Smoke extract ventilation for shopping centres

The Building Regulations emphasize the need for the provision of life safety systems such as smoke control in shopping centres.

A well designed smoke extract ventilation system should be able to maintain smoke free escape conditions at all occupied levels to allow the building to be evacuated with minimum risk of smoke inhalation, injury or death.

Design approaches

There are a number of design approaches available. A single approach or a number of different approaches may be used in a building, depending upon the location of the fire. The most common approaches are summarised below:

Compartmentation: Smoke control is provided by making each shop a separate, fully fire resisting compartment so that smoke does not escape into other areas. This option does not require smoke ventilation but requires expensive and restrictive construction.

Shop extract: If smoke ventilation is to be provided, maximum protection is achieved if smoke is not allowed to escape from the fire room but is directly extracted to outside. However this requires either multiple individual systems or complex ducted systems so is rarely used unless essential.

Balcony extract: The complexity of shop extract may be reduced if smoke is allowed to flow into a balcony section from one of a number of shops and extracted from under the balcony.

Mall extract: The simplest and most common system, this allows smoke to spill into the mall and be extracted from under the roof.

In city centre developments, where space is a premium, many of these projects have an underground car park, which may also require smoke and day to day ventilation. Please also refer to our Car Park Ventilation page.

Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre, Edinburgh
Meadowhall shopping centre, Sheffield

Further reading

View our Smoke Control in Shopping Centres leaflet for further information regarding the design approaches.

Next steps

If you need help designing or maintaining a smoke control system in a shopping centre, Contact Colt.

All our systems are specifically designed to blend into the building structure, and where possible are concealed until needed. They are compliant with all relevant codes and standards.