Project Description

HoUSe and Mansion HoUSe | England

The project

HoUSe and Mansion HoUSe

Location: Across England

Sector: Residential

Client: Urbansplash

Value: various

The brief

New housing stock in the UK can be dull and repetitive, offering little excitement or flexibility.

Instead of accepting this norm, Urbansplash and ShedKM worked together to develop a housing concept where the purchaser has the flexibility to decide the layout of their own home, with larger floor to ceiling heights, bigger windows and enabling buyers to get what they want, the day they move in. The concept they developed is known as HoUSe.

The fire strategy needed to support this concept but – as these are private residential dwellings – it had to be simple to understand and maintain.

Urbansplash and ShedKM asked OFR to develop a fire strategy for all of their 3-storey houses, whatever internal layout arrangement the purchaser picked, be that with large open-plan living spaces, or a more traditional arrangement. A HoUSe with the same floor area could have just one bedroom or five.

The team were also working on flats – blocked together as Mansion HoUSe buildings. A flat in these blocks could be fully open-plan or have one or two bedrooms separated from the living space. OFR looked at not only the internal fire strategy but also at the core arrangements to optimise space requirement and give owners the maximum space possible in their homes.

The solution

The challenge with an open-plan house or flat is that the occupants may need to escape through a room where a fire has broken out, when they are on an upper storey.

Well-documented studies have investigated the benefits of both sprinklers and automatic detection and alarm to supporti this type of open-plan living.

Urbansplash were supportive of our recommendation to have sprinklers in both the HoUse and Mansion HoUSe properties, appreciating the benefits this brings both to life safety and enabling flexible living. Automatic alarm and detection to all rooms also provides occupants the earliest warning to alert them to the need to escape.

In the Mansion HoUSe flat blocks, the nature of the flats meant that there would not necessarily be entrance halls and similarly, the core arrangement was for a wide and open stair.

The OFR specialist CFD team therefore developed a natural ventilation strategy for the stair, which considered escape tenability over the duration of a fire, and the approach was to maintain a tenable route of escape if occupants not in the flat of fire origin chose to escape. This approach was tested based on a number of fire scenarios and locations to ensure a sufficient level of robustness.

Over the course of the project, we worked closely not only with the client team, but also with the Approving Authorities, agreeing principles and design objectives in advance of reporting and modelling.