We expect buildings to provide safe and secure shelter during exceptional events that have a potential impact on the safety of its users and occupants. Such events may involve stemming the flow of, temporarily storing and discharging copious amounts of rainwater. Snowfalls make rigid structures a necessity, along with measures to prevent snow from falling from roofs or for enabling users to free roofs from snow. High winds also mean that structures need to be rigid and that façade panelling needs to be firmly attached. High winds may even make a special building shape a necessity. Floods, earthquakes or landslides may seem rather hypothetical, but against the backdrop of climate change, we also need to take these exceptional events into account. Buildings that are built today may have to resist these kinds of attacks in the future. Where climate change is concerned, we also have to deal with increasing solar radiation and heat. This requires special attention to matters such as shading, UV filters, special glass technology, ventilation, insulation, active chilling and so on.
In terms of measures and impact, fires also need to be considered as extreme events. Safe escape routes for victims are the priority, along with good accessibility and safety for firefighters and rescuers. Damage from fire or explosions should not comprise a building’s structural components. The fire should be compartmented. Incombustible materials, resistant structures, electronic detectors and sprinklers are available on the market to make the realisation of fire-resistant buildings a possibility.
Another aspect is making buildings secure against crime. Making a building resistant to intruders and vandalism requires special attention to high-security locking systems, well-illuminated pathways with clear lines of sight, motion-sensitive illumination, alarm and surveillance systems, barriers against deliberate traffic intrusion (or ram-raiding), impact resistance of the building envelope to protect against vandalism, and graffiti-resistant surfaces.
In addition, any disruption to utility supplies should not affect the safety of users. For this reason, entrances with electronically or mechanically operated systems should always be set to manual operation during exceptional events.