A Window Into India’s Burgeoning Fenestration Industry
Along with a booming economy, the fenestration industry in India has seen rapid growth and expansion into more exotic materials. General prosperity is behind the demand, along with modernization which has seen the emergence of new ways of shopping, expanded public works and heightened demand for modern city dwellings.
That’s according to Atul Deopujari, principal architect at Matrix Design Works, headquartered in the National capital region of New Delhi, in the interior of the Indian subcontinent. “The boom was particularly pronounced in the decade from 2003 to 2013; subsequently, in the global context, there has been something of a slowdown, but the fenestration industry is looking highly promising and back on a growth track,” he points out.
An accomplished architect who spent 8 years working in Dubai, Deopujari says he returned to the country of his birth at the beginning of the 2000s boom. “At this time, I headed the Architectural division of the second largest real estate company in the country; we had millions of square feet of commercial/residential property with operations across India. It was here that I got close to the fenestration industry.”
That’s because, Deopujari explains, with shopping malls and office buildings going up everywhere, the limitations of traditional window/facade manufacturing processes were rapidly being reached. “Up to this point, most windows/facade etc were manufactured by relatively small fabricators.
The major challenge was, quite simply, scale. When an office/residential block requires tens of thousands of windows of a specific size and type, getting the goods delivered from multiple vendors was difficult. Even if it were possible, variances on quality and even deviations in sizes added complexity, delays and cost to large-scale construction projects.
“We’re talking about hundreds of buildings; just one development in Kolkata, for example, had 4000 apartments. You need better technology to meet this requirement as standardization is a challenge.”
“It was therefore a necessity to look into different fenestration types,” confirms Deopujari, “And also, to take a different approach to the manufacturing of these. When you’re growing, you need consistent quality on time and the old ways weren’t delivering.”
This heralded a move into extruded aluminium and PVC. It also marked a shift towards mass production, where single suppliers emerged which can fulfill large orders within compressed time frames.
“It’s a story of industrialization,” says Deopujari. “And it isn’t limited to fenestration. Other parts of the buildings, such as facades and retractable roof structures, were similarly benefiting from the expanded materials and the expanded possibilities which come with these materials. With big commercial/institutional buildings going up for the international IT companies like Microsoft, Oracle and Adobe, facades really took off.”
“One thing I’d like to highlight further is that in the past decade, real estate went very high, and we had our own ‘subprime’ type crisis. But that’s also served as a learning curve which has delivered government regulation in real estate. This protects customers and developers by providing a level of quality control; customers are comfortable to pay for approved projects and banks are confident to lend against them.”
Having moved from property development back into his profession of architecture, he says these new materials and approaches to manufacturing have also provided for more scope and possibility in the designs which can be practically constructed. “At present, we’re working on residential, commercial and mixed-use developments. Mixed-use developments are generally around 1.5 million square feet in built up area. There’s enormous activity in the public sector, with hospitals and colleges, institutions, infrastructure going up; there are numerous new airports planned.”
From these projects, Deopujari says, there is routine demand for something special and unique in the facades and fenestration. “And now the local industry, by using improved manufacturing tools, techniques and materials, are capable of delivering it.” The governments push towards “Make In India” has helped a lot. Large international manufacturers are setting up manufacturing facilities in India.
Deopujari says it is his feeling that the industry has much innovation ahead of it, as well as headroom for an expanded environmental focus. “This will take the front seat, with newer products coming out being rapidly accepted as customers can see they are bound to benefit. After that long decade of growth, there were some relatively tough times, but that’s cleaned out the industry. The signs today are strong, and they are good, both in the private and public sector.”