Mother Grace Towers
Although it falls under the umbrella of the larger National Capital Region, Noida was primarily envisioned as a satellite city across the River Yamuna. Following a system of building controls very similar to Delhi, it too has a city grain of wide roads set on a grid, compartmentalized land use, and low-rise residential buildings. The visual fabric of the commercial areas is tightly controlled by the setbacks and the height limits, and most buildings are finished in inexpensive glass facades that offer little by way of solar protection and insulation. Not only do these drive up the heat island effect, but vast amounts of air conditioning is also required to keep internal temperatures comfortable.
The brief was to create a commercial building that minimized energy consumption while maximizing floor space that could be used by any number of potential clients. The ½ acre site was located on a busy corner with a south-eastern aspect, offering the advantage of multiple entry points into the site. This fundamental advantage was used to create an open ramp on the north side leading down to two basement floors. By restricting the vehicular movement to one side of the building, it was possible to create a soft paved area towards the corner, minimizing the reflective heat gain into the building, while also creating pleasant views from the interior. Service cores were designed at diagonally opposite ends of the 150’ long building, allowing the floor plate to be divided amongst two tenants if required. Internal support columns were planned at every second bay, minimizing interruptions in potential future planning, while keeping structural sizes within economical levels.
With ambient temperatures running up to 45ºC in summer months, the principal design intervention was to ensure that the façade and roof would be able to control the amount of heat gain into the building. For the roof, a three-layer insulation system was adopted that provided an air gap and increased the thermal mass of the roof. The façade was designed with double insulated glass panels sitting in an aluminium frame which also became the support structure for attaching a system of horizontal aluminium louvers. The diagonal profile of individual fins was subtly different for the east and south elevations, responding to the changing angle of the sun. Running along the length of the building at every 900mm, these fins form a complex façade of light and shadow on the glass surface behind, continuously animating the building. The spacing allows the lower winter sun to penetrate the building interior, whilst restricting direct sun during the hot summer months.