Designs for Tech-ready Future
India as a destination is gaining prominence with several global IT firms setting up their innovation centres here. No wonder, Science and Technology Parks (STPs), even entire cities are being built around IT & ITeS sector. Realty Plus examines the design aspect of such projects.
The Indian IT and ITeS industry is divided into four major segments – Information Technology services, Business Process Management (BPM), software products and engineering services, and hardware. It remained the world’s top IT sourcing destination in 2016-17 with a share of 55 per cent and Indian IT & ITeS companies have set up over 1,000 global delivery centres in over 200 cities around the world.
More importantly, the Indian IT sector is one of the biggest and fastest growing markets and has led the economic transformation of the country. The IT sector has also created significant demand for specialized real-estate development that can cater to the specific requirements of the industry.
The IT industry as a whole in India comprises of
- Hardware that includes – computing – networking hardware – peripheral (IT infrastructure)
- Software & IT Services that includes – custom – packaged software – IT services – IT training
- IT-Enabled Services that includes – business – knowledge processes outsourced
Many state governments are encouraging technology park developments by providing flexible land use policies and FSI incentives that permit the developer to build mixed use cluster IT space with good financial returns.
Technology Park Definition
Information Technology (IT) or Technology parks are integrated developments designed to encourage the growth of technology -based industries as well as research and production of advanced technologies. These complexes facilitate synergies among various technology-based companies resident on site. Tenants of STPs are usually a mix of large firms (anchor organizations) and small entrepreneurial firms. The planning of the project provides infrastructure like high-speed data communication, cables, Wi-Fi provisions, indoor & outdoor break-out areas for employees, sports & leisure facilities, retail and hotels along with landscaped green surroundings. Easy connectivity to city centre, availability of skilled employees and nearby residential areas is the prerequisite for an IT park project development. In India, IT parks are mostly located in and around Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai and Kolkata.
The Indian Government´s supportive policy has worked as a catalyst for the development of several IT parks and SEZs. Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) scheme under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology provides end number of benefits to registered units, including 100-per-cent foreign equity, tax incentives and duty-free import and indigenous procurement.
A key element in designing an IT park is the arrangement of structures, parking, circulation and how the open spaces relate to the surrounding environment. Aesthetically a visual continuity of the architecture in mass, scale and materials is important.
Architect Rajan Goregaokar, Founder, GA Design, said, “The planning should be such that the buildings are not the dominant factor. Their placement should be such to emphasize plazas, courtyards and informal sit outs. Spill out areas should be designed for campus canteens, fitness gyms, nurseries and similar amenities. Smaller outdoor spaces could offer informal meeting and greeting areas as well as shading and seating for groups of individuals.
It is important that the site is designed in such a way that there is minimum conflict between the pedestrian and the vehicular drive ways. The internal circulation of the parking should promote safety and efficiency and convenience. A continuous circulation pattern should be provided to the extent possible. Auxiliary structures such as trash enclosures, loading and un-loading areas should be concealed from the public view and appropriately designed.”
Technology is used in IT park planning and construction to represent value for money in terms of speed, services provided, compatibility, cost and reliability. The building materials need to be of recyclable components, ergonomically sound and energy efficient.
Manit Rastogi, Founder Partner, Morphogenesis explained, “Design of the built envelope is governed by carefully balancing shade, glare, daylight distribution, solar heat gain reduction. Solar control for the external facade primarily involves shading devices designed with conscious attention to controlling glare without hampering the daylight distribution. Thermal comfort has proven to be crucial in achieving occupant satisfaction as well as workplace productivity.”
Building Information Modelling (BIM) has become the main design approach in building design & construction. The computerized system helps in collecting and collating information about the entire complex under construction. Goregaokar, stated, “BIM greatly enhances the communication among engineers and designers that are working on the project. Computer aided designing helps in designing flawless buildings as through computer simulations problems can be found and resolved before constructing buildings physically.”
