Big projects such as the construction of a
high-rise building require a lot of planning. One of the aspects that need to
be covered during the planning stage is safety, mainly how the high-rise
building can provide maximum safety to its occupants.
For high-rise buildings, safety becomes a
factor that needs to be managed head-on. There are risks that need to be
mitigated before the structure is deemed safe for its occupants. What are the
safety considerations for the construction of high-rise buildings? Let’s take a
closer look, shall we?
The structure of a high-rise building must
be able to handle a much bigger load than one or two-story houses, so
structural integrity becomes an essential factor to get right from the planning
stage. Calculations related to the design of the building, its weight-bearing
capacity, and the overall load capacity of the structure are usually done
multiple times before the project is started.
This is also the reason why high-rise
structures use steel reinforcement inside concrete. The addition of steel
pilings in the foundations adds strength and load capacity.
At the same time, the use of steel pile
reinforcement also helps with the building’s fire resistance. Heaton Products
is an expert of reinforcement cages and columns for structural integrity. The
prefabricated cages are designed to be fire resistant as well. You can consider
the steel reinforcement cage here to help provide that integrity to your
structure. There is also more information on that page which may help.
For reinforcement, steel cages are usually
added before concrete is poured. In some cases, steel bars and beams are added
to the exterior of the concrete to introduce extra rigidity. In both cases, the
properties of steel piling allow the high-rise building to absorb more ground
movement and external force by extending its limit.
Every high-rise building needs to be
designed and constructed with fire risks in mind. Certain concrete additives,
insulation, and interior materials are not used in the construction of
high-rise buildings for this reason. Those materials are flammable, and they increase
the risk of catastrophic fire in the structure.
Fire resistance is also the reason why
modern high-rise buildings are designed as compartments. A thick layer of
concrete and steel reinforcement separates each floor so that fire can be
contained in each compartment. Some construction projects even go as far as
dividing a floor into smaller compartments for better fire control.
To mitigate fire safety risks further,
buildings are required to have accessible entrances and exits, along with a
capable fire control system. This is also the reason why modern high-rise
projects are designed with channels for sprinklers, multiple sources of water,
and more fire escapes. The goal of these elements is boosting the building’s
ability to withstand fire.
Studies have shown that fire is not the
primary cause of death in previous building fire cases. That main cause of
death is actually smoke. Occupants are more likely to die of asphyxiation than
of fire. This shows another risk
that high-rise buildings must mitigate: poor air movement and circulation.
As an added safety layer, many buildings
now implement air ventilation systems with rapid-exchange features. The system
operates normally under normal load, but a more powerful circulation fan (or
fans) kicks in as soon as a fire alarm is triggered.
The entire air ventilation system can be
designed to keep smoke up and away from occupants in the event of a fire. The
same system is also capable of handling additional risks associated with air
movement, including the risk of contamination.
For high-rise buildings that exceed a
certain height, it may also be necessary to add an air processing unit as part
of the HVAC system. The additional system helps maintain a healthy oxygen level
and clean the interior air from foreign particles that can be harmful to the
In a high-rise building, evacuation is a
real challenge. There are more occupants across the many floors, so a
conventional evacuation route through a single emergency stairway is far from
enough. Experts in evacuation procedures now work with architects so that a
suitable evacuation flow – and a building layout that supports it – is put in
A high-rise building may require multiple
stairways and emergency exits positioned in different areas of the building.
Depending on the estimated number of occupants and the number of floors the
building has, alternative evacuation designs and methods may also be used.
There are some interesting
evacuation methods to explore as well.
Phased evacuation, for instance, manages
the flow of evacuation by evacuating floors in stages. Some designers also
reintroduced the idea of elevator evacuation to further push the flow of
occupants going out of the building in the event of a disaster.
By covering these basic risks and
considering them from the planning stage, a high-rise building project can
proceed with safety in mind. The sooner these risks are mitigated and managed,
the safer the building will be once it is completed and occupied.