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Chennai architects bag international award

Dhanya Parthasarathy



BUILDING DREAMS: Architect Sumitra Ravindranath and C.N. Raghavendran, partner of C.R. Narayana Rao Architects and Engineers, Mylapore, explain the key features of their international award winning design. — Photo: S.R. Raghunathan .

CHENNAI: The architects at C.R. Narayana Rao, a Chennai-based firm, had to build a 12-storeyed cyber tower in Mauritius, which would withstand windspeeds as fast as Michael Schumacher.

The Ebene Cyber Tower withstood that test and recently won the title of `Intelligent Building of the Year' awarded by the Intelligent Community Forum, at a conference in New York.

The Forum lauds the tower as one of the most advanced technology buildings in the region and being indicative of the relationship between commercial real estate and the development of an intelligent community.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the $42 million project Ebene Cyber City in April this year.

On foreign soil

The awardees were selected from around 250 applicants, edging out two other finalists who designed a science park at Belfast and an IT Center at Taipei. This is perhaps the first time an Indian design firm has won an international award for a project in a foreign country, says C.N. Raghavendran, the firm's partner.

The fully fibre-optic wired building scored high on innovations. "It has a system of air conditioning which saves power by 40 per cent. It has a master control system on one floor that's responsible for all the utilities — lights, air-conditioner, water pump, fire alarm, lifts... The plan on every floor is modular. Even if a company occupies one eighth of a floor, that area would be self-contained," says Mr. Raghavendran.

Architect Sumitra Ravindranath, also member of the award-winning core design team, chips in.

"The Atrium. It has a `wow!' effect. Skylight streams into the ground floor and all the offices on the 12 storeys because we fixed a glass dome," she says displaying pictures of the swanky interiors.

The firm was involved in the project from `concept to commissioning' and has served out the 12-month guarantee too.

On the designboard for six months, this is the only building with complete fibre-optic connectivity in the island. "It was completed within the cost and within the time," says Mr. Raghavendran. Present tenants include Infosys, Accenture (France), Teleforma (USA) and Theo Finance (Switzerland).

With a who's who client list that reads Tidel Park, Chennai TCS in Siruseri, Wipro in Bangalore, ISRO projects, Ford, Hyundai and Toyota plants, this is one of the top firms in South India. "Our strength has been that we rise to challenges quickly," says Mr. Raghavendran.

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