Indian cities are witnessing a steep growth in the number of high-rise structures owing to the increased migration of people to cities. With the advent of modern technology, constructing a high-rise building is perhaps a feasible way to serve housing demand. This prompted SOBHA to conceive the idea of building a ‘vertical city’.
High-rises have the potential to prevent over-crowding at the ground level while efficiently housing a greater number of families in a lesser space. Tall buildings translate to more public spaces, more agricultural land, as well as parks, forests, or even open spaces, leaving the ground free for a vibrant life.
Chennai boasts of magnificent buildings built by the British that have stood the test of time. From railway stations to museums as well as iconic buildings designed in Georgian and Indo-Saracenic styles, the city always had a fondness for English architecture. So much so that England’s Winchester has come to Chennai’s Kovilambakkam Road as SOBHA Winchester.
The inspiration for SOBHA Winchester’s building elements, façade, aesthetics, and even the name of the project comes from Winchester – a cathedral city in Hampshire, England. Steeped in history, Winchester is home to medieval and Georgian buildings and offers a peek into Britain’s glorious past. It is a perfect balance of the quiet countryside and the city life, much like Kovilambakkam.
Victorian-style fountains, gazebos, and other thoughtfully crafted socialising areas line the complex. The swimming pool is raised to offer privacy while allowing the water to cascade, making it a pleasant sight.
SOBHA Winchester amalgamates medieval architecture and India’s traditional Vaastu system. Each apartment has been built keeping in mind the functionality, lighting, ventilation, and aesthetic aspects of internal arrangement.
Structural Design & Technology
SOBHA Winchester is set on a 4.3-acre land. An 18-metre access road leads to the 20-storeyed blocks which are strategically crafted along the boundary to pave the way for an interactive central plaza. These blocks comprise 1, 2, 3, and 4 BHKs with world-class amenities.
Since the project comprises 4 blocks of different configurations, the structural designers had to design the towers with isolated footings and as a concrete-framed structure. Basements are designed with exhaust system connected with a jet fan, axial fan, and smoke sensors to ensure optimum ventilation. Terrace floors are protected with light-weight concrete and white reflective ceramic tiles to ensure thermal comfort for the apartments below.
- Front portion of the land is oddly shaped and was posing a hindrance to create an expansive, lush complex. The team tackled this challenge by creating a boulevard, dotted with palm trees leading up to the blocks. This not only shrouded the odd shape, but also glamourised the driveway.
- The swimming pool was first designed along the driveway, which raised privacy concerns. This issue was addressed by raising the swimming pool to a higher level which also doubled as a water cascade for the entrance.
- During excavation, the team realised that the water table had risen to high levels contrary to what the initial soil investigation report revealed. Structural engineers had to design 800 mm thick mass concrete counterweight to reduce uplift pressure due to rising ground water levels. As a result, the foundation system is a combination of isolated and combined footings.
- Bituminous membrane treatment was planned to ensure waterproofing in the basement.
- Aluminum window design: the wind load with heavy rainfall, cyclones like Varadah in Chennai gave rise to a lot of issues with aluminum windows and doors. With such natural calamities in mind, we had to revisit the window section designs. Endurance tests were performed on apartment windows by simulating heavy rainfall, strong wind, and a combination of both to gauge its structural stability. They were designed for a minimum wind pressure of 2000 pa, which is equal to 207 km/h wind speed (maximum speed of cyclone Vardah was 150 km/h to 160 km/h).
Chennai is known for its depleting water levels. SOBHA Winchester is equipped with the following methods to conserve water:
Rainwater Harvesting: The rainwater from rooftops is collected in dedicated tanks of 200 kl. capacity. This can cater to around 18 days of freshwater requirement. The water is further treated to the existing water standards and used for drinking purpose.
Sewage Treatment Plant: Full occupancy is expected to generate around 223 kl. of sewage daily. This will be treated in an STP of 245 kl/d capacity. The treated water from here will be used for flushing, landscaping, floor and car washing etc. – thereby reducing freshwater demand by about 37%. The remaining treated water will be used for avenue plantation in the locality.
Provision for Water Treatment Plant (WTP): A common water treatment plant of 15 m3/h has been provided. This ensures reduced wastage of water associated with RO plants in individual households. The sources of water are roof rainwater, subsurface well water, and external water supply from panchayat. Rejects from the RO will be mixed with the STP treated water and used for landscaping.
Saving electricity translates to reduced energy costs and significantly lowers carbon dioxide emissions. SOBHA Winchester uses solar-powered lighting in the common area. It comes with a daylight sensor which will turn on only when it senses movement.
In a bid to further conserve electricity, the complex is fitted with an Astronomical Timer that switches on and off automatically depending on the time of day and movement.
Solar panels of 1.8 kW. capacity have been placed on the uppermost floor to provide hot water, thereby reducing dependency on external power sources.
Solid Waste Management
An integrated solid waste management system has been provided where waste is segregated at source – the household – into biodegradable and inorganic wastes.
Given the enormity of SOBHA Winchester, around 543 kg of biodegradable waste is estimated to be generated every day. This will be further treated in an Organic Waste Converter (OWC), and the end product will be utilized for gardening.
Fire safety measures include prevention of a fire break out and appropriate firefighting equipment.
Hydrants and Wet Risers
The four towers and the clubhouse are covered in 10 external yard hydrants. All floors are equipped with an internal hydrant and a wet riser with required fire aid hose reels and delivery hoses to protect buildings internally.
Fire Alarm and PA System
PA systems are installed near the staircase of all floors. These will raise an alarm during a fire and help communicate between floors and the fire alarm control room.
Automatic sprinklers are provided on both floors of the clubhouse. Additionally, smoke detectors are installed to sound an alarm in case of fire.
Each flat is provided with a 2 kg carbon dioxide type extinguisher and an ABC 6 kg extinguisher is placed at corridor lobbies. The car parking is also equipped with an ABC 6 kg extinguisher.
Signage and fire order instructions as mandated are displayed at floors and basements for easier identification of exits and for an orderly evacuation of buildings on a fire call, thus informing the nearest fire stations too.
Pumps and Sump
A hydrant, sprinkler and one standby DG pump are provided in the basement. 200 kl. of underground tank and 10 kl. of overhead tank are placed on each tower to provide water in case of an emergency.
High-rise buildings are a measurable indication of the future that we’re heading towards. With more and more impressive structures towering over us, millions of people will aspire to live on the highest floors to get a panoramic view of the city. Using cutting-edge technology to develop an efficient building management system to provide safety and security is imperative, albeit challenging. Quality building materials and carefully thought-out plans are the way to address the challenges.