As a builder or an architect, what comes to your mind first when you think of designing a new building?
Most people think about the placement of rooms, ventilation and easy accessibility within the house. Elevators make multi-storey homes more accessible, are becoming increasingly important as cities expand. Nowadays, most buildings have more than one or two storeys and climbing stairs is a herculean task for many, especially senior citizens.
Buildings in the past, had very few storeys and did not require an elevator. However, in today’s time the possibility of needing an elevator in the building is high. In the case the house or building doesn’t have an elevator, it still makes sense to plan for an elevator in the case of expansion or renovation.
Apartment complexes and multi-storey houses most certainly require elevators. In medium and large apartment blocks, the need for an elevator is so high that it is often integrated intuitively with the design process of the building. Many of these buildings either require multiple elevators or elevators with high load carrying capacity.
The elevator design is chosen based on the number of floors served, the number of people likely to be boarding the elevator, the elevator’s speed, and the number of elevators in an elevator bank. Most home elevators incorporate only one elevator. Once the model and number of elevators is chosen, the entire structure housing the elevator, including the pit and shaft have to be designed. In the case the building owner or customer doesn’t want an elevator constructed, but may construct one in future, it makes sense to plan by approximating on the load and traffic that that the elevator may experience and accordingly leave a space for it.
The best practice in leaving spaces for elevators for residences, includes providing more area than required. If the space provided is less than the space required, a compromise will have to be made either on the capacity of the elevator or in the construction.
In the case a space is not provided for elevators during the constriction, significant renovations will have to be undertaken during the construction and installation of the elevator.
When a building is designed, it isn’t enough to just provide space for the elevator, the position of the elevator pit needs to also be strategically designed. Elevators are commonly placed in three different positions, i.e. Inside the building, outside the building and between staircases. As an architect or designer, you need to identify which layout suits the building’s requirements the best. You can make a choice based on the aesthetic requirements, features of the building and space available post consulting the building owner and the elevator company.
Allocating a space (for the elevator) either opposite or adjacent to the staircase is a popular layout in apartments and residential buildings. In the past, the placement of the elevator in the centre of the staircase used to be among the preferred layouts. However, this can post a safety threat in the case of a fire and has been prohibited by the law since 2016. Therefore, to have the same visibility and accessibility, placing the elevator near the staircase is now preferred. In a house that has already been constructed with a space left for the elevator in the centre of the staircase, a new layout or position needs to be identified for the elevator.
In smaller houses and buildings, placing the elevator next to the staircase isn’t a necessity. If you want an elevator in the building but not necessarily within a staircase, then an elevator can be established through the floor decks. This elevator layout, also known as floor deck layout, may require considerable modifications within the house if the requisite space has not been provided in advance. When designing houses, if the designer chooses to incorporate the floor deck layout, the architect or designer can adequately provide for it in the design stage itself.
If the design of the house cannot feature an elevator within the house, an external elevator may be constructed. These elevators do not take up space within the house, but considerable modification is required in the exterior of the house.
The elevator requires a housing or shaft, in which the cabin of the lift and the mechanisms are housed. In residential elevators, the size of the pit and shaft depends upon the elevator model selected, and depth of the pit is designed to accommodate the mechanisms that are placed in it.
Architects and designers need to prepare space for the elevator and its shaft, and particularly need to ensure that no load bearing element, such as a pillar or obstructs the space allocated for the elevator stem (pit) and shaft. In elevator banks, comprising more than one elevator, the pillars or beams may be situated in the space between the elevators.
Planning for the elevator can help in a multitude of ways. It can make the elevator match with the background of the house, instead of standing out as an oddball. Here are some of the other advantages of planning for elevators within the house.
- The actual footprint of an elevator is typically the size of a large close, A stem or even an elevator shaft can be included within your home design and disguised or repurposed as a series of closets. In the case an elevator needs to be incorporated, it can be done very easily with very minor renovations.
- In response to an aging society desiring to remain at home, architects have been designing residences for the future addition of an elevator. You may not need an elevator now, but it may be a convenience, or even a necessity, in the future. To facilitate this, incorporating a shaft or space for the elevator into the design of the house is important.
- In the case of new homes where an elevator is going to be incorporated into the construction process right from the beginning, preparing for the shaft and elevator layout helps the elevator match with the surrounds and not look odd.
- If you are building or planning to build a new house, do not overlook the placement of the elevator. Have a consultation with the architect and the elevator company, before you plan your construction.
It is a smart decision to consider the elevator when you plan for construction!