The Belgian city of Antwerp is known as a global center for diamond trade, while most gemstones are mined in Russia or Africa. However, about 250 kilometers north of Mumbai in India, lies a lesser-known gem capital: Surat, where about 90 percent of all diamonds on the planet are cut.
Now, though, this city in the Gujarat state is gaining fame for a record-breaking building.
It’s the recently opened Surat Diamond Bourse, a project by the architectural firm Morphogenesis. This business building located on the outskirts will house over 67,000 diamond industry professionals, including diamond cutters, polishers, and traders.
The vast 15-story complex is designed as a series of nine rectangular structures or wings on over 35 hectares of land. With this, it surpasses the record previously held by the Pentagon, which reigned supreme for 80 years with a surface area of 620,000 square meters.
The complex spans over 7.1 million square meters and is expected to welcome its first occupants in November, after four years of construction work, including two delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Photos of the building reveal marble floors and light-filled atriums connecting more than 4,700 office spaces, which can also serve as small workshops for diamond cutting and polishing. The $388 million complex also features 131 elevators, as well as restaurants, retail spaces, wellness facilities, and conference centers.
The building was designed by the Indian architectural firm Morphogenesis, which won an international competition. Breaking the record previously held by the Pentagon wasn’t part of the competition, but the size of the project was dictated by demand, and all capacities and offices were already purchased by diamond companies before construction began.
The architects hope that sustainable design will shape the future development of the city, where summer temperatures can exceed 50 degrees. They claim that their design consumes 50 per cent less energy than the maximum allowed to achieve a platinum rating by the Indian Green Building Council.
While individual offices, ranging from 28 to several thousand square meters, will rely on traditional air conditioning, approximately half of the building is estimated to be cooled naturally, and communal areas are powered by solar energy.
The building is designed so that any office can be reached from any entry point within seven minutes.
Photo: Edmund Sumner