Technology interventions in architecture

Dera Baba Nanak Terminal Building

Text by: Prof. Charanjit Singh Shah

The shift in population to urban centres is happening at a very fast pace. The major cities are facing a lot of pressure, with urban issues, lack of infrastructure, crippling transportation facilities and many others. Perhaps in the coming decade, one will find a solution to this urban shift and transformation, thus creating new cities of tomorrow in India. The scale, volume, dimension and the overall city needs to be revamped, redesigned, redefined and redeveloped, but in a very sensitive, pragmatic, practical and humanistic way.

Global intervention in terms of technological advancements, methodology of the interface of redevelopment, and the processes of creating new infrastructure in the urban scenario, calls for interfaces that would eventually be the guiding spirit in realising the architectural concept, definition and the overall perspective of development. Creative Group has been fortunate to be able to deliver landmark projects, showcasing engineered innovative global interventions and transforming the same into architectural marvels.

state and city. They purposefully showcase the development of the nation, with an understanding of technology within the built environment and protecting the urban fabric within, while integrating the heritage and architecture of present times.

Chennai Airport: An amalgamation of engineering and architecture
For both the Domestic and International Terminals of the Chennai Airport, the structure essentially generates the design of the buildings where the built form is inspired from the wings of a bird. Repeating large, arching trusses offer great expanses of column-free public spaces, on both the city-side and the air-side. Steel as a building material enables the delivery of unrivalled performance. The building’s steel structure rises from a curved roof to form a naturally-lit, column- free terminal, with highly insulated transparent glass

Airport infrastructure projects are the gateways to the country, curtain walls that create a feeling of spaciousness. Skylights follow the geometry of the trusses, further opening the structural framework to allow natural light to permeate the terminal.

Some of the innovative engineered features at Chennai Airport are:

  1. The Largest Overhang—One of the largest overhangs in airport terminals across the world, spanning 24 metres.
  2. The Thinnest Flyover—A flyover, spanning approximately 1.2 km, connects both the international and domestic terminals. Steam-cured hollow box beams (400 mm thick) make a wafer-thin flyover, by virtue of which the façade is not compromised.
  3. The V Columns—The V columns and the thin crust flyover have been visualised by the architect to make sure that there is no compromise in the visibility of terminals, which are protected by large overhangs and facilitate total transparency by the virtue of having glass facades on seven sides. The V column shape tapers from 1067 mm diameter at mid height to 770 mm diameter at the ends. The height to the underside of roof trusses varies, which is approximately 16 m at the back of the trusses to about 30 m at the V-column above the Arrivals level, supporting the landside of the terminal. The truss heights are constant across the length of the terminal on the airside and are variable in height on the landside.
  4. The Arrival Bridge—The elliptical bridge or the arrival tube connects the landside with the airside operations through the central courtyard. The elliptical glass tube makes its way amidst the beautifully landscaped garden, and strengthens the alliance between man and nature. The 4-winged piers of the flyover are a unique combination of structure and architecture.


Innovations in material technologies have allowed us to adopt the following active and passive strategies in the terminal building and planning:

  • Waste water treated on site for irrigation and recycled
    flushing water
  • Storm water retained on site to recharge groundwater, by replacing hard park with green pavers of high porosity
  • Adoption of solid treatment plant and recycling water saves water consumption by 40 per cent
  • Thermal mass AAC walls
  • Heavily-insulated roof to minimise heat gain
  • Double insulated glass with specifications as to maximise daylight, while minimising heat gain and glare
  • Heavy foliage on the west side
  • The Kalzip Roofing system—an architectural standing seam with insulation and vapour barrier on top of metal deck liner, which has been curved to match the curve of the trusses
  • The structural glazing in the building employs a 24 mm thick double-insulated glazing unit with a 12mm air gap to minimise heat gain
  • TRESPA cladding that requires lesser energy during curing and is recyclable with 60 per cent of its renewable constituents
  • Parking area is totally devoid of hard surface, which has 95 per cent of water run-off and no percolation
  • Use of green pavers (High Impact Polypropylene) with over 90 per cent porosity recharges the ground water


    FBO Terminal at IGI Airport, Delhi

    The front façade uses bronze panels as a reflection of the fluidity and grace of the Indian saree, which is interpreted in a modern way by the use of CNC cutting wire mesh, with wooden panels inside offering a blend of nature. Another characteristic feature of the project is the use of radiant cooling—the use of cooled surfaces to remove sensible heat by radiation and convection.

    Due to pressure of integrated developments, last mile connectivity, mixed use and commercial establishments, the airspace needs to be visualised by layering the city horizontally and vertically, to create functional and usable parts of mini district centres, along with last mile connectivity and ease of public movement.

    Navi Mumbai Railway Stations

    The various systems of structure—in terms of large span through tubular trusses, space frames and portal frames—have been visualised and the structural components have been imagined, in creating an architectural vocabulary that manifests in the three railway stations in Navi Mumbai—at Targhar, Kharkopar and Bamandogri.

    Indian Railways has some of the biggest challenges of the present day. They are in a transformation mode, as no major revamping of the complete railway network has been visualised for the last 70 years since the independence of India. Major railway stations are now converted as epicentres of cities.

    We have also created futuristic structures for waterways and land ports, wherein engineering innovation plays a very sensitive and predominantly strong role, which can take a lead and also help in creating an architectural vocabulary of the modern era. Kartarpur corridor is one such landmark project conceived by our design studio within the past few months, as a symbol of peace and harmony