Situated on the Thames’ Albert Embankment, St James Group’s substantial mixed use development, The Corniche, offers stunning views of the river and London landmarks including the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.
Comprising of three tower blocks for private office space and residential use – one of which provides senior living accommodation only – the development also includes two basement levels, containing car parking for residents and visitors as well as plant areas and refuse stores.
FDS Consult UK (FDSC) was appointed to create a full, detailed design and fire strategy for the site to ensure that building regulation requirements would be met whilst maximising saleable space for the client.
As residential accommodation blocks B & C contain a number of high-spec, open plan apartments that deviate from Approved Document B (ADB) and BS9991 guidance, FDSC was tasked with justifying the design of these large open plan layouts.
By increasing the level of fire alarm system to be installed, FDSC allowed the apartments to feature extended travel distances within protected hallways, with the system ensuring that residents would be alerted to a fire during its early stages regardless of their location within the apartment, ensuring that St James could retain its desired layout.
The plans for the two blocks also included luxury duplex apartments on the top levels. However, the open plan design required compartment sizes that exceeded the British Standard requirements for duplexes.
As these units were particularly high value and of great importance to the end client, FDSC devised a fire strategy to justify the duplex arrangement. This was achieved by ensuring that both levels of the apartments were provided with access to the common area to provide means of escape. The strategy also allowed for the removal of the ventilation of the common lobby on the top floor of these buildings, which was justified using CFD modelling.
All three of the towers are single staircase buildings, a feature which can sometimes prove problematic in mixed use developments.
Block A of The Corniche features communal dining lounges which are expected to be occupied by more than 60 people, and as the client requested a single staircase, FDSC had to justify a single direction of escape and a single exit for more than 60 occupants. To be fully code compliant the block’s design would require the addition of another staircase, or reduced occupancy levels in the dining area, which contradicted the client’s requirements.
Through the specification of mechanical smoke ventilation systems to common corridors in all three blocks, FDSC was able to justify the extended travel distances within the building. In addition, the greater occupancy numbers were validated under BS7974 guidance, which determined that the common corridor could be utilised as a place of relative safety while the building was evacuated, offering sufficient time for all occupants to escape.
As each of the three buildings stand over 30 metres in height there was a requirement for a residential sprinkler system to be used. FDSC managed to provide savings for the client by designing and supplying a system fed by the properties’ cold water boosted mains, saving money and space by removing the need for additional tanks, pumps, valves, pipework.
Due to the development’s two-level basement car park, it was necessary to specify a firefighting shaft that served these underground areas. This also meant that the residential lobbies that are used to access the parking area should be provided with 1m² vents to channel smoke to the building’s exterior above ground level. By enhancing the car park mechanical ventilation system FDSC was able to justify the removal of these vents from all cores, providing a host of cost and space savings.
The other areas accessed from the residential lobby, including the cinema and refuse stores, would also require the inclusion of protected lobbies served by a 0.4m2 vent. As a cost effective alternative, FDSC provided smoke curtains, ensuring that in the event of a fire in one of these rooms a curtain will descend, stopping the spread of smoke to the residential lobby, to provide occupants with an alternative escape route out of the building.
By designing this combination of solutions for the development, FDS Consult UK was able to provide St James with significant cost savings while offering residents and visitors with an appropriate level of fire safety. For more information about this project please download the case study or contact us on 01322 387411 / email [email protected]