Er brannsikkerhet ved landskapsdesign et område som blir ivaretatt?
Landskapsdesign kan være et aspekt man glemmer å tenke på knyttet til brannsikkerhet. Risikovurderingen kan feiltolkes og bli sett på som mindre viktig. Uteområder rundt bygninger skal som regel se pene ut, være mest mulig arealeffektive, og utnyttes best i forhold til utsikt, vær og vind, solforhold mm. En plan for brannsikkerheten utendørs kan fort bli glemt. Hvor brannmannskap skal hente vann fra, og om det er tilrettelagt for utrykningskjøretøy, kan være problemer som oppdages i etterkant av et byggeprosjekt.
The landscape or site design can be one of the aspects that are not directly consciously linked to fire safety, as its effect can be widely misinterpreted and underrated. The site design is usually looked at as designing the location and orientation of the building according to sun and wind conditions, views, and required aesthetics. It’s also when the accessibility to the site is determined, as well as all the vegetation and features that surround the building.
The fire safety aspect
The more and early on they can collaborate, the better and quicker the project can be achieved.
However, and within the landscape design phase as well, additional details for the site plan and landscaping are specified, including water supply locations, firefighter’s access routes and their dimensioning, and possible blockages and alternatives of those. It is also considered that building ornaments, sculptures, and vegetation would not add up to existing fuel amounts, ignition possibilities, or hinder evacuation or emergency response. This is usually when the fire engineer is introduced to determine all those aspects and should try their best to achieve the vision of the designer or landscape architect.
In some cases, the landscape designer is introduced at a later stage of the design and should then have to deal with the design solutions that were proposed by the architects and the fire engineers. In this case, the architect has most probably applied solely the fire performance guidance for the design while disregarding the landscape requirements, which might pose a challenge to the landscape designer.
Different Understanding of Concepts
When the above happens, and due to the low level of understanding that fire engineers might have to landscape design concepts, they might resort to merely drawing rectangles that refer to where the fire trucks will be parked, without considerations to their ways in and out (including distances and turning radii). According to the regulations, the fire engineers would add the supposed locations of the fire trucks without any thought to their driving patterns.
Afterwards, the landscape designers are required to amend the design and complete the drawings based on that. Though fire engineers can sometimes have extensive dialogues and discussions with architects, they rarely check with landscape architects on various design aspects and how that would affect the fire concept. Because of the fact that fire trucks are large and require specific aspects in terms of allocated free space (that doesn’t include any ornaments, furnishings, vegetation), floor grading, distance to surrounding areas, and such, the most effective solution would be to design those features as early as possible into the design phase. When that’s not done, it poses major issues for landscape architects specifically to find effective solutions for those fire truck spots later into the project.
Moreover, the specific requirements for water supply and fire hydrants pose a challenge for landscape architects for accommodating the municipal regulations while still managing to create functional and aesthetic surrounding environments for projects. In addition to that, materials need to be well selected to ensure their fire resistance characteristics as well as their strength in handling both fire and the load of fire trucks, which almost always incurs high financial costs.
As with the case of design architects, the issue of different priorities pops up when discussing the fire engineer/landscape architect relationship. It might be proposed that the landscape designer is capable of looking at the whole picture, while the fire engineer only addresses the elements that matter to them, from a fire safety perspective, thus maybe offering much less creativity and innovation.
Fire engineers and landscape architects can “think”, analyze, and convey their thoughts each according to their own priorities in the project. A site plan drawn from a fire engineer’s point of view clearly marks the fire exits, the location and orientation of the fire trucks, the security bollards, among other fire safety issues.
However, the landscape architect would have a lot more variables to consider. Their site plan would need to at least include the turning radii needed by the fire trucks, the location of the trash bins that might hinder their movement, the location of the water and gas pipelines, the HVAC connections, and the line of trees required by the regulations on the neighboring border. All these issues would undeniably affect the proposed fire plan. Such issues are what make it essential for both fire engineers and landscape architects to be able to see the whole picture when designing, which would in turn lead to much more effective design and collaboration process.
Recently, there has been some changes to requirements related to fire trucks and their access. This is mainly due to all the technological makeovers and new advancements that fire trucks are getting, resulting in newer and bigger fire trucks. Consequently, the access routes and turning radii of those routes would need to be modified accordingly, putting even bigger pressure on modifying designs. Flexibility for future use and the adaptability of the design is crucial.
Moreover, and in certain areas of residential nature, especially older zoning models, the types and widths of roads are not constructed in a way which can handle the new additions to the fire-fighting technologies, in terms of trucks and their requirements. Thus, the dimensioning of certain complexes within such areas becomes quite difficult, if not almost impossible. Urban zoning regulations should be able to take such matters into consideration.
Engineers and Landscape designers need to collaborate more
This is always the key aspect. Better collaboration between architects, landscape designers, and fire engineers is crucial to achieve better designs. The more and early on they can collaborate, the better and quicker the project can be achieved. Each of them sharing their knowledge and expertise and making sure that their priorities align would undoubtedly lead to more successful projects, those that require minimal design amendments along the line.
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Amani er en libanesisk arkitektingeniør med en spesiell interesse for fagfeltet sikkerhet. Hun har også en Mastergrad i brannsikkerhet fra Høgskulen på Vestlandet (HVL), som hun var ferdig med i 2020. Hun har siden begynnelsen av 2021 jobbet som Graduate Fire Engineer ved Arup UK, og skriver med brennende engasjement for Brennaktuelt.no på fritiden.