Some 150 miles north of Mumbai, India, lies a gem capital: Surat, where around 90% of all the planet’s diamonds are cut. The city in Gujarat state has a record-breaking building to house its mammoth industry – CNN reports.
The Pentagon dethroned
The newly-opened Surat Diamond Bourse in India is billed as a „one-stop destination” for over 65,000 diamond professionals, including cutters, polishers and traders. The Pentagon was the world’s largest office building for 80 years, but this new building just took the title.
Featuring nine rectangular structures spilling out from — and interconnected via — a central „spine”, the sprawling 15-story complex has been built across more than 35 acres of land. The trading centre’s architects say it comprises over 7.1 million square feet of floor space.
The 32-billion-rupee ($388 million) development also houses 131 elevators, as well as dining, retail, wellness and conference facilities for workers.
The building was masterminded by Indian architecture firm Morphogenesis following an international design competition.
„Surpassing the Pentagon was not part of the competition brief. Rather, the project’s size was dictated by demand as the offices were all purchased by diamond companies prior to construction” – the project’s CEO, Mahesh Gadhavi told CNN.
According to CNN, the project is set to welcome its first occupants in November after four years of construction, two of which were hampered by Covid-related delays.
Offices drawn on lottery
With offices connected by a long central corridor occupants have similarly convenient access to amenities and facilities, according to the architecture firm’s co-founder, Sonali Rastogi, who described the design as „democratic.”
Working there is intended to be the same for everyone, she explained, adding that no office takes longer than seven minutes to reach from any of the building’s entry gates. Gadhavi, meanwhile, revealed that a lottery system was used to decide which businesses were given which offices.
A place for informal transactions
Rastogi drew attention to the series of nine 1.5-acre courtyards, complete with seating and water features, that can serve as casual meeting places for traders. The design was inspired by the fact, that many informal transactions take place outside the office environment.
While the architect admitted that Surat does not possess a „very remarkable architectural language of its own,” she expressed hope that sustainable design will shape the future development of a city where summer temperatures can exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Running on 50% less energy
Morphogenesis claims that its design consumes as much as 50% less energy than the maximum permitted to earn a platinum rating from the Indian Green Building Council. The central spine’s flared shape was designed to funnel prevailing winds through the structure, the architects say, while „radiant cooling” circulates chilled water under its floors to reduce indoor temperatures.
Although individual offices will rely on traditional air conditioning, Rastogi estimates that around half of the building is cooled using natural ventilation, while common areas are powered using solar energy.
“We decided to create something that is iconic, that borrows … from its context and the community we are working (with),” she added, pointing out that the plan for the building was based on environmental and sustainable design more than a particular architectural language.