Involved in every construction project, architects have a keen eye for detail, and invest vast amounts of time and energy into designing the aesthetic elements of a building.
Beyond the aesthetic design of the building, they must also consider other aspects such as structural integrity, costs, sustainability and fire safety.
Although all of these factors are part and parcel of the creation of a new building and architects are aware of the fire safety requirements that are put in place and strive to create safe buildings, the involvement of fire engineers can help to achieve increased design freedom without compromising on safety.
Dedicated Fire Engineers
Typically, architects work within the scope of code-compliant fire safety solutions, however by working with dedicated fire engineers from the earliest possible stage, construction costs and project times can be reduced.
By adopting an engineered approach, fire engineers can suggest possible methods of overcoming fire safety issues within a design as it’s created and incorporate fire safety within the holistic building design, rather than modifying plans at a later stage, with potentially costly consequences. Through this collaboration a more cohesive design can be created, without the need for compromises to be made.
An engineered solution can achieve many benefits to a building’s design – travel distances can be extended and the creation of larger compartments can be justified, allowing architects to create large, open-plan spaces with increased floor space which may not be permitted by the somewhat restrictive building codes.
Another key advantage of taking this approach is its ability to provide a value engineered solution. By looking creatively at a building’s safety requirements, fire engineers can often justify the inclusion of simplified fire systems, even removing unnecessary expensive systems from the building’s specification. This approach can also allow the removal of secondary staircases and sprinkler systems, as well as the use of non-standard escape routes providing significant cost savings.
In addition, fire engineering consultants are able to provide detailed designs of smoke ventilation and residential sprinkler systems. Although ordinarily undertaken by the appointed sub-contractor, this may lead to delays in the approvals process, by working directly with engineers, who can provide their expertise to ensure the correct placement of smoke ventilation and sprinkler systems, these delays are removed, while also eliminating the possibility of costly alterations later in the build process.
In order to achieve these benefits, architects must cooperate more closely with fire engineers, either by employing their own in-house engineer – which can prove costly – or by appointing an independent third-party fire engineering firm, which also offers the benefit of providing a full team’s combined experience.
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