pedestrian only’ space carved out in the middle, again helped by the low density requirement as compared that of a private builder.
Color is used to lift the buildings out of the stark surroundings with extensive landscaping supplementing the scheme. A teracotta red colour draws attention to the largest building in the development. The surrounding areas are stark, and the school stands as a welcome relief in the landscaped greens. The housing currently in grey, is being painted yellow ochre as per the original scheme.
The School was built in two stages, first the primary and admin blocks, as shown in the plan, and followed by the secondary school which was completed recently. It caters to the needs of the staff as well as for the local children from the surrounding villages. The design aims to achieve naturally lit and well ventilated classrooms and corridors. Generous sized multi-use spaces try to give this school more than just classrooms for learning.
Internal areas are lit by clearstorey lighting from above. The corridor dissolves in areas to let the light into the lower level. The form of the building is determined by this light bringing section. In plan, areas are carved away to reveal well lit but protected multi-use spaces.
The original brief required independent and segregated areas for the various house types. The master plan convinced the clients to allow a mixed type clustered around open green spaces. It went further to suggest common open areas in front to create a sense of openness and community.
Type A, 3 Bedroom, independent units.
Common open front yards were meant to establish a common interaction zone even with the independent house type. Double volume balconies open out into private back yards, establish sense of space.
Type B, 2 bedroom and Type C,1 Bedroom units.
The two bedroom B units sit on the ground floor with private back yards. The single bedroom C unit has a generous terrace on the first floor.
Use of local materials
The project was planned with a very tight budget with no room for extras. Lower costs were also achieved as some of the materials required for construction were available from the site itself.
Fly ash and slag, both by products of the steel plant are used extensively. Power to the colony is also generated inhouse, a by-product of the heat generating steel process. The project attempts to be gentle on the resources used and this is aided by the local construction practices and ideology.