By: Hanan Rawashdeh
When having a crisis happening and the situation demands immediate exit of the building such as in cases of fires, tornadoes, hurricane attacks, earthquakes and even terrorist attacks sometimes the standard emergency staircases are just not enough for evacuation. Chutes have been used before by firefighters to increase the speed of evacuation in these cases. But can architecture play a role in enhancing that fast escape?? And has it done so before?
Earlier in the 1880’s metal sliding tubes were added to buildings to provide quick escapes for people to use in severe cases such as fires. Nowadays we don’t see such fire escapes in schools, despite the fact that this method can evacuate a large number of people within a very short period of time. During the 1870s fire escapes were permanent iron structure attached alongside the buildings, some were normal staircases others were straight ladders but these techniques proved to be inefficient when needed as some would be in a poor case of erosion and in need of maintenance or simply because people were not used to them. When emergencies that require rapid action are present people tend to escape the same way they normally do on regular times since they are programmed to do so. In hasty moments people tend to quickly jump to the first solution provided without really considering other options and weighing their success. Some didn’t even have knowledge of the location of these exits. As a response architects started to place fire or emergency escape stairs in apparent locations where they are visible and can be used without hazardous situations. This improved the implementation of using the emergency stairs but didn’t exactly help in decreasing the time needed to escape. Furthermore the use of staircases for emergency egress isn’t suitable for the elderly and people with disabilities.
So why not reincorporate what was used before as a means of quick escape from a building? A metal tube, but like the development of fire staircases. This method of escape shouldn’t be just added to the building with no other function, but can be incorporated in the design of the building itself to be used as regularly as any type of circulation method. There are some modern cases where Metal tubes are represented in the design of the building to add dynamic and a sense of lighthearted environment to the place. For example the metal tubes used in Technische Universitat in Munich, Germany and other offices. It has been taken as a design approach to enhance the environment of the space making it more fun and adaptable to ones needs but can be further exploited to means of quick escape for instance in educational facilities, public buildings and even in hospitals.