Designing for building safety advice, Construction H&S tips, Home build protection guide, Removing property hazards and risks

Designing For Building Safety: Principles to Consider for Your Next Project

29 December 2023

Designing for building safety: construction principles
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Design and planning are chief components in every construction work, setting the foundation for the entire process. The built environment tremendously impacts a person’s quality of life, so architects are responsible for the safety of those who inhabit the place. The edifice’s construction involves sweat but shouldn’t involve blood and tears. Therefore, you must study the design and take into account the risks of the proposed work and those affected by it. Manage safety risks throughout the structure’s lifecycle – safety isn’t a separate concept from good design. As a matter of fact, they go hand in hand.

If you design out the hazards and risks, you don’t have to worry about the costs of the modification, that is, the materials and team used to tackle the job. Designing a building for safety requires a proactive approach that envisions (and protects) the occupants, resources, and structure from multiple threats. The client plays a very important role in the project process, influencing major decisions, but they can’t limit the architect’s creativity. When the context is set, tick off these phases to make your building successful.

Examine Potential Options for Development by Assessing Their Pros and Cons

If you want to create a safe and secure building, find a suitable location and plan the layout and orientation of the building. Any location you have in mind should be easily accessible, meaning it should be close to one or more major roads and served by public transportation. Parking availability is also very important, so consider the layout of the garage as well. Above all, you should avoid building in flood zones, earthquake-prone regions, coastal areas prone to storm surges, or high-risk wildfire zones. Natural disasters can be destructive, and climate change is making them even more violent.

The building should be east-west rather than north-south to take advantage of sunlight and minimise glare from the rising or setting sun. Face the construction to maximise breathtaking scenic views. Install as many windows as possible, but not too many; the exact number required differs for each place. Place the windows strategically to ensure a “wow” factor. Floor-to-ceiling windows and solid glass walls can create a magnificent visual effect. Ensure the air flows from one side of the building to the other by creating openings on opposite the walls; cross-ventilation is effective in hot and humid climates, using wind or breezes to move the air through the room.

Be Certain the Building Envelope Assists with Occupant Comfort and Safety

The building envelope (exterior walls, roof, foundation, windows, doors) is crucial as far as protecting inhabitants from external elements is concerned. Regardless of the type of structure you’re designing, the envelope plays a key role in the structural soundness, climate, and energy efficiency of the place. It’s the barrier between the exterior and interior environments, so properly designing and optimising the envelope is paramount for any new construction (or retrofit project). The building envelope should be durable, resilient, and adaptable to changing scenarios and climates. Additionally, it should be energy-efficient, water-efficient, and fire-resistant.

Incorporating low-impact, renewable, and recyclable materials into the envelope can reduce the building’s carbon footprint and contribute to its overall sustainability. The building envelope is an important interface between the indoor and outdoor environment, so the main objective of design should be to avoid the resource depletion of energy, water, and raw materials. Use materials that minimise life cycle environmental impacts like ceramics or glass. The building envelope should incorporate passive design strategies, which depend on the laws of nature, such as insulation, thermal mass, sharding, and natural ventilation. Sharing, for instance, can be operable (blinds, external louvres, deciduous trees, etc.) or fixed (overhangs, eaves, evergreen trees, etc.).

Prepare To Respond to Different Types of Emergencies and Their Impacts

Plan for emergency preparedness and response in the event of accidents, disasters, or attacks. Everyone inside the building should get out safely, in a timely and controlled manner in the case of an emergency like a fire. Thus, ensure adequate means of egress (exit routes). Accidents can occur at the building or its surrounding, and the owner is liable for the injuries sustained by another party on the property. For example, someone might sue if they slip and fall in the driveway. Property owners are accountable for negligence, so compensation can be sought by injured parties. More information is available at

There’s a need for resilience when it comes to the design of the built environment. It doesn’t, however, mean that traditional buildings aren’t safe or can’t withstand the effects of instability because architects produce structures that meet code. Besides an evacuation plan, include emergency lighting to avoid possible danger to occupants, whether through physical danger or panic, fire sprinklers and extinguishers to reduce property damage that fire causes, first aid kits to deal with minor accidents and injuries, and backup power for when the foremost power supply weakens. Most importantly, these measures should be communicated to dwellers and regularly tested and updated.

Influence And Educate User Behaviour and Awareness

Safety in buildings is closely connected to the operational and space utilisation characteristics and the behaviour of the inhabitants. Occupants have influence on account of their presence and activities in the place, meaning they have the power to control danger, risk, and injury. One of the steps you can take is to communicate clear prevention policies for your facility, focusing on topics such as flammable materials, electrical safety, and maintenance, to improve actions, attitudes, and knowledge concerning safety. It’s the starting point for future development.

Last but not least, safety should be supported by building operation, management, and the supply of information, training, and feedback. It can be implemented in different ways and with different kinds of focus. Changes in design may need further approval before work can proceed. Eliminating risks at the source is very effective in terms of preventing injury, illness, and death, so ensure hazards are eliminated and controlled at the design stage, if it’s reasonably practicable, of course.

Comments on this guide to Designing For Building Safety: Principles to Consider for Your Next Project article are welcome.

Building Designs

Contemporary Glasgow Property Designs – recent Strathclyde architectural selection below:

Buchanan Wharf Glasgow Office Development
Buchanan Wharf Glasgow Office Development

New Allander Leisure Centre
Design: Holmes Miller
Allander Leisure Centre Building in Bearsden

Burrell Collection, Pollok Country Park, southwest of the city centre
Burrell Museum

Riverside Museum, north side of the River Clyde, southwest of the city centre
Design: Zaha Hadid Architects
Riverside Museum Glasgow

Historic Glasgow : best Glasgow architecture of the past

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