Apart from the efficient building planning and design, working spaces demand consistent and controlled indoor environments for minimal distraction during focused tasks. Talking about the interior work environment technology requirements Rastogi elaborated, “The cooling loads can be significantly reduced by integrating climate-responsive passive strategies like microclimate creation and robust envelope design. The resultant energy loads, however minimal, need to be countered with highly efficient and optimised active systems like daylight, CO2 sensors, hybrid cooling systems etc. to achieve the desired comfort levels indoors. Innovative mechanical cooling systems including radiant cooling, under-floor systems as well as ceiling fans are often explored in exclusive as well as combination scenarios. These systems are further value-engineered to minimise the energy consumption to the last bit. Sufficing the project demands by alternative renewable resources completes the full circle to finally achieve a Net-Zero Development.”
Some of the technologies being used for IT Parks design include:
- Styrofoam Panels
Styrofoam panels are actually EPS foam that is sealed between steel sheets for strength and this foam works as thermal resistor. It not only has heat resistance but also has capacity to endure the wind speed up to 140 mph.. As it laminates the foam in steel sheets that make it safer from termites, as they can’t invade steel sheets. The durability and strength of Styrofoam make buildings long lasting and cleaner than buildings constructed with other materials.
- Unbounded PT Slabs
The slabs are considered reliable for their quality and strength as their steel strands are greased well to resist rusting. The unbonded PT slabs are light weight and flexible due to small thickness of its unbonded tendon. Due to this reason, unbonded PT slab patterns are able to make best use of complete strength of a concrete slab. These are successfully used at different places such as on roofs, pavements, and even in the round water tanks.
A building automation system, or BAS, is a centralized control system which monitors an entire building’s functionality including heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), lighting systems, and often water, fire and life safety. These systems are interconnected, into a unified system, which drives down building costs as well as energy consumption.
- Wireless systems
Rapid advancement of wi-fi systems is influencing the work environment in a big way. Fiber Optics gives very high internet connectivity and provide high speed internet.
- Air filter systems
Air filter is a device composed of fibrous materials which removes solid particulates such as dust, pollen, mould, and bacteria from the air. Air filters are used in data server rooms and applications where air quality is important, The current 2.5 air purifier systems are the latest in Air Purifying technologies which are used in large work environment areas.
The Future Potential
IT parks have played very crucial role in the growth of IT, especially the software business. Indian IT parks have gained popularity at international platform as well for their state of the art infrastructure, world class working conditions and amenities. Therefore, there lies an immense opportunity ahead for technology parks & complexes developments across Indian states. With the Smart city initiatives, the tier II and II cities are becoming the favourable destination for technology parks set-up. Developers like DLF, L&T, RMZ Corp, Mantri Developers, K Raheja Corp, Ascendas, RNA Corp, Tata Realty, Shapoorji Pallonji, Hiranandani and Emaar, among others are developing IT Parks & SEZs.
“Generally, a mid to large parcel of land is required to build a good IT complex because we want to create something which will cater to the IT professional’s lifestyle. Connectivity is kept in mind. Also, in the age of smart phones, construction too needs to be smart – not just save but even conserve energy.
The other important factor is selecting a location which should be fairly future proof – in the sense it should not be a saturated locality but one that will take in growth for over a decade at least. For instance, Infinity catalysed the IT revolution in Eastern India through Infinity Think Tank, the first ‘intelligent’ IT empowered workspace in Kolkata in a then-deserted Salt Lake, Sector-V.
We are very conscious of keeping our IT complexes Green. As a group, Infinity has had a record of ‘Green Buildings’ before such a term being the norm. So, obviously for us that is one of the prime considerations. E.g. Infinity IT Lagoon which is an IGBC Certified Platinum rated Green commercial development in the eastern region by Crisil and Credai.”
-Ravindra Chamaria, Managing Director and Chairman of Infinity Infotech Parks Limited