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GREEN SCREEN: VVIP Circuit House

Sunil Patil and Associates designs a sustainable and green building

Words: Lean Karl Duanan
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The VIP entryway is designed with a grand porch and a helipad on top.

“Sustainability” has become the common concept of numerous disciplines of various industries in the past few years. The reason for its popularity in the field of architecture is to design and construct a sustainable living environment, one that would inhale development but still exhale ample amounts of clean air to its surroundings.

As green technologies advance at monumental pace, architects around the world are following suit, offering progressively innovative interpretations of sustainable trends. Practices like Sunil Patil and Associates are leading the charge in India with their green design philosophies applied to the VVIP Circuit House, a government public building that bagged them a 5-Star GRIHA Certification.

The project site is located in Pune – political hub for western Maharashtra in India. The Circuit House accommodates the VIP authorities and serves as a hub for government authorities’ political meetings, discussions, and conferences. The project is mainly divided into two parts: accommodation provided by the guest suites, and the public areas which are the conference and meeting hall facilities, dining, reception, VIP and visitor’s waiting areas.

The circuit house is designed following all passive strategies of planning, fenestration, and zoning.
The circular mass in the conference room and glass bridges are connecting passage between north & south wings. Pergolas are designed in such a way that it creates shadows over the courtyard.

Project Technology

The Circuit House attempts to minimize its carbon footprints by closely monitoring the number of resources consumed in the building’s construction, and its use and operation through the following technologies:

• Primarily being a RCC structure, the Circuit house makes use of steel in its structure to achieve slender columns and to span longer distances.

• The exterior walls are exposed RCC walls for which self-compacted concrete was used. Glenium B 276 was used as an admixture to achieve the same.

• Up-to 35% of fly ash was used in concrete and mortar.

• The use of AAC blocks as infill for non-structural walls helped to reduce the dead load on the building.

• One of the key features of this building is the steel trussed bridge which helps to span longer, without the help of intermediate supports.

• Use of composite structures to avoid large numbers of intermediate tie beams.

Architect Sunil Patil
A semi-open waiting area and the conference above connecting the passages at different levels are a part of the courtyard and the water body. These form the focal point of the building.

“Architecture shall adhere to its time, the era, in which it is built.” – Ar. Sunil Patil

Design

Sunil Patil and Associates believes that architecture determines the period of different civilizations.

In last two decades, India has seen post-modernist architecture become detrimental to the growth of its own architectural style. Their government buildings are still following the lavish and detailed Old European architectural styles. Considering the country’s climate and resources, this style is already unsustainable as it consumes high energy because of the basic lacuna in the planning and design. The Circuit House is an attempt to calibrate this architectural style with the time and use. Sunil Patil and Associates designed The Circuit House with a contemporary vernacular architecture which follows the vernacular ethos in architectural planning in contemporary style.

Along with advance technologies and innovative strategies to achieve energy efficiency, the focus of the design is based on climate responsive architecture with passive strategies for thermal and visual comfort.

The focal point of the building, the shaded courtyard (with all passages around it leading to suites), is a highly contemporary version of the old chowk of traditional Wadas of Pune with interiors and landscape seamlessly merging with architecture. It is well protected from sun yet allowing plenty of natural ventilation.

The facade of the building responds to this orientation. Transition spaces play a key role in achieving thermal and visual comfort. Energy efficiency is achieved in terms of lighting, water, HVAC and materials.

Heat gains heat and glare in the south facade are curbed through terraces designed as a buffer between inner and outer skin. Louvers are used to allow light and achieve thermal environmental comfort.

The building's interior décor shows innovation and originality, all seamlessly integrated with the architectural style.
The dining area in the VIP suite is well lit and ventilated, with a grand interior décor in harmony with the architecture.
The VIP suite's interior décor is meant to be in harmony with the green architecture of the building.
A conference room is designed professionally, with its oval table enhanced through the ceiling details and curve of its furniture.

Materials

Materials were chosen thoughtfully and procured locally.

• High-quality roof insulation to reduce heat gains.

• AAC blocks as an infill to reduce the dead load on the structure. This also bargained the use of mortar and water during construction.

• Concrete and steel are the main materials used for structure.

• Recycled ceramic tiles have been used for flooring in suites. Granite has been used for all common areas.

