Mixed-use 6-storey development at 150 Curtain Road, London EC2

The existing 5-storey building had office accommodation over the lower 3 floors and a storey was to be added so that the upper three floors would form new flats and duplexes. There was a single full height staircase at the front and an external steel fire escape serving lower storeys at the rear. Construction of the residential units was well advanced. The problem was that building regulation guidance (para 2.51 of AD B) could be interpreted to mean that the new residential units should have independent alternative escape routes. I surveyed the building, discussed the proposals with the architect and developed a fire safety strategy which involved much improved lobby protection to the staircase, a smoke ventilation scheme for the stairs, a comprehensive fire detection/alarm scheme, and consideration of the use of the flat roofs of the developer and his neighbour as temporary safe refuges. By tracking the route of occupants from any room, for any fire location, it could be seen that there was always two escape routes available to a place of safety in the open air. The strategy was accepted by building control.

Client: Douglas & King Ltd, architects, London EC2.