‘FIRE SAFETY IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF FACADE DESIGN’ Says Sam Robertson, General Manager, Technal Middle East, an aluminium facade systems manufacturer, who gives an insight into the challenges involved in high rise buildings.
Sam Robertson, who was at the recently concluded conference - ‘User Centric Design for High Rise Buildings’, explores the challenges of creating human-centric design for high rise buildings without compromising on safety factors and building regulations. As the Middle East is home to stellar examples of high rise buildings – from the world’s tallest tower to the world’s farthest leaning manmade tower – regulations and technologies to ensure fire safety and noise without compromising the design element is a key topic for architects and builders in the region. In this interview Robertson sheds light on the challenges involved in high rise buildings and latest fire regulations for high rise buildings in the region.
What are the challenges involved in creating a human-centric design for high rise buildings?
High rise buildings will become “Vertical Cities“ of tomorrow. The facades of these vertical cities will have to answer specific challenges of “compressed“ urban spaces, where more and more people will live per km. High rise facades need to be designed to exterior challenges, due to climate change even more severe, such as “dust storms“, “wind loads up to tornado scale“, noise related reduction of “comfort“ will have to be faced by designed to purpose product solutions for the building skin and the shape of the building itself. The building skin will get even higher importance in the future, as today the skin is just reducing the impact of the exterior climate towards the interior climate conditions, by acting mainly as a separation layer.
In the future, the building skin can, also, minimise the environmental impacts of the urban ambient areas, by active and passive design measures and products. Today's building envelopes should also be designed against threats such as fire, blast and ballistic attacks. Security for end users is of prime importance in today's tall buildings.
How can a façade be achieved without compromising on insulation or fire safety?
First and foremost, building stakeholders must insist on using tested and listed systems as fire safety is an integral part of façade design. Architects and designers need to engage with reputed aluminium system manufactures with proven track record, portfolio of products which are tested and listed by local authorities. By involving the system manufacturer at the early design stage of the project, the façade fire safety strategy can be studied and suitable insulation provisions can be addressed. Technal Middle East have a team of experts who have executed several façade fire tests and bring in a wealth of knowledge to designers and architects at an early stage of the project. This saves a lot of time and effort as the project moves into construction and review stage by authorities.
What is your opinion on the latest fire regulations for high rise buildings in the region?
The newest UAE Fire and Life Safety code is by far the most stringent and well documented code in the region. The code has been carefully curated to ensure that only approved tested systems can be used in projects. The need of the hour is awareness and further R & D. We as manufacturers need to have more dialogue with the authorities to promote awareness of safer facades, use of tested systems and invest in R&D to develop more sustainable, efficient and code complaint products.
How can one effectively prevent fire development and noise across façade systems?
One of the biggest challenges we are facing today is noise pollution in buildings. External noise can be prevented and addressed by using highly efficient, air tight, water tight insulated façade systems coupled with the use of appropriate glazing. Technal Middle East is proud to announce the world’s first ever Acoustic Simulation Software – Tech Acoustic which can seamlessly simulate acoustic performances of the glass and frame put together. The results which come from Tech Acoustic are certified by GAMBA, a globally renowned acoustic institute and gives an accuracy of +/- 1 db.
By involving the system manufacturer at the early design stage of the project, the acoustic and façade fire safety strategy can be studied and suitable insulation provisions can be addressed. Technal Middle East have a team of experts who have executed several façade fire and acoustic tests and bring in a wealth of knowledge to designers and architects at an early stage of the project. This saves a lot of time and effort as the project moves into construction and review stage by authorities.