Surat Diamond Bourse

Passive strategies slash energy use at the world’s largest office building

Surat Diamond Bourse

Passive strategies slash energy use at the world’s largest office building

Surat Diamond Bourse in India’s Gujarat state hosts the most sizeable community of diamond workers on the planet. The vast office building designed by Morphogenesis boasts a strong agenda for reducing energy consumption.

At around 660,000 m2 in size, Surat Diamond Bourse surpasses the Pentagon as the world’s largest office building (beating a record held by the American complex since 1943). It consists of nine office towers attached to a defining central spine.

A combination of passive strategies (such as natural ventilation, daylighting, and self-shading) and technology allows the building to consume 50% less energy than industry “green” benchmarks.

Aerial view of Surat Diamond Bourse and surrounds from the east, showing landscaped break-out zones between towers.
The vast Surat Diamond Bourse was conceived as an energy-efficient one-stop destination for a large community of diamond-industry workers.
© Edmund Sumner / Morphogenesis

The overarching objective of this project was twofold: position India as the global leader in the international market for diamond and gems; and enhance amenity for Surat’s diamond-trading community.

Over 90% of the world’s diamonds are cut in Surat. Despite this, for years, traders found themselves having to travel to metropolitan centres such as Mumbai for business transactions.

View of Surat Diamond Bourse and surrounds from the southeast, showing the round Diamond Club annex in the foreground.
Recreational and retail venue the Diamond Club sits between two overlapping curved walls at the southeast corner of the site.
© Edmund Sumner / Morphogenesis

Surat Diamond Bourse consolidates all facets of the diamond business: cutting, polishing, processing, and trading. Around 67,000 people use the building, which sits on a 35.5-acre site. It contains around 4,500 offices of various sizes within a total built-up area of 660,451.9 m2.

An atrium space within the central spine from the vantage point of a middle floor, showing planter beds and walkways.
Atria within the central spine deliver natural ventilation, daylight, and greenery to the interior and provide break-out spaces.
© Edmund Sumner / Morphogenesis

The central axis is aligned with the prevalent wind direction and connects the north-south-oriented, 15-storey office towers at every floor level. The spine also contains break-out spaces and green atria. Landscaped areas lay between the towers.

The building’s facilities are numerous and include safe deposit vaults, a customs clearance house, a convention centre, exhibition centres, training centres, entertainment areas, and restaurants. The Diamond Club occupies the site’s northwest corner as a rounded monolithic form.

An aerial view from the south, showing the curvature of the eastern facade of the central spine and staggered fin walls.
The central spine curves and flares out with protruding fin walls that funnel the prevailing wind inside and through the building.
© Edmund Sumner / Morphogenesis
The challenges of scale

Balancing the massive scale of the project with goals for quick access, easy navigation, and comfortable break-out zones (recalling the human-oriented exchange spaces of traditional bazaars) was a design challenge.

A person walking along a striped stone floor between two rows of columns that each have plinth seating pods at the base.
Columns are augmented by raised plinths that provide informal seating areas in an entrance zone.
© Edmund Sumner / Morphogenesis
Curved planter beds and bench seats within an atrium in the central spine. The edges of walkways are visible above.
Scalloping planter beds with integrated seating benches provide an informal break-out area within the central spine.
© Edmund Sumner / Morphogenesis

“Mobility was actually our biggest problem,” explains Manit Rastogi, Founding Partner of Morphogenesis, in Ecogradia’s first season. “How does a person know where they are in a project of that size? … And that has to fit [with] the fact that we wanted this project completed with an EPI [energy performance index] of 50 kWh per m2 per year,” he says.

Achieving a better-than-anticipated performance of around 45 kWh per m2 per year, Surat Diamond Bourse has earned the Indian Green Building Council’s Platinum rating.

Aerial view over three landscaped courtyards interspersed between four office towers on the eastern side of the central spine.
The landscaped courtyards offer flexible spaces for informal transactions, catering particularly to small-scale traders without offices.
© Edmund Sumner / Morphogenesis

The central spine and the fishbone composition of the plan is a key contributor to the low-energy outcome and circulation efficiency, which allows any worker to enter the site and reach their office in less than seven minutes.

