Designing Buildings to Cope with Emergencies: Findings from Case Studies on Exit Preferences
- Controls building access;
- Prevents targeting occupants;
- Integrates visual and audio notifications;
- Enables efficient evacuation.
- Means of ingress;
- Means of egress.
2. Building Design for the Safety of Users during Emergencies
- People flow rate;
- Door dimensions;
- Visibility of the exits;
- Door condition (open or closed);
- Building geometry;
- Obstacles on the way to exits (furniture, columns, etc.);
- Circulation routes;
- Familiarity with the exit door;
- Distance to the exit;
- Visibility of the exit door;
- Movement of other people;
- Orientation of the fire marshals;
- Obstacles on the exit route;
- Queuing in front of the doors.
3.1. Research Approach
- Review requirements and procedures for crowd safety during emergencies, and current relevant building design information, guidelines and standards;
- Review people flow simulation tools and techniques to establish their suitability for use within the context of crowd modelling for emergency events;
- Customise a suitable evacuation modelling software and conduct scenario-based case studies;
- Define guidelines that specify improved designs that ensure better safety of users during emergency events within large public spaces.
3.2. The Case Studies
3.2.1. Observation Case Studies (OCS)
- Identify exit preferences during evacuations;
- Observe behavior during emergency events (in this case, a fire alarm);
- Identify the factors affecting the exit choice;
- Observe the evacuation time and factors that affects the evacuation time.
- Location of people in the building;
- Exit choices;
- Reasons for preferences;
- Visibility and clarity of signs;
- Orientation of people by the fire marshals.
3.2.2. Simulation Case Studies (SCS)
- Identify and validate the critical building design parameters that are important during emergency evacuations;
- Identify the changes required to building design guidelines and standards to improve the safety of users in emergencies;
- Identify the effect of exit choice on evacuation time.
- Scenario 1: The main door was closed but all other alternative exits were open
- Scenario 2: All the doors were active and open;
- Scenario 3: All alternative doors were closed and only the main door was open.
4. Analysis of the Results
- Analysis of the OCS questionnaires;
- Logistic Regression Analysis of the data from OCS;
- Findings from Simulation Case Studies.
4.1. Analysis of the Questionnaires
4.1.1. Familiarity with the Emergency Exits
4.1.2. Awareness of the Emergency Signs
4.1.3. Orientation by the Fire Marshals
4.1.4. Exits that Were Used to Evacuate the Building
4.1.5. Use of Unfamiliar Exits
4.1.6. Reasons for Exit Preferences
4.1.7. Bottleneck Problems
4.2. Logistic Regression Analysis
|Familiarity with the exits ( F). 1 = familiar; 0 = unfamiliar||Distance ratios ( R) dU/dF||CASE STUDY I Research Hub||CASE STUDY II BH Leeds||CASE STUDY III BH Glasgow||Average|
|Source||OCS I||OCS II||OCS III|
|Source||OCS I||OCS II||OCS III|
4.3. Findings from the Simulation Case Studies
- The response time after the emergency alarm was identified as 30–90 s;
- Fast walk speed was identified as 1.2 m/c;
- Stair down speed was identified as 0.8 m/s.
|Buildings||Scenario 1 (Main door blocked, all occupants use the alternative nearest exit)||Scenario 2 (All exits are open and there is an equally balanced use of exits)||Scenario 3 (All occupants use only the main door)||Increase (Scenario 2 to Scenario 3)|
|Building I||109 s||107 s||128 s||21%|
|Building II||110 s||109 s||128 s||20%|
|Building III||195 s||192 s||232 s||21%|
4.4. Evaluation of the Results
- There is not an equally balanced use of exit doors during emergency evacuations;
- The two factors that are most important in exit preference are “distance” and “familiarity” with the exits;
- The likelihood of use of familiar exits decreases as the ratio of distance to unfamiliar exit to familiar exit increase, in other words, people are more likely to use the unfamiliar exit if they are standing close to it;
- If one is standing equidistant to familiar and unfamiliar exit, it is more likely for him/her to choose the familiar door.
- The evacuation time in case of imbalanced use of exits is hugely different from the case of equally balanced use of exits, which was assumed in the current building guidance;
- The average increase in evacuation time for imbalanced use of exits compared to the equally balanced use of exits was found to be 20%.
5. Conclusions and Further Research
- Factors other than “distance” and “familiarity with the exits” (such as emergency signs, visibility, following other people), were not found to be significant in the statistical analysis;
- There is not an equally balanced use of exits during the evacuation process;
- The imbalanced use of exits increases the evacuation time;
- There is a need to revise the current building design guidance to encourage designers to use dynamic information based on user behavior in emergency situations.
Conflict of Interest
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Sagun, A.; Anumba, C.J.; Bouchlaghem, D. Designing Buildings to Cope with Emergencies: Findings from Case Studies on Exit Preferences. Buildings 2013, 3, 442-461. https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings3020442
Sagun A, Anumba CJ, Bouchlaghem D. Designing Buildings to Cope with Emergencies: Findings from Case Studies on Exit Preferences. Buildings. 2013; 3(2):442-461. https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings3020442Chicago/Turabian Style
Sagun, Aysu, Chimay J. Anumba, and Dino Bouchlaghem. 2013. "Designing Buildings to Cope with Emergencies: Findings from Case Studies on Exit Preferences" Buildings 3, no. 2: 442-461. https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings3020442