A review of fire and ventilation arrangements highlighted some unforeseen problems on an 11 storey high rise block in Newham.

An interesting development on an 11 storey block in Newham recently showed us once again that there are inherent problems in the design of many buildings which still need to be addressed

Originally, we were engaged to carry out a fairly standard range of services – easing, adjusting and lubricating the window operating mechanisms, re-glazing all the windows to make them much more thermally efficient for the residents, converting the communal Tilt and Turn handles to Tilt Only for safety, and upgrading the stairway glazing from single, to a more thermally efficient double glazed arrangement.

However, it became apparent that this was a site with particular challenges, and after a review of the fire and ventilation arrangements, we were asked to devise a range of innovative, bespoke solutions to deal with some key issues.

Not the least of these was that there were concerns about the integrity of the fire breaks between floor levels, something that the client was especially keen to address.

To overcome the issues, we changed the kitchen windows on the North & South Elevations from full-height screens to half-height windows to allow a fire-rated structure to be created below to form a fire-break between floors. For aesthetic reasons it was decided that a colour panel would be introduced to blend in with the new external wall installation. Finally, we Introduced fire-rated doors to the secondary balcony doors to the flats leading to the staircase for additional fire protection.

Coupled to the primary concern was the need to install significantly better ventilation into the communal areas of the flats, and into the kitchens where the existing systems were simply insufficient.

To enhance the ventilation in the flats we provided new double-glazed units with holes to enable the installation of mechanical ventilators to the East & West Elevations and in the communal areas introduced fixed Aluminium Louvres.

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