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Urban Design


Subodh Dixit, Executive Director & President (engineering & construction division) and Barun Pal Chowdhury, Director, Design Build, on why India should take up Design Build extensively.

The construction industry is becoming more organised and challenging. How have you evolved in the last few years?
SC Dixit: I think Design Build has evolved in a manner that today it has a good turf and gives us a platform to execute jobs on time, ensure quality, and maintain cost without overruns. It’s a one-stop solution. So the contractor responsible takes the entire responsibility as far as the client or customer is concerned. He is also taking ownership of timelines, cost, quality, and coordination with stakeholders, consultants, suppliers, etc.

Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium (RGICS), Dehradun, is a classic example of Design Build.

There are two aspects to this. From the beginning the customer and construction company are aligned on the product requirements and hence, the cost, timelines and specifications are almost completely defined from the beginning. Earlier what happened was that architects would bring in their creativity with an artistic flair and that concept would be unique, but from a contractor’s and customer’s point of view sometimes it would not be a cost effective solution. Often in such cases, there would be cost and time overruns.

Barun Pal Chowdhury.

Subodh Dixit.

Barun Pal Chowdhury: Each stakeholder should be satisfied at the end of the day. When we converse about Design Build with the client, we ensure they understand the concept. As a contractor, most of the time clients walk in blindly into the contract little realising the dynamics of the entire process. Most often than not, they are used to the traditional method of construction, which often leads to frequent discussions between client and architect on differentiation of thoughts, ideas and methodology of construction. That is exhaustive and much time is wasted on discussions instead of delivery.
The Design Build concept has its own deliberations initially. As a contractor, we may not have a complete picture of expectations from the client, but a large part of it would have formed a picture in our mind. By the time we sign the contract, we are clear as to what the final product is going to look with little chances of uncertainty creeping in later on.

So are the projects tendered in Design Build?
SC Dixit: Many a times where we are in conversation with a client for his project which may not be conceived at the outset to be a DnB project, we try and explain to him the benefits of the DnB projects and more often than not we find that clients are seeing the advantages and get interested in DnB route.
Also in the recent past there have been several enquiries directly on DnB mode. In fact, a good percentage of Central government projects, nowadays are on DnB model.

There is a paradigm shift towards this format of project execution and it would not have happened if as mentioned, all the stakeholders do not derive benefits of this mechanism. If you look at our portfolio, about 60-65% is Design Build, and 30% is general contracting. The only difference between GC and Design Build is that everything in the latter is created by us, as compared to GC where design or consultancy is by others.
Barun Pal Chowdhury: At the outset, we hand over the technical presentations to the client so that standards are adhered to. From thereon, we start defining the structural and mechanical systems, plumbing, firefighting systems which matches the requirements of the client. On that, we understand then the client’s timeline, client’s costing because costing and timeline has to be understood because the business model is made by the client. To that we adopt, the logistics of construction, the timeline – procurement planning, design scheduling, and commissioning. All this is very integrated – it cannot be standalone.

What are the innovations in Design Build recently?
SC Dixit: There are multiple innovations. A fundamental one is beam modelling. It ensures there are no conflicts within the elements in the structure and that is taken care of beforehand. It also helps the vendor of electro-mechanical or HVAC ascribe the right cost to the product. In absence of these detailings, a vendor can load some extra material and that is excess cost to the project. Also an important element is the early alignment on the deliverables by all the stakeholders, hence chances of any subsequent disputes are minimised.
Barun Pal Chowdhury: Design Build offers complete clarity on the entire project and offers control on the project too. As compared to traditional methods of construction, there is no perceived or excess cost to the project.

What are some of the key pillars of Design Build?
SC Dixit: From the contractor’s point of view, my major concern is making the product as per the client’s requirement and look at points of utility, purpose, functionality aesthetics, and at the same time create a product that is easy to construct. As a DnB, we bring in innovative ideas and value engineer the product so that it’s executed at least cost and on time.
Barun Pal Chowdhury: Our energies are directed in the methods we adopt, utilisation of space, aesthetics, functionalities, and quality material. Other aspects are innovation in terms of design, utility space vs circulation space ratio, and car park versus office space versus service area so as to reduce gaps.
In India, the concept is catching up rapidly because of the efficiency of the whole concept. Imagine a scenario where projects come up on time and all the while the developer is smiling because he is assured of no cost overruns and an excellent quality of construction.

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May 2020
11 May 2020