Surat Diamond Bourse designed to represent low-cost architecture approach

India gives shine to 75% of the rough diamonds sold globally, with Surat being the capital of this trade. Over 90% of the world’s diamond pieces are cut in Surat, contributing to about 80% of the Indian annual diamond export. At present, Bharat Diamond Bourse located in Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai, serves as the sole diamond trading hub for India. Due to inadequate suitable office spaces in the BDB, most of the traders and merchants conduct business from the BDB. Diamond merchants from Surat travel to Mumbai daily to conduct business. Whilst Surat is well-known for its diamond manufacturing sector and is home to many of the largest polishing factories, the city does not have a well-structured trading base.

These challenges prompted various diamantaires to establish a new bourse in Surat. This new international diamond bourse will eclipse the diamond exchanges in Mumbai, Israel and Belgium in terms of scale and activity further enabling the currently fragmented and unorganised diamond trading and polishing industry in India to organise itself in one place. It is also set to reduce the travel time for the merchants and provide them with affordable office spaces, thus addressing the daily problems of many small and medium level merchants who are often seen trading in the open landscaped courts and the corridors of BDB. It will further enable them to deal directly with their buyers by bringing all activities of cutting, polishing, manufacturing and trading under one roof.

This project is currently under construction on the National Highway in Surat, amidst the DREAM City (Diamond Research and Mercantile City) – anupcoming business district comprising of offices, residential areas and allied facilities. With an eye on providing a facilitating business environment to complement the diamond industry of the region, the project will be spread across 35.5 acres of land, with a total built-up area of 620,000sq m, making it the single largest office building in the world. It will consist of 4,500 offices varying in sizes from 28sq m to 7000sqm, thus resulting in affordable spaces for all.

Given the scale of the development, the primary challenge was to enable easy navigation for large volumes of people within the trading-time constraints. Functional proximities were governed by optimising travel distances from the site entrance to the farthest possible module within seven minutes.

All vertical circulation nodes such as staircases and elevators across each floor have been placed within one-minute walking distances of each other. This enables over 65,000 people daily to reach their respective offices in less than seven minutes from the point of entry into the complex.

The design strategy employed by the architects is one quite similar to that of an airport terminal, resulting in walkable corridors across all 15 floors. The complex will consist of multiple entry and exit points along the edge of the site to distribute peak hour traffic and enhance accessibility. Furthermore, separate entrances for services and customs will aid in reducing traffic congestion and ensure seamless movement of approximately 10,000 vehicles each day. The building is planned along a central axis aligned with the prevalent wind direction. The north- south oriented towers provide glare-free daylit offices accommodating functions of trading and selling of diamonds, customs, etc. The central spine is used for interconnection between the towers on every level which are designed as an interactive hub comprising of break-out spaces, green atriums and a host of visual experiences that encourage social cohesion and community engagement. The building form aims at maximising the potential of self-shading, thereby reducing dependency on mechanical forms of cooling. The use of dense vegetation within the building not only has psychological advantage but also improves the indoor air quality whereas outdoor spaces have been designed in nine landscaped courts that provide thermal comfort.

The project represents an innovative approach to low-cost architecture designed with maximum spatial efficiency. Modular structural grids align efficient parking layouts, saving 25 per cent of the construction area. The naturally lit workspaces allow for flexible interiors, keeping in consideration any future changes in user requirements. The design of the two basements have structural innovations that help avoid the need for pile foundation, which would be typical in this area, thereby bringing the cost down. The firm’s design employs passive strategies integrating solar control, air movement, orientation and creation of a productive microclimate. A combination of materials with high thermal mass and high porosity in relevant areas results in low external heat gains and therefore lower cooling loads. Hybrid climate-systems integrate strategies for natural ventilation, dedicated outdoor air distribution systems combined with heat-recovery wheel and passive dehumidification wheel will be used to supply fresh air. The building has been pre-certified IGBC Platinum and will feature rainwater harvesting systems, photovoltaic power generation, a grey water system, local construction materials, amongst other such efficient systems. A 600kW rooftop solar plant will generate up to 900MW of theannual energy demand, largely contributing to the net-zero targets. Integrated HVAC systems involving radiant floor cooling and natural ventilation have been provided to achieve an efficiency of 7000sq ft/TR, consuming less than 1.0kW/TR of energy. Elevated airspeed strategies further enable higher thermostat temperatures without compromising thermal comfort. The transition from offices at approximately 24oC has been consciously raised to about 26oC in lift lobbies and common areas, and a further 30oC in the central spine.

The project is a shared vision of one community to make Surat the world’s largest hub for the diamond industry. It aims to be an exemplar for integrating high density architecture along with sustainable design. The bourse shall form the heart of the central business district and act as an incubator by attracting regional development with allied civic amenities such as hospitals, sports complexes, five-star hotels, convention centres and educational institutes. Currently, the diamond industry in Gujarat employs more than seven lakh people with majority based in Surat. Once completed, the Surat Diamond Bourse is estimated to provide employment opportunities to lakhs of people and generate tourism in the area, thus boosting economy of the region.

FACTFILE

PROJECT: Surat Diamond Bourse, Surat

ARCHITECTS: Morphogenesis, New Delhi

Client: Surat Diamond Bourse

Consultants: Structural & Civil – Jw Consultants Llp; Mep & Hvac – Aecom – Pmc Masters

Built-up area: 65,00,000sq ft | 35 Acre

Year of completion: Under construction