International designs shape Indian construction projects

March 25th, 2008 - 10:45 am ICT by admin  

(Business Feature)
By Anuradha Shukla
New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) A luxury villa designed by Giorgio Armani, an 18-hole golf course conceptualised by Greg Norman and skyscrapers with the FX Fowle touch - hiring global professionals has become a new trend with Indian realtors. With the $15 billion realty sector in India booming at an annual growth of 35 percent and global players lining up investments worth some $10 billion, this industry has begun attracting international planners and architects.

So don’t be surprised if fancy realty project names like Orchard Country, Sun City, Malibu Towne, Espace Nirvana Country and Karma Lakelands also have some top international civil engineers and architects associated with them.

“With the influx of global realty developers in India, home grown companies are also signing on architects and engineers with international footprint to give a touch of class to their projects,” said Kunal Banerjee of Ansals API.

His company has hired the services of New York-based architects FX Fowle for the projects in the national capital and surrounding satellite towns, just like what Omiros One of Australia is doing for Omaxe’s residential towers.

And these are not the only names. Emaar MGF has hired the services of a host of global architects - like Singapore-based SRSS Architects, Bentel Associates of South Africa and Giorgio Armani for its various projects in India.

“International architects have better expertise and exposure to tackle complex projects like theme townships, golf cities or technology parks. All need expert designers and experienced master-planners,” said Pramod K. Magu of Unitech.

“These global players provide us access to the latest in design and construction techniques that shorten lead time for completion,” Magu, who is the company’s executive vice president and an architect himself, told IANS.

Experts in the industry say these International names come with a price tag, but nobody is complaining about the costs.

“Hiring an international architect costs 5-10 percent of the total cost, depending upon the project. The cost actually doubles compared to what we incur by hiring Indian architects,” said industry expert.

“Yes, there is just fractional increase of cost,” added a spokesperson for DLF. “The increase is around Rs.40-100 per sq ft. But this is easily recovered from the premium of up to 20 percent on account of better design.”

Some developers hire multiple design firms together for a single project.

Unitech, for instance, has 10 global architecture and design consultants for the $3 billion Unitech Grande project - a super-luxury residential complex over 347 acres along the Noida expressway neighbouring the national capital.

This project has experts like US-based mall designer Callison and landscape artists SWA and EDAW, as also Britain’s RMJM for architecture and interiors and HOK for floor plans, besides Australian golfer Greg Norman.

Likewise, Ansal API’s 5,000-acre Sushant Golf City in Lucknow has the course villas designed by New Zealand’s Woodham Meikle Zhan Architects Ltd, golf course by Martin Hawtree and landscaping by Thailand-based KTGY.

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