News

Lifts and lobbies - the new hot spots for office buildings

Jennifer Shand Jennifer Shand Australasia Press Office,Sydney
11 June 2020

New modelling released by Arup reveals the importance of detailed planning so more people can safely and efficiently return to work in city office buildings as more businesses progressively reopen when necessary SOPs are observed, while many corporations also ramp up operations by stages.

The modelling focussed on managing lift passenger numbers and queuing, factoring in physical distancing regulations.

“Without good data and planning, there could be potentially unsafe congestion in lobbies or many frustrated people queuing onto the street,” said Arup’s Buildings Leader in Malaysia, Fazidin Faisal.

He said lifts are the bottle neck for accessing commercial buildings and most cannot be structurally reconfigured. Other strategies need to be considered.

Building owners, managers and tenants will need to limit numbers in each building, stagger arrival and exit times, and manage queues. ”

Mohd Fazidin head shot Fazidin Faisal Buildings Leader, Malaysia

Arup prepared a case study of a 30-storey commercial building with 20 lifts and approximately 340 people working on each floor.

With physical distancing, the average lift car will hold only four people instead of the usual 19. Depending on how many people are trying to access the building at the same time, they could be queuing for a long time, leading to lost productivity as well as annoyance.

“The scenario modelling shows that having 50% or even 75% of people coming in on any particular day, and staggering their arrival times, would make a big difference,” Fazidin said.

If 50% of people come to the building on a given day and all arrive at around same time, they will be queuing for more than an hour. However, if they are organised to arrive every 15 minutes, in a designated time slot, space could be provided comfortably in the lobbies and queues could be reduced by 70%. 

Arup’s 3D MassMotion software can provide technical analysis for planning how people can safely enter, queue and move around lobbies.

The before scenario demonstrates a high level of interaction at unsafe distances, demonstrated by pedestrians turning red. The after scenario, which introduces a queuing system through less entrances, leads to a reduction in the number of people inside the lobby.

“Realistically, most workplaces probably cannot accommodate everyone with safe distancing,” Fazidin said. “But without careful planning, there will be issues before people even get to their office floor, which we believe are avoidable.”

He said there are many important considerations such as signage, supervision and cleaning to make operations safe and efficient, while helping feel their building is still welcoming.

More details about lift modelling are available here.