Skyscrapers changing the face of Pune
Sep 25, 2013
Source : The Times of India


PUNE: Pune’s growth and development has coincided with the boom of the IT industry. From the erstwhile bungalows and row houses, its skyline was defined by 35-metre apartment developments in the late twentieth century and is now seeing skyscrapers tall enough to capitulate Pune to the ‘developed cities’ club. Besides, the vertical developments have helped in freeing the available ground space, providing better scope for landscaping and economising of services in comparison to any other normal development. Currently, in the context of Pune, there is a mixed fabric of contemporary tall buildings and residences and complexes, with cultural heritage.

According to Ajay Padmakar Gade, general manager-design and development, Marvel Realtors, “Pune is known for its historic and cultural heritage and is called the cultural capital of the state. The trend towards tall buildings, typically contemporary in nature, has a huge impact on the urban fabric. These structures also offer a sustainable solution in the face of rapid development, providing some relief towards conserving pockets of the city which have heritage value. Due to the unique verticality and a low horizontal footprint, these tall buildings allow us to maintain the greenery of the city.”

Sanjay Bajaj, managing director-Pune, Jones Lang LaSalle India, agrees. “Apart from the benefit of increased ground space, such projects help in improving the air, light and overall environment available to the residents. Other factors are, improved safety and security, which, along with services, common facilities and amenities, have always been a major concern for bungalow developments. Apartments offer the benefit of sharing the cost of common services, security and amenities, thereby, reducing the overall cost burden and increasing efficiency for the end-users. Finally, there is considerable aspirational value attached to living in a high-rise project, especially in a city that has not exactly been overrun with such projects so far” he explains.

The latest development is vertical growth and the change in the skyline has already become visible in Pune’s suburban locations. The central locations still have a mélange of both, high and lower rise typologies, with a trend of redevelopment that leads to old structures and vacant lands being transformed into apartment blocks and other real estate asset classes.

Dhaval Ajmera, director, Ajmera Realty and Infrastructure, says, “Poised for perfect growth, Pune, which is one of the most sought-after cities in the country, is lately undergoing a major transition. Developers are now focusing on building high-rise properties, especially in areas like Koregoan Park, Kalyani Nagar and Viman Nagar. This is elevating the city’s luxury standards and giving a facelift to Pune city. The connectivity in these areas is also playing an important role and has aided in transforming it.” Commenting on the demand factors, he adds, “There is a significant increase in the demand for homes in these areas, due to the increase in professionals in the IT/ITeS and manufacturing sectors and also from the NRI and HNI investments in the city. The concept is new in Pune and yet, there are a lot of people aspiring to live in tall buildings, with state-of-art amenities and stunning ultra-modern architecture. The construction of tall buildings also helps developers forge distinct identities, separating them from peers.”

The location’s infrastructure also has to be beefed up in order to support the larger requirements that such projects bring. If infrastructure is planned adequately and efficiently, such projects could help provide better living standards for the residents. According to Sumeet Bhatia, office head-Pune, Cushman & Wakefield, the increase in land prices in good locations has put pressure on the pockets of homebuyers and hence, there is a decline in the number of people aspiring to buy a bungalow or row house. He says, “Larger configurations such as bungalows in premium localities, are out of reach for most, resulting in the growth of a multitude of apartment projects. Taller buildings are more often found in a township, rather than as a standalone residential building, as the expertise and investment for constructing tall structures is higher. The increasing globalisation of consumers has led to a rise in their aspirations of residing and working in tall buildings, which not only boast of grand views but are also considered to be a status symbol. Consumers are enthusiastic about residing in these projects, despite being charged extra for floor rise.”

The city presently has the old heritage charm intact. In certain older pockets of the city, such as Deccan, Kothrud, Camp and the Cantonment area, tall buildings stand sideby-side with older low-rise buildings. However, wherever a possibility of redevelopment exists, residents and developers prefer to opt for highrises. The skyline in emerging or peripheral locations in Pune is characterised by high-rise developments. Proximity to the city centre, optimal utilisation of existing infrastructure and developed urban land along with enthusiastic interest of the buyers towards higher floors, has drawn the interest of almost all developers and real estate players to adopt tall buildings as a solution for catering to the urban demand of the city.

Nevertheless, skyscrapers also bring their own set of concerns. A key factor to be considered in high-rise towers is the provision and maintenance of fire safety standards – fire escape staircases, refuge areas and fire-fighting systems and equipment. Recently, Amanora invested Rs 8 crores in importing a state-of-the-art turn table ladder (also called a snorkel) which plays a major role in rescue operations in case of fire. Aniruddha Deshpande, MD, City Corporation Limited, informs, “We have upgraded our fire station by installing snorkels at the fire station. The snorkel of MAGI RUS-55 make has a height of 55 metres and is the tallest one available in the country. This was inspected by the state fire directorate’s officers at the industrial town Ulm in Germany, among other experts before bringing it to our country.”

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