Thursday, 10 January 2008

Gujarat Fast Becoming The New York of India

Gujarat International Finance Tech-City, Gandhinagar, India

?India?s biggest major planned skyscraper CBD outside Mumbai, Gujarat?s and India?s tallest commercial skyscraper, Mumbai?s first major commercial skyscraper, and one of the biggest single megaprojects in India!

The Indian Skyscraper Race is ON.

This last year has been big for Indian architecture and development fans. A total of 7 megaprojects with supertall towers have been either approved or beginning construction (sadly, only a handful of them with renderings released), each of them vying to grab the coveted title of ?India?s Tallest Building.?

But this latest project, located at Gandhinagar, the capital city of the ?ber-industrial Indian state of Gujarat, and nearby the state?s commercial capital of Ahmedabad, its a home-run hit deep to left field (or maybe I should try to speak in cricket terms? a deep sixer(??)) Why? Although it may not necessarily win the title of India?s tallest building (not for long anyway), the project certainly has all the mega projects made public beat in terms of sheer massing and scale.

^ Views of the CBD and skyline

Boasting 17 high rise commercial buildings ? the tallest being the signature 80-storey, 400m ?Diamond Tower? ? as well as an artificial island, integrated mass transit and dedicated expressways, residential townships, and dedicated power supply, the 500 acre GIFT aims to be Global Financial Services hub. The project, is being developed by the Gujarat Finance City Development Company Ltd, a 50:50 joint venture between the Gujarat government and Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) as a Public-Private partnership, will employ 400,000 people and house 50,000 residents.

^ Perspective and View of the GIFT skyline

Arguably India?s most economically proactive and reform-minded state, Gujarat?s second-tier metropolises have chafed under the shadow of nearby Maharashtra state?s (and India?s) financial capital of Mumbai. It is this rivalry that has triggered the rapid industrialization of the state and the vision and drive to try to directly compete with India?s biggest city (though with a population of 5.7 million, the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar urban agglomeration is no slouch either.)

The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, well placed between the political and commercial capitals of Gujarat, was conceived as the beginning of that competition. Designed to kick Mumbai in the FDI balls, GIFT is developed as India?s first major supertall CBD project that is designed to be the focal point of India?s booming financial services market ? in direct competition with Mumbai ? by providing companies with all those things Mumbai is still developing: comprehensive infrastructure, power, verticalized office space, and a well designed, planned and expandable urban form. Its strong proximity and infrastructure connectivity with Mumbai ensures that mutually beneficial development occurs between the two metros.

The project is being planned to be at or above par with presently acknowledged globally benchmarked financial centers such as Shinjuku (Tokyo), Lujiazui (Shanghai), La Defense (Paris) and Dockyards (London). Size-wise too, at over 7.5 million sq. feet of built up space in Phase 1 of the project alone, it is almost twice as massive as in Shinjuku, Luijiazui, La Defense and Dockyards combined! However, with India?s financial sector employing 10 million people by 2020, it hardly puts a dent in the 800 million sq feet of office space needed for this industry alone? implies what big things are in store for Indian commercial development in the near future!

^ Views of the highrises and of Diamond Tower

Inspired by the boom cities of China, the city is being masterplanned by East China Architectural Design & Research Institute (ECADI), which is responsible for planning much of Shanghai, and Fairwood Consultants India, one of India?s largest and fastest growing consulting firms. According to Mr Yao Wen Lin, board chairman of ECADI, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City will be designed ?to a standard that would be superior to one in Shanghai, China?.

^ Riverfront recreational and greenspace development

GIFT is designed as an extremely environmentally friendly development that will have the lowest per capital energy consumption of any Indian metro. The project itself will boast an impressive green area covering 65% of the total land, in large part due to the number of skyscrapers. In addition, the area long the Sabarmati River?s banks will be developed into a riverfront recreational area, complementing the riverfront developments planned for Ahmedabad. The project will also boast a museum, large conference center and gardens on the man made Fortune Island, where Diamond Tower is located. In addition to expressway linkages, GIFT will also boast underground arterial road, as well as MRTS/LRTS/BRTS connections and abundant parking.

Phase 1 of the project, which will begin construction in March, 2008 and to be completed by 2010, will consist of the 400m Diamond Tower and the core CBD of GIFT, comprising a total of 25.8 million sq ft. Already, 15 million sq ft. of the floorspace of this first phase has already been secured by a host of national and international companies, with MOUs for the other 10 million in the works. Two more phases will then be rolled out for an eventual 2017 completion date.

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