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The utility has conceived it to make a different architectural statement
As supplier of a liquid indispensable to life on the planet, the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) should know how important safeguarding the environment is. Construction, taken for granted by much of humanity as a seemingly innocuous act, has a deleterious impact on the ecosystem — from precious groundwater to the atmosphere.
Hence, when a water utility decides to construct a building, it has to be doubly conscious about the need to minimise the impact on the environment. On this score, the authority, it seems, has taken a step in the right direction.
In construction, green is the new black, and the authority has decided to construct a green building for its headquarters, right in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram.
The city is gradually seeing an increasing number of structures built to the specifications of the green building concept. A few have even won the Indian Green Building Council certification.
The utility’s present headquarters building in the city can only be described as nondescript. The authority itself has been undergoing a few sweeping changes in its functioning, and it is only natural that a new building was thought of.
The tender process for the 11-storey building, each floor having an area of 10,000 square feet, is in the final stages. Construction is expected to be completed by 2015, Ashok Kumar Singh, Managing Director, KWA, says. The sister concerns of the KWA, including Jalanidhi, will be shifted to the building.
The building will house the proposed central control unit of the authority, Mr. Singh says. The unit will give an entirely new dimension to the way in which the utility goes about its daily functions. It will be from where the utility’s top officials and its think-tank will manage the State’s water resources, monitor water supply and other issues round-the-clock, all this with the help of the latest technology that is being adopted. And to think that all these will happen in green settings.
As for the green character of the building, G. Shankar, architect of the Habitat Technology Group, says the structure is part of an effort to “make a different architectural statement.”
Cost and energy efficiency and eco-friendliness will be the criteria for selection of material and technologies. The building will have a passive solar lighting design, in which windows, walls and floors are made to collect, store and distribute solar energy, avoiding use of mechanical and electrical devices to the maximum extent possible. The main building will be oriented not to face the sun directly, remaining in the shade. It will let in as much light and air as possible through natural means.
Green terraces will adorn various parts of the building at different levels. The building will come up in such a way that the land “will not be hurt” at all, Mr. Shankar says.
“We will be taking the terrain as it is since the building is designed to suit the terrain,” he says. With water and energy efficiency being crucial in determining the “greenness” of the building, its storm-water and grey-water management will be unique. Sensors and similar fittings will ensure minimal use of water for actions such as flushing, while the water will be recycled grey water from an internal treatment plant.
The walls will be of compressed mud blocks with use of cement being minimal.
“It will undoubtedly be a different architectural statement,” Mr. Shankar says.
Carl Zeiss on track for revamping Priyadarshini Planetarium
For almost a year, the fluctuating euro threatened to derail a dream project envisaged for the city.
In January this year, when the euro fetched Rs.70, the Kerala State Science and Technology Museum (KSSTM) had finalised the German company Carl Zeiss for the modernisation of the Priyadarshini Planetarium here.
In the months that followed, the value of the euro rose alarmingly, even crossing Rs.90, spelling doom for transnational purchases such as this one.
Months of deliberation and near-withdrawals later, there is confirmation. In fact, the pieces are literally coming together now, in Germany, ever since the KSSTM issued the letter of credit to HDFC Bank on November 6. This letter of credit or documentary credit validates the deal with the bank bearing the responsibility to pay the supplier the value of the goods shipped as long as the documents and the stipulated terms are complied with.
It was possible for the KSSTM to go ahead with the payment because they did not have to deposit the entire amount of 13 million euros in one go. Payment has been split into transactions after discussions with officials of Carl Zeiss in October – 10 months since the contract was signed.
Carl Zeiss had first requested that the three LCs be issued simultaneously – one bearing 60 per cent of the amount to be released after completion of works there; one marked for 30 per cent to be released after shipping; and the third for 10 per cent which they could avail of only after the guarantee period of two years since installation.
With the transactions now being carried out one after the other, the KSSTM has earned some breathing space with Rs.6.7 crore being utilised from the this year’s budget of the agency, instead of over Rs.11 crore (total). The cost was initially pegged at Rs.9.74 crore. The remaining will be paid utilising next year’s budget, KSSTM Director Arul Jerald Prakash said.
The deadline is October 6, 2014 – 11 months since the first LC is issued.
Mr. Prakash said there was a good chance that Carl Zeiss would complete the work much ahead of this date, and the people of the city would be able to enjoy the state-of-the-art features of the ‘Starmaster Hybrid’ planetarium as soon as next Onam. A much-larger 17-metre diameter dome, this version would provide an enhanced experience through the company’s optical-mechanical projector. Their website describes this model as one equipped with LED illumination and a ‘Spacegate Nova’ system that consists of nine synchronised video projectors for greater accuracy.
Aside from the astronomy-inclined aspects, the IMAX screening capabilities and a ‘Kerala Panoramic 2D’ feature showcasing scenic locations in the State are the other components of the agreem
Presiding over the function, V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, executive vice-president, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment, said efforts were on to work out a better collaboration between institutions in India and Germany in areas like climate change, laser technology, and nano science.
He said the Kids’ Science Laboratory, an educational project popular in Germany, had completed a pilot run in Kerala this year.
The project, designed to provide children with an opportunity to explore and understand science through fun-filled activities, is slated to come up at the Kerala State Science and Technology Museum here. “It will be the first Kids’ Science Laboratory outside Germany,” Prof. Pillai said.