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Special Report | February 2014

DESIGNER TOLL BOOTHS!

Designed by archohm, the newly-designed Vadodara-Bharuch toll plaza will change the architectural concept of toll plazas in India. This often-ignored part of contemporary architecture will create a new benchmark in the toll plaza industry. PROJECTS INFO reports.  

Vadodara and Bharuch in Gujarat are known for their rapid strides in industrialisation. L&T Vadodara-Bharuch Tollway Limited (L&T VBTL) is a matured road asset; this 83.17 km stretch on NH 8 between Vadodara and Bharuch is part of the golden quadrilateral and, therefore, forms an important link between the capital state of Delhi and the commercial capital of the country Mumbai.

 

The Vadodara Bharuch toll plaza by archohm, a design consultancy for architecture, located on the NH-8 in Gujarat, is a new benchmark in the tariff industry. Intense research by the team broke down the structure into fundamental elements based on need, form and function. It resulted in an analysis of the system which is essentially an island booth to seat people who collect a fee, with a canopy for weather protection, an office and a tunnel to connect the islets with the management blocks.

 

When the Vadodara Bharuch toll plaza was to be built on NH 8 in Gujarat, the client wanted to create a new benchmark in the toll plaza industry. This led to intensive research that broke down the toll plaza into fundamental elements based on need, form and function. Essential to a tolling system are island booths to seat people who collect the toll, a canopy for weather protection, an office or management block and a tunnel to connect the islands with the management. The most interesting aspect of a toll plaza is that it never sleeps -- functionally, it has to operate round the clock.

 

Wing-like membrane structures
 The canopy and booth were found to play an important role in creating a strong visual dialogue; hence the brief was the 'best canopy'. Various ideas were conceived and it was finally decided to recreate the notion of 'canopy' itself by removing it altogether and providing independent winged shelters. Speaking of the design of canopies, Sourabh Gupta, Project Director, Vadodara-Bharuch Toll Plaza, said, "We got the canopies right through toll booths and hung them through tall structures. The canopy is very small flexible and retractable, but vehicles can easily go in and come out like a bird."The wing-like membrane structures are devised so that they can be vertically aligned for most of the months, with a mechanically controlled system for weather protection. For the additional safety of the employees, concrete booths are designed and exaggerated to a height of 10 m. Functionally, these tall dramatic structures provide increased visibility to the approaching traffic, while their coloured signage-centric lighting helps enhance the entire visual experience of the plaza.

 

Next generation of design
 The two prominent building blocks, namely the control block and the office block reflect the 'wing' concept, as they both comprise wings, jutting out of central glass towers. The control block has been positioned centrally for better visual access and future expansion options of the plaza. The office block stands adjacent to the site, which gives it additional privacy. The blankness of the facades reduces the impact of smoke and sound on the buildings, due to heavy vehicular traffic. The courtyards and side windows are well-placed to capture natural light. Experientially, the Vadodara Bharuch toll plaza is like an oasis on the highway and marks the next generation of design in the tolling industry.

 

Secured plaza
 Gupta said, "We got the most secured part in the middle of the building. Very rarely you will find a project in the middle of the road. We have done that because we can expand the building/plazas on both the sides. We can also keep the place very secure. What happens is that, as these places are located in remote locations, there is lot of theft possible, and the money received is very large. To make sure that it is a safe way of collecting, the building is built right in the middle. You will find more people stopping when the building is built on the edge."

 

Project facts:
 Name of Project:
Vadodara-Bharuch toll plaza
 Location: NH8, Gujarat, Vadodara
 Name of client: Manoj Dave
 Name of client's firm: L&T IDPL
 Principal architect: Sourabh Gupta
 Design team: Rachna Mittal, Shahzad Ahmad Site area (sq ft & sq m): 76,895 sq m
 Built-up area (sq ft and sq m): 3,860 sq m
 Start date: November 2008

 

The control block has been positioned centrally for better visual access and future expansion options of the plaza.

 

The canopy is very small, flexible and retractable, but vehicles can easily go in and come out.

 

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