The art of building – designing fire protection

“As architects, we are convinced that art and architecture belong together and complement one another. Art perfects the overall work.”

Sabrina Maniglio, Architect from Galli Rudolf Architects

A high-rise residential building was constructed in Zürich-Altstetten and completed in spring of 2022. The 76-meter-tall building is 25 storeys tall and houses 161 apartments as well as commercial and office space and a restaurant area.

Smoke pressure system flaps from PRIORIT were used in the exhaust shaft in the high-rise building’s lift anterooms. Large-format, single-leaf smoke dampers are specially designed to seal off outflow shafts as part of a smoke pressure system.

Large cross-sections offer a free, unimpeded outflow area for flue gases. The closure is smoke proof and offers a fire resistance rating of over 90 minutes. In this project, smoke dampers were installed horizontally in a height of 900 mm x width 1300 mm.

Since the lift anterooms served as a prelude to entering the residences, developers wanted to conceal the technical appearance of the flaps as much as possible. They selected a surface coating with PRIODEK H Paint. The surface, prepared with a primer film, could be painted later on to ensure a wide range of design options.

The smoke dampers served as a canvas for paintings by renowned artist Stefan Steiner as a Percent for Art project. The paint was applied directly to the smoke dampers.

The artist completed another project for Percent for Art by sealing off the dummy holes on the exposed concrete wall with 289 coloured buttons.

Background – Explanation from the architectural firm

“We got the idea to make the smoke pressure flaps colourful because they were highly visible in