Lakhta Center – a large scale project of the construction of a modern business area in the north-west of Saint Petersburg. Opening in 2018.
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Alexander BOBKOV: All our technologies are solutions of the 21st century.
For such unique projects as Lakhta Center, the use of innovative technologies becomes a condition necessary for the construction and further operation of the Complex. Lakhta Center Executive Director Alexander Bobkov told in the interview for DP how satellites control the Facility’s vertical position, told about comfortable climate for 7.5 thousand people, and about Russian software developers.
Is it true that foremen use tablets at your construction site?
- The use of modern devices is a vital need for us. Our main high rise building consists of nearly 200 thousand steel structural elements among which there are only two identical ones, and there are more than one million various elements in total. It would be difficult to use traditional construction methods for such variety of structures even if we wanted. Therefore, we became, probably, one of the first who developed the entire design of the Complex in 3D, and all drawings can be uploaded to different devices in 3D format as well. This makes it possible to keep the construction rate and to avoid errors when connecting different elements.
So, does it mean that the construction is carried out under control of modern technologies?
- Any small deviation increases in case large-sized structures are used; and we have a risk to get a deviation which would influence not only shapeliness, but also the structural stability. Technologies, including a 3D-model, help to avoid even the slightest deviations of the building embodiment in steel, concrete and glass.
The vertical position is controlled by means of the global navigation satellite system GNSS which has already been used with a positive result at other high-rise buildings.
The complex of fixed antennas is mounted on the ground at the construction site. The antennas contact the same ones mounted on mobile parts of the building, and all this chain is connected to the satellites located in geostationary orbits. As a consequence, we obtain a result which is accurate to tenths of a millimeter.
Another important task is the control of quality and, what is most important, of the linear sizes of structural elements arriving at the site. It is one thing to design a beam or a column using computer software, and it’s quite another thing to make it real. Elements have huge weight, large sizes and they are made of steel - instable material which is exposed to temperature changes in both directions. We make the laser 3D-scanning of completed elements to control their linear dimensions. Scan copies are compared with the element in the design, the actual dimensions are inserted into the general model and they get approval or disapproval for installation. Such control system in addition to the detection of rejected items allows creating the actual model of the building under construction and comparing of it with the ideal 3D-model, excluding the human factor.
Well, the building is constructed, how will it be operated?
- A centralized control system with backup control of critical utility systems will be implemented in the Complex. Tens of thousands of sensors will send information on the current situation to the consolidated control center. It will also allow early detection, which means not to see a problem that already arose, but to predict that a problem may occur in relation to some element of the network or equipment.
Rather narrow range of performance indicators of some or other system is set; and even if a system still works, but its parameters are out of the range set, then dispatchers and service departments will have to pay attention to it.
These controllers, which are a kind of eyes and ears of the utility systems, will control the comfort conditions for the building residents. Sensors will keep track of not only the air temperature, but also its humidity and carbon dioxide content. They will give a signal to the automatic systems which will regulate these parameters by means of the utility systems.
A separate topic is the comfort lighting. It seems that darkness fell in Saint Petersburg as soon as clouds cover the sky. In this case nobody should run to switches in Lakhta Center, everything will be controlled by the automatic systems. At the same time due to the fact that change of not only the lighting intensity, but also of its color is considered, the employees will have an impression that it is a nice sunny day indoors.
There is a war at many offices between those who like to open windows and those who like to turn on conditioners. It seems that you won't have this problem.
- Much to regret of those who like to open windows, it is simply impossible in our office: the smallest window weighs more than 750kg, and a separate technology is required to open it, and then to close.
And indeed, a need to open a window or to turn on a conditioner is a heritage of not really perfect utility systems causing stuffiness or drafts and, as a result, discomfort. Due to the fact that the automatic systems make all decisions on supply of heat, cold air and even the CO2 level, there must be no claims from the inhabitants of the Complex. And if it was even theoretically possible to open a window, it would disrupt the balance of the microclimate system.
How do you solve the issue with the people flow management, the delivery of people to the upper floors of Tower?
- Logistics in large complexes is the same element of comfort as the temperature or lighting. We set the task that waiting for a lift should not exceed 30 seconds in the peak-load periods. There are 38 lifts only in Tower: separate lifts in the lower, middle and upper parts of Tower. Also there is a special group of lifts - big two-level shuttles which deliver without stops to the observation deck for example. A visitor, in order to understand where he should go after he comes into the Complex, before he reaches the lift halls, presses the button of a required floor and sees the number of the lift he should approach.
In the course of work and rest a lot of waste is produced. How will it be disposed?
- Estimates suggest that in case there are 7.5 thousand residents, we will produce more than 3 thousand tons of waste a year. There will be two systems of vacuum transportation of waste in the Complex. Segregated waste collection, sorting into household and food waste is considered. All waste will be collected by means of vacuum ducts to the places of its primary processing, which is at least, pressing, or crushing in case it is required. As the system will go through the entire Complex, office administrators and future lessees will not have to walk with a waste bin.
How do modern technologies help to cope with emergency situations?
