Building Smart India: How to construct buildings that can withstand natural calamities and adverse weather conditions
To build a structure that can survive the natural catastrophe we need to take due diligence of the extent of the calamity the locality may face such as flooding or earthquake.
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In this era of technological revolution, technology has been at the helm of the growth for every sector, one of which is real estate. Newer construction technologies have facilitated the construction world with superior structure quality and strength but have they really made these structures strong enough to withstand natural calamities? How can we ensure the survivability of the building in the adverse weather conditions?
To build a structure that can survive the natural catastrophe we need to take due diligence of the extent of the calamity the locality may face such as flooding or earthquake. Let’s look at the few things to keep in mind to ensure a better structural strength of the buildings to survive natural adversity.
A strong foundation
A solid foundation ensures a better structural strength of a building. The main purpose of the foundation is to hold the structure constructed above it and keep it upright. On the contrary, a weak foundation can be dangerous to the occupants and the neighborhood. With high-rise buildings touching the sky these days, it has become fundamental for buildings to have powerful foundations. Building a strong foundation involves various steps. Following are the steps to ensure a strong foundation of the building:
- Thorough soil investigation: It is important to determine the strength and compressibility characteristics of the soil. It involves the study of groundwater level conditions and collection of water samples for chemical analysis
- Contouring: Contouring in surveying is the determination of elevation of various points on the ground and fixing these points of same horizontal positions in the contour map.
- Overdesign the load-bearing capacity of the foundation: The term 'bearing capacity' refers to the capability of the soil to support applied loads that are acting on it. In the construction business, this normally relates to the capacity of soil to hold up building foundations, in which case, the bearing capacity can be calculated from the maximum average contact pressure between the foundation and the soil.
- Strengthening the foundation through a continuous pour process: This process involves the continuous pouring of the concrete mixture. To do it correctly we need to ensure that the correct mixture of concrete is being poured. If there is not enough water, or too much mix, the concrete will not dry correctly.
- To give sufficient time and use modern curing compound: Curing compounds play a vital role in strengthening the concrete mixture. These compounds help in preventing the loss of moisture content from the concrete. So that the concrete is properly cured which results in the full development of strength of concrete.
- Anti-termite treatment and waterproofing treatment as per the international standards: To fight the threat of termites, you must get an expert to spray anti-termite chemicals at various stages of the construction of the foundation. Waterproofing treatment is required to prevent deterioration and seepage of water into the foundation.
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Anticipating the extent of the adversity in the planning stage
When the construction is in the planning stage, we need to take due diligence of the calamity that neighborhood is prone to and accordingly we should take a call on the technology and construction methods, in order to build a highly sustainable structure.
If construction is situated along coasts it is likely to be prone to a storm surge, which is a rise of water due to a storm. Raising the building with stilts or anchoring the foundation to solid rock can reduce the risk of damage and flooding. Similarly, Dome-shaped roofing is better able to survive in the hurricane- and tornado-force winds. The structural strength to withstand the natural calamities also depends on the quality of the material used in the construction. Concrete buildings are often better able to withstand wind, floods, and fire. Choosing the right quality of RMC is vital to give the full strength to the concrete mixture. Using building materials that are flexible, such as wood and steel can offer the structure a better ability to withstand calamities such as an earthquake.
Using new innovative technologies
With an ever-growing demand for homes and rapid urbanization sprawl, the developers need to speed up the construction to meet the demands. In a bid to reduce the time of construction and carrying out a mass construction activity developers are increasingly emphasizing on the use of new and innovative construction techniques. One such technology is shuttering with aluminium formwork which not only cost efficient and accelerates the speed of construction but also gives superior quality and strength to buildings.
In this technology wall reinforcing steel is used to give a structure to the building and support the concrete until they gain half of the required strength. The aluminium formworks are placed around the steel mesh, which is factory made and directly installed on the construction site. Aluminium alloy slabs which are prefabricated room-sized walls and floor are used along with the wall reinforcing steel. These slabs are accurately made and are easy to handle. Slabs are installed in such a way that spaces for windows, ducts, doors and other features such as staircases, façade panels, and balcony are also integrated in these structures. The pin and wedge system is used to join the forms together, which can be dismantled quickly after the concrete structure is made.
Steps authorities should take
The government introduced the RERA act two years back. The introduction of the act has brought more transparency for the consumers. The act has done phenomenal work to improve the quality of the construction. There are a few things that should be made mandatory to increase the number of buildings that can withstand natural calamities.
RERA should involve the property consultants to rate the quality of the construction. A higher rating and quality certifications will ensure all the formal procedures and will help the developers in getting higher prices for their projects. It will perpetually benefit the developers and the buyers as well.
Such initiatives by the authorities will create a healthy competition amongst the developers and will create an optimistic environment to encourage the quality of the construction and building a smarter India.
The author is Managing Director, Poddar Housing and Development Limited
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