As a multidisciplinary Architectural & Engineering team, we get asked a lot of questions about pharmaceutical facility design. One of the most frequently asked questions by clients during the design stage of a facility is about how to determine the construction type of the building. To answer this, it’s important to understand what is meant with the term ‘type of construction’.
What does “type of construction” mean?
Within the National Construction Code (NCC) Volume One (Section C – Fire Resistance) the ‘type of construction’, generally determines how much a building is expected to be resistant to a fire (including all building elements – structural members and non-loadbearing components).
In setting out the minimum fire-resisting construction requirements for all Class 2–9 buildings, the NCC classifies construction into three types; as Type A, Type B and Type C in descending order, according to fire resistance.
How do I identify the type of construction required?
The required minimum type of construction is determined by two factors:
1. Class of building : a measure of building’s likely use, fire load and occupants, indicates the risk level of the building, and
(For determination of building classification, refer blog: Building Classification)
2. Rise in storeys : relating to building height, determines likely time and difficulty for evacuation.
(For calculation of rise in storeys, refer blog: ‘Rise in Storeys’)
In principle, the higher risks of fire and greater building heights generally require the more resistant type of construction.
Once these are identified, the type of construction can be determined using the table below.
In a 2 storey Pharmaceutical manufacturing facility:
- Class of building: 8
- Rise in storeys : 2
Thus, the required type of construction in this case would be Type C.
What if the building comprises multiple classifications?
In this case, the type of construction applicable to the classification of the top storey applies to all storeys below it, which will ultimately result in the most fire-resisting type.
Consider a 3-storey building with:
- the first storey of Class 7,
- the second storey of Class 8, and
- the top storey entirely of Class 5.
In this case, the classification of the top storey (Class 5) applies.
Thus, the required type of construction by the use of Table 1 would be at least Type B construction.
Can a building be of mixed types of construction?
Yes, it can be of different types of construction if the types are separated by fire walls accordingly i.e. into fire compartments.
However, in no case can different types of construction be above one another.
Design in accordance with all of the relevant codes and standards can be somewhat complex, so please get in touch if we can be of help.