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Designing Buildings to Cope with Emergencies: Findings from Case Studies on Exit Preferences

Sagun, Aysu
Anumba, Chimay J.
Bouchlaghem, Dino
Static information found in current building design guidance documents is not adequate to achieve efficient safety and security in public buildings during emergencies. There is a need to consider space characteristics and dynamic information related to building use, behavior and movement of users in various circumstances, as well as their interactions with each other and with their immediate environment. This paper explores the building design issues associated with safety and security and focuses on the exit preferences of building occupants during emergency evacuations. Exit preferences of users in public buildings were investigated using two types of case studies: Observation Case Studies (OCS) and Simulation Case Studies (SCS). The findings from the associated questionnaires and logistic analysis of the OCS data showed that "distance" and "familiarity" with the building were the two most important factors for exit preference in office buildings. It was also found that imbalanced use of exit doors considerably increases the evacuation time. Finally, further research study opportunities are discussed. SCS underscored the difference between evacuation assumptions in current building guidance compared with the results of real life experiments.