Architecture plays a crucial role in shaping the built environment around us. From residential homes to commercial buildings, architects are responsible for designing aesthetically pleasing and safe structures. Safety is one of the most critical considerations in building design. Architects must prioritize safety to ensure their designed buildings are safe and secure for their occupants. In this article, we will explore how architects can prioritize safety when designing a building.

Put The Occupant’s Safety First

One of the first and most important things you must consider when designing a safe building is the occupants. Although modern buildings are known to be safe and healthy workspaces, a possible hazardous issue may arise. 

Even if the employees have excellent health and life insurance with an adjustable life policy, OSHA or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration established a regulatory requirement known as the OSHA standard that’s obtainable in the 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Following the OSHA standards can prevent occupational injuries and illnesses once the building is completed and occupied. Creating a design that eradicates or decreases workplace hazards is ideal for avoiding mishaps. 

Put The Occupant's Safety First

Put Importance to the Building’s Life Cycle

According to Domicology expert Rex LaMore, architects and engineers must build with the building’s end cycle in mind. At the building’s end-of-life stage, the structure may be subject to external loads that could lead to yielding or deflection, thus becoming unreliable and could endanger the lives of the occupants. 

The materials of the building will also become an environmental burden. That’s why you must consider the building’s life cycle when designing a building so that you can use materials that can be reused in the future and don’t become weak even during the end cycle. This applies to creating the building’s design and the actual construction process

LaMore also said that every building has a life cycle. They will end eventually, and understanding the stages of the building’s life cycle, from the creation of the building to its maintenance and even until its demolition, will help you achieve a safe design.

Have Proper Knowledge About Safe Design

Everyone involved or influenced by design must have an up-to-date and comprehensive understanding of safe design. It means you must know your area’s relevant codes of practice and legislation. 

It includes the local environmental plans, your state’s Building Code, regulations, ministerial specifications, and the state’s planning principles.

For comprehensive understanding and to ensure your infrastructure project adheres to safety regulations, consider consulting with infrastructure consulting and engineering experts who can address any knowledge gaps you might have.

Have Proper Knowledge About Safe Design

Choose Quality Materials

One reason why you must prioritize choosing quality materials is safety. As a good architect, you must devise a plan that won’t compromise the quality of the building. 

However, you must also note that many construction companies usually disregard the architect’s design plans and opt for low-quality materials. It challenges architects like yourself, aiming to provide a high-quality structure by ensuring safety. 

Understand the Building You’re Designing

If you understand the purpose of the building you’re designing, the lifestyle of the future occupants, the work limitations, and the owner’s requirements, you’ll be able to incorporate safety effectively. 

Before starting the designing process, acquire this information by researching. You can talk with the owner to acquire the necessary details, as they’re the ones who are capable of providing you with the information you need. 

Every building has its own purpose and concept. Each of these purposes will need a specific safety feature. After understanding the purpose of the building you’re designing, you’ll know what to do with your design to prioritize its safety.

Pay Extra Attention To Details

Successful architects understand the importance of details, whether small or big. One key to creating a safe, high-performance building is careful detailing. A sturdy structure will provide a longer service life, ensure safety, and only require low cladding maintenance.

As an architect, you are the first witness if a building is a success or a failure. Therefore, you can change anything faulty in the entire plan to increase the chance of success. That’s also why many architects continue to advance knowledge in adaptation measures to decrease fatalities and property damage in hazardous events. 

You can increase the safety of the structure you’re designing by considering the building elements below:

  • Design a building with an unbroken load path that assists in holding the building frame together whenever strong winds or earthquakes exert a lateral force on the structure. You must also consider creating strong walls, floors, roofs, and foundations on the structure to attach the frame to the system and avoid slipping and overturning. 
  • During a hurricane, the roof of the structure is the most vulnerable. Inadequately fastened roofs can be easily peeled off by hurricanes. So, you must reinforce the roof materials and sheathing, boost flashing and seal the roof deck. 
  • When it comes to flooding, greater damage can result when the water meets an obstruction. You need to find a way that flood water can easily pass through the structure when such circumstances occur. This can be done by incorporating breakaway walls and flood vents to help prevent building damage during floods.
  • Other hazardous events that you need to consider are wildfires. Wildfires can spread in unprotected structure’s soffit and eaves. Designing a soffit with flattened non-combustible materials, adding fire-suppressant vents, and limiting overhangs effectively prevent uncontrollable wildfires.  

Final Thoughts

As an architect, you must keep the occupants safe by prioritizing design safety in your building plans. That’s why you must consider everything mentioned above when creating a building moving forward. Remember, don’t hesitate to seek expert advice if you aren’t sure.

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