- Fire safety and fire extinguishing systems in buildings such as our one, and we are not an exception, are a space element with respect to their complexity and, most important, with respect to their no-failure operation. We divided Tower into 26 fire compartments, and each is an independent space equipped with all necessary items for firefighting. Sensors of the fire extinguishing system detect not only a fire, but also a change of the air condition - temperature increase, and even smoke.
The second element for fight directly against fire is the most up-to-date water mist fire suppression system, which is much more effective than a traditional sprinkler system.
Water is sprayed to microdrops, to fog which excludes access of the air to a fire source and, in a smooth manner, excludes its spreading. It is important that such system doesn't cause damage to property as it happens when traditional methods of fire extinguishing are used.
To deliver savers and firefighters, special lifts are considered: five in Tower and eleven in the multifunctional building (MFB). Unlike standard lifts which are switched-off in cases of emergency, these lifts are specially equipped with additional protective systems and will work until the last resident is evacuated.
Will the access to the building be controlled and how will control be carried out taking into account its multifunctionality?
- Of course, it would be easier to enclose everything with a high fence and don't let anyone to come in, and if someone is let in, then not to let him leave the building, especially when we have the system of vacuum waste disposal in operation.
But jokes aside, the investor set the task for us to make the Complex multifunctional.
And if there is a standard access control system for offices, then a separate system is designed for the public areas, a lot of which will be in MFB, that ensures security, identification of visitors, and there will be a separate system of aberrant behavior control. For example, a person stayed behind a group will be identified on monitors by the control system without being noticed by anyone in order to see if his lace is really untied or he wants to fix some unwanted sensor.
What economic effect does the implementation of all these most advanced systems give to us?
- If new systems didn't have any economic effect, they just wouldn't take hold.
The effect can be indirect. For example, fresh air is badly monetized on its own.
But, if you imagine that a tired person without oxygen can make not the best decisions by the end of a day, the efficiency becomes obvious.
Modern utility systems have also direct monetary payback which is achieved by savings in operation costs. Thousands of sensors and controllers make it possible to reduce the service staff quantity considerably. Early detection allows significant saving in service: if we detect technical problems at the initial stage then we repair certain elements, and if we wait when a system fails then we will have to change it completely.
The consumption of heat, electricity decreases when our control system is used because their quantities are sufficient and not excessive. If we open a window leaf when it is hot, we pay extra money because at first we heated the air, and then aired. And the situation with light is the same: if suddenly the weather becomes better by the lunch time, then excess of lighting is automatically liquidated and the electric power isn't consumed.
Overconsumption is not only an economic problem, but also a social one. It is necessary to reduce the environmental load by lowering the consumption to the sufficient amount. It isn't obligatory to economize intentionally, but as practice shows if the sufficient amount is enough, then economy appears by itself. We save a percent or even a share of a percent on each element, but they produce a notable cumulative effect. According to the scale of the so-called "green building", we belong to the gold standard and shall be more effective than a similar standard building almost by one third.
Are there Russian companies among the suppliers of equipment and software?
- There are Russian suppliers who are able to meet not only our requirements, but the highest requests of the market. They are really competitive, and this is not a result of the declared strategy for import substitution. Russian companies that manufacture systems of automation, light control are absolutely competitive. Communications and cross-connections between systems are defined by Russian protocols, and we like the fact that it is recognized by western suppliers.
Considering the fact that there are a lot of automatic equipment, programming, IT elements in our systems, then, when selecting suppliers, we were also guided by the principle of insignificant dependence on hardware in order not to be tied to the supplier after the purchase of equipment or software.
The world develops rapidly, and in the course of the operation of the building we want to have an opportunity to get the best and not the things that a supplier that worked at the construction stage can offer.
Will Lakhta Center become a world model of the application of advanced technologies after the completion of the construction?
- Our project will be ahead of its time during the first years after the Complex’s opening. We are sure that many solutions will be widely used in future. All our technologies are solutions of the 21st century.
The task that faces us further is to bring those new things that will appear in the market into the completed facility, and to confirm the declared status of the engine of technologies and innovations.
Graduated from Leningrad State University, faculty of economics. Doctor of Economics, the author of the thesis on the topic: "Creation of a Sustainable Cost Management System to Improve Efficiency of the Operation of a Construction Company under Economic Growth Conditions in Saint Petersburg". In the construction industry since 1994, has directed the following enterprises: Generalnaya Stroitelnaya Korporatsiya, OJSC; GSK Krasny Treugolnik, LLC; Kirovsky Passazh, CJSC; Upravlyayushchaya Kompaniya GSK Holding, LLC. Since January, 2010 – executive director of Joint Stock Company Lakhta Center Multifunctional Complex.
Lakhta Center Multifunctional Complex is a public and business complex, with the headquarters of Gazprom and Gazprom Neft Companies as its core. A considerable part of its area will be allocated for public functions. The total area of the buildings and facilities will be 400 thousand sq.m. In 2015 the zero cycle was completed. The completion of the construction is planned for 2018.