The Articulated Funiculators Potential to Evacuate High-rise Buildings

By Caroline Eriksson Lantz and Emelie Skröder in 2013 Download thesis as PDF


Staircases have been a vital part for evacuation strategy since the first high-rise buildings. Due to this approach staircases cause walking difficulties for occupants and elevators were introduced as a possibility for means of egress. Elevators have proved to shorten the evacuation time and facilitate the evacuation process. A draft of a new vertical transportation system, the Articulated Funiculator, is being invented to evacuate occupants faster and with a fewer number of shafts than conventional elevators. This may increase the area of use which will increase the efficiency and lower costs for the building industry.

The intention with this thesis is to outline an evacuation strategy with the new system in highrise buildings in order to see its potential with evacuation in case of fire in assemblies, protection against hazards to the system and the possibilities with rescue effort. Current systems will be compared with the Articulated Funiculator in heights of 100-900 meters. The occupancy classes compared will be assemblies and office floors in the building.

Building codes provide partial guidance in how vertical transportation systems shall be designed and applied to the Articulated Funiculator system. However the design of the system will need further development in association with the building regulations. The strategy is to evacuate occupants to an area of refuge while waiting for the transportation down to exit the building. It is possible to design an acceptable means of egress with the Articulated Funiculator if the areas of refuge, stations, shafts and cars can obstruct fire and smoke.

The Articulated Funiculator is beneficial in regards to evacuation time and the total number of units compared with conventional elevator systems at all heights of buildings that are studied. However, the system is more convincing at height above 200 meters though. The number of cars per train that are the most suitable is either two or three. The benefits of the system increase with higher buildings (+200 meters) and with a large amount of occupants.