An aerial view of the building and surrounds from the northeast showing nine 15-storey blocks attached to the central spine.
Nine 15-storey rectangular blocks are attached to a central spine. The complex is built across 35 acres of land.
© Edmund Sumner / Morphogenesis
Planning for efficient performance

The community spaces and circulation areas are naturally ventilated, which contributes to passive cooling.

Tall fin walls flare out at both ends of the spine to funnel prevailing winds and make use of the Venturi effect. On non-windy days, the staggered atria allow the escape of hot air through the stack effect.

A diagrammatic plan illustrating the sun path and the flow of natural breeze through the central spine.
Being narrower at its mid-point, the naturally ventilated central spine makes use of the Venturi effect to assist air flow along its length.
© Morphogenesis
A section diagram of how break-out zones encourage air movement using the passive design strategy of the stack effect.
Garden areas and floor cutaways in the central spine’s atria are staggered to encourage the movement of air through the stack effect.
© Morphogenesis

The north-south orientation of the self-shading office towers, along with their narrow floor plates, allow for a reduced reliance on artificial lighting. More than 75% of internal spaces are daylit and glare free. The common areas run on solar power. A dry aquifer stores harvested rainwater.

Surat Diamond Bourse also features one of the largest installations of radiant cooling, with some 300 km of pipes circulating chilled water throughout the building. 40% of the built-up volume is cooled by this energy-efficient system.

Two construction photos (one of them a close-up) showing loops of red radiant cooling pipes laid on the unfinished floor.
Photos taken during construction show the laying of radiant cooling pipes in the floor.
© Morphogenesis

Locally sourced and manufactured materials were favoured, including Gwalior white sandstone on the tower exteriors and Lakha red granite on the central spine. These were sourced within a 300 km radius and handled by stone-working communities from the Deccan Plateau.

Manufacturing units were set up locally to support construction. As described by Sonali Rastogi, Founding Partner of Morphogenesis, on Ecogradia, “It’s actually an incredible example of … how decentralised manufacturing can happen.”

A perforated screen of Lakha red granite casts a shadow on a facade of Gwalior white sandstone.
The combination of local Lakha red granite and Gwalior white sandstone on the exterior creates a striking visual identity for the building.
© Edmund Sumner / Morphogenesis

Surat Diamond Bourse reinforces the idea that economic development and environmental consciousness can go hand in hand with strategic decisions taken on the drawing board.

Inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2023, the project was awarded at the World Architecture Festival 2023 under the Completed Buildings — Office category.

To learn more about Morphogenesis, listen to Season 1, Episode 4 of Ecogradia where Manit and Sonali share their perspectives on sustainable architecture.

A Green-certified project is third-party assessed, wherein it is certified to the highest level. It offers evidence of performance, across several distinct categories, that is validated by performance modelling and/or post-occupancy measurements.

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Fact Sheet

Disclaimer: Location provided as reference only. Exact site may differ.

DREAM City, Plot No. 177/P, near International Exhibition and Convention Centre, Khajod, Surat, Gujarat 395007

W: Surat Diamond Bourse

Under the Köppen climate classification, these are ‘A’ climate types. Tropical climates have warm, moist conditions year-round, with high precipitation and narrow diurnal temperature swings. These climates occur typically between 15 °N to 15 °S latitude. Here, the available net solar radiation is large and relatively constant from month to month resulting in both high temperatures (generally in excess of 18 °C [64 °F]) and a virtual absence of thermal seasons. In many locations, annual rhythm is provided by the occurrence of wet and dry seasons.

Environmental classification
Indian Green Building Council Platinum rating

Efficiency of Chillers
0.87 kW/TR

Cooling efficiency of radiant cooling system
7,000 sq ft/TR

Total onsite production with renewables
900 MWh/year

Capacity of solar installation
600 kWp

Wall to window ratio
30% windows

Natural ventilation reliance
40% of spaces naturally ventilated

Space savings

Efficient services and parking plan saves 25% of construction area

Client
Surat Diamond Bourse

Architect
Morphogenesis

Mechanical & Electrical Engineer
AECOM, Mumbai

Civil & Structural Engineer
JW Consultants LLP

Landscape Architect
IPDM Services

Quantity Surveyor
Gleeds Hooloomann Consulting India Pvt. Ltd

Project Manager
Masters PMC

Principal Builder
PSP Projects Ltd

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