Defence Office Complexes: How Ministry of Defence officials’ new workplace was completed amid a pandemic

To learn more about the complexes, Financial Express Online spoke to GPM Architects and Planners Managing Director Gian P Mathur.

Defence Office Complexes: How Ministry of Defence officials’ new workplace was completed amid a pandemic
These complexes are strategically important to the country, and therefore, require high safety. (Images via GPM Architects)

Defence Office Complexes: The new Defence Office Complexes were recently inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at KG Marg and Africa Avenue. The projects were completed within a span of 12 months, which means that the entire construction had been done at a time when the coronavirus pandemic brought the construction sector to a standstill. Built across a total area of 93,000 square metres, the new Defence Office Complexes have the capacity to accommodate about 7,000 officials of the Ministry of Defence as well as the Armed Forces. The complexes have been designed by GPM Architects and Planners and they not only have state-of-the-art facilities but are also energy efficient.

To learn more about the complexes, Financial Express Online spoke to GPM Architects and Planners Managing Director Gian P Mathur.

Speaking about the measures taken to ensure that the construction of the complexes was completed even in the middle of the pandemic, Mathur said, “The enhanced acceptance of new construction technologies and industry practices has helped us sail through the project’s difficulties and complete the construction in a record time. One of the defining features of these buildings — the use of new and sustainable construction technology called LGSF (Light gauge steel frame) — has proved to be quite time-saving in contrast to conventional RCC construction. To further reduce the construction time, we have used pre-engineered structural members such as structural steel columns and beams. The use of standardised materials, PEB structures, and modular practices like aluminium formwork and jump formwork also substantiated to be very effective in completing the project quickly, even during an ongoing pandemic.”

Africa Avenue Site Plan (Image via GPM Architects)

“The past year has been challenging, but a change in approach and imbibing new practices into the design has helped us tide over the crisis. Bringing in modular design and new technologies for such large-scale projects can save time and ensure quality, leading to a rise in the frequency of construction. The defence office complexes are the manifestation of changing work culture and priorities of the government with the optimal and proper use of available land. This project has the potential to be an example of how today, we can speed up construction while minimising activity on-site and without disturbing the natural environment,” the MD added.

The Defence Offices Complexes are a crucial part of the defence infrastructure in the country. Mathur shared some of the key aspects of the newly built complexes. “The new Defence Office Complexes are designed to relocate the existing defence establishments and accommodate around 7,000 officials from the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces. The office complexes consist of 7 blocks — three nine-storeyed (G+8) buildings at KG Marg and four eight-storeyed (G+7) blocks at Africa Avenue, several multilevel car parking blocks and service blocks. The buildings are state-of-the-art and energy-efficient, with comprehensive security management measures, providing modern, secure, and functional working spaces. A significant shift in the design strategy was to create large column-free spaces that can offer a chance to introduce flexibility into the buildings so that they can be made adaptable as per need. The movement of vehicles is restricted to the periphery of the complexes for enhanced pedestrian circulation and a minimum 6m wide driveway is provided around the campus for the movement of fire trucks,” he explained.

But what makes these complexes energy efficient? “As a CPWD certified green building, the design utilises energy-efficient green technology, promoting environment-friendly practices. The building blocks are planned to ensure no existing trees are cut on-site. Additionally, a combination of evergreen, deciduous, flowering trees are planted to provide shade and enhance air quality. To further keep the air quality in check, air quality monitoring devices are used. Other sustainable practices used in the project include rainwater harvesting and the treatment of wastewater. Part of the treated wastewater is utilised for flushing, using dual plumbing systems, and gardening, while the surplus is supplied to the New Delhi Municipal Council,” he said.

“Structurally, consisting of pre-engineered structural components, only nuts and bolts were used for assembly on-site without any requirement for welding, thus saving on energy consumption and avoiding the emission of toxic gases and smoke. Moreover, 75% recycled and fly ash content materials are used to reduce any environmental impact. The ventilated Terracotta façade reduces solar heat gain, reducing air conditioning load and saving energy by 30%. The main grid is connected to solar panels of 520 KWp capacity and the solar energy generated is used for solar supported street lights. Additionally, the use of occupancy sensor-based lighting systems and air conditioning systems saves unwanted wastage of electricity, reducing energy consumption,” Mathur shared.

KG Marg Site Plan (Image via GPM Architects)

He also spoke about the kind of material that has been used in the construction of the Defence Office Complexes. “Prefabricated steel components are used for the project to minimise pollution activities and wastage of water on site. The external and internal walls are executed with the help of LGSF, cement board and gypsum boards. Bamboo floorings are used for interior spaces instead of hardwood flooring. Keeping in mind the global office trends, the interiors of the buildings have a strong sense of space planning, use of technology and materials. Easy to install, maintain and durable materials that are fire-rated, energy-efficient and aesthetically pleasing are used to design the workplaces. The building has a dynamic facade cladded with ventilated terracotta tiles to provide thermal comfort. Being a low maintenance material, it provides acoustic insulation from the outside, which reduces noise levels up to 15%. The solid mass of the envelope is broken down by the addition of large clear glazed windows bringing adequate natural light. FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic) panel tanks are used as overhead water tanks instead of conventional RCC water tanks,” the MD said.

These complexes are strategically important to the country, and therefore, require high safety. “Comprehensive security management measures are also implemented within the buildings considering that these office spaces shall be used by defence personnel. An integrated command and control centre is established for managing building operations while also catering to the end-to-end safety and surveillance of the buildings. The entire perimeter of the campus is secured by installing solar fencing along the boundary wall. Vehicular entry to the site is restricted, and entry and exit are RFID operated with features such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition and Under Vehicle Scanning System. The entry and exit of visitors are also controlled and monitored using a secure visitor management system,” Mathur shared.

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