Surat Diamond Bourse: Pioneering Innovation in the Heart of Gujarat's Diamond Sector

Within the realm of corporate architecture, the Surat Diamond Bourse confidently holds the distinction of being the largest corporate edifice globally. BW Smart Cities spoke to Manit Rastogi, one of the architects, who designed this extraordinary structure in collaboration with Sonali Rastogi through their architectural firm, Morphogenesis. The discussion delved into the unique attributes that render this building a contemporary masterpiece

In the city of Surat in Gujarat, amidst the glimmering world of diamonds, stands a modern day architectural marvel that transcends boundaries and redefines opulence. The Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB), is a testament to human ingenuity and the boundless potential of the diamond trade. This colossal structure, boasting a staggering floor space of 660,000 square metres (7,100,000 square feet), is more than just a trade centre; it is a symbol of prestige and innovation in the heart of the global diamond industry.

Situated within the newly developed Diamond Research and Mercantile City, SDB forms the epicentre of a thriving business district, spanning an impressive 14.38 hectares (35.54 acres). Within its expansive confines, SDB offers a generous 61,000 square metres (660,000 square feet) of built-up area, housing over 4,000 offices that cater to both national and international diamond traders.

The grandeur of the bourse is reflected in its nine towering structures, each adorned with 15 floors and collectively accommodating 4,200 offices. These offices range from 28 square metres (300 square feet) to an astonishing 700 square metres (7,500 square feet), ensuring a diversity of spaces to meet the unique needs of its occupants. With an efficient network of 131 elevators boasting a speed of three metres per second, accessibility and convenience are paramount.

This architectural masterpiece has earned recognition from the Indian Green Building Council as a pre-certified green building, showcasing a commitment to sustainability and responsible design. In the world of corporate architecture, Surat Diamond Bourse proudly claims the title of the world's largest corporate building, a symbol of India's prowess in the global diamond trade.

Businessworld spoke to Manit Rastogi, the architect who along with Sonali Rastogi, designed the bourse under the architecture firm Morphogenesis, to know what makes this building a modern day marvel. 

Q: Can you tell us about how this remarkable project started?

A : It has been an incredible journey. This project began six years ago with a global design competition. What was unique was that we had not one but 4,700 clients, who had formed a cooperative to create this self-sustained office space for their 4,700 members.

Q: What were the key challenges you faced when designing this project?

A: When we first heard the brief, we were presented with 35 acres of land, and the scale of the project was astounding. It was going to be 1 million square feet of construction, accommodating 65,000 people with parking for 5,000 cars and 10,000 two-wheelers. The security requirements were also at the highest level. It was unlike anything we had ever done before.

Q: How did you approach the design with such scale and complexity in mind?

A:We decided to focus on what we call "Soul Sustainability" – a design philosophy that emphasises sustainability over optimisation for uniqueness and availability. Soul is an acronym for Sustainable, Optimised, Unique, and Liveable.

We saw this as a unique opportunity to demonstrate that even in mega-size projects like this, we could achieve the same energy, water, and waste metrics as in smaller projects. It was a way of showing that big is not always bad. If we can do it on such a large scale, imagine what we can do on a smaller scale.

Q: Sustainability is a crucial aspect, indeed. What about the cost of construction, especially considering it was a cooperative self-funded project?

A: The cost was a major challenge because we had a highly democratic structure. The price point was set based on the smallest office size, around 300 square feet, and the largest being 70,000 square feet. So, everything was determined by the lowest common denominator. Despite the desire for a highly sustainable building, we had to meet cost metrics, and we deployed various measures to achieve that.

Q: It is fascinating to see how sustainability and cost-effectiveness has been balanced. Could you tell us more about the unique aspects of this project?

A: The most unique challenge was how to efficiently move 65,000 people, 5,000 cars, and 10,000 two-wheelers in and out of the building with top-level security. We had to ensure it could be done in just six to seven minutes, considering the 7 million square feet of construction. This project was about solving many complex problems simultaneously, emphasising the power of design in solving real-world issues.

Q: How did you manage to address all these challenges and create the final design?

A: We participated in the design competition, where we considered all these parameters and came up with a design that could address them. We won the competition, proceeded to develop the design, and have now completed the project. The inauguration is scheduled for December, and even the Prime Minister is set to attend.

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