• With the exterior walls being exposed RCC wall, 35% of fly ash was used while preparing the mixture.

• Exposed concrete is used as a permanent finish to the building to avoid the repeated maintenance requirement.

• Double glazed glass as been used in appropriate places, hence reducing solar heat gain without compromising on the admittance of daylight . This helped to further reduce the load on air conditioning.

• FSC-certified wood based materials and all low VOC materials have been used in interior works.

• Louvered facades have been created which has resulted in achieving the diffused natural lighting. It has also enhanced the harmony between the inner and outer environment.

The dining area is spacious enough for guests. It has a grand view of the neighboring golf course on one side and courtyard on the other.
The courtyard acts as a micro climate modifier, while the pergolas create an interesting play of shades and shadows throughout the day.

From top to bottom, left to right

• Master Plan

• Ground Floor

• Basement

• First Floor

• Second Floor

From top to bottom

• Section AA

• Section BB

• Elevation: West Side

• Elevation: North Side

Points Of Green Status

1. Strategic Orientation and Planning

The residential zone lies on the north and the south, where the solar radiations can be cut with the help of shading devices. So when occupied, the units allow good ventilation because the harsh western sun does not affect the occupants directly. The sun in the east side, which has dining area, CM and DCM suites, is taken care of by the overhangs.

2. Tastefully-designed Water Bodies

Considering the hot and dry climate of Pune, Sunil Patil and Associates introduced water bodies in the project’s design for evaporative cooling. These water bodies also act as micro-climate modifier and help in coiling of the public areas.

3. Climate Responsive Building Envelope

Each facade in The Circuit House is designed while taking into consideration its orientation and function. The design is based on solar passive, climate responsive architecture. All the areas are naturally lit during the day and ventilated with shading devices designed to control glare and heat gain. Vertical and horizontal louvers have been used for south and west facade to cut the solar radiation.

4. Use of Eco-Friendly Materials

In this project, AAC blocks have been used for walls to reduce dead load on the structure. These blocks are fixed together with adhesives. Saving a lot of mortar and water during construction. Recycled ceramic tiles have been used for flooring in suites, and granite has been used for all common areas. Roof insulation and glass significantly reduced heat gains. Utilization of fly ash in reinforced concrete and masonry mortar is up to 35%. FSC-certified wood based materials and all low VOC materials have been used in interior works.

5. Passive Cooling Strategy

The Circuit House uses natural ventilation in the building’s common areas, such as reception, waiting, and dining areas; thereby reducing HVAC demand. This form of strategy limits the total effect of the heat gain to provide the house’s interior a temperature lower than that of the dry, humid, and hot weather of Pune.

Moreover, unlike rooms in conventional hotels, all The Circle House suites and conference rooms have operational double glazed windows with low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient that the occupants can open during cool-weathered days.

Lastly, the building’s highly efficient HVAC system (VRV) brings down the energy performance index (EPI) of the building.

6. Good Water Management

Water management is done through various strategies. There is reduction in irrigation water demand by 48%. 90% of hot water demand is catered by heat pump based hot water system. Efficient water fixtures have been used, resulting in 50% water conservation. Sewage treatment plant is installed on site and the treated water is used for irrigation.

7. Transition Spaces

The principal areas of the building maintain the desired thermal comfort levels with the help of transition spaces. The suites on the south side have terraces on exterior façade, leading to the courtyard. This sequential experience plays a very important role in achieving comfort for its guests.

8. Energy Efficiency

52.81 % reduction in building energy performance index is seen in The Circuit House’s design. 22 kilowatt-solar photovoltaic renewable energy plant is designed to cater more than 30% of artificial lighting. Heat pump-based water system are also installed in this project, reducing hot water demand to up to 90%. Air-conditioning is design with VRV system.

Building execution is done with all safety measures & procedures, innovative green construction techniques, and effective air and noise pollution control measures.

Saving The Lung

As our modern world’s architecture is already considered a threat to our planet, architects, designers, and contractors have to be conscious when developing the earth. We have to realize that green and sustainable architecture goes beyond being a trend, to being a measure meant to save our last lung, the earth we live in. Sustainable green architecture should always be the basic ethos for all the development. D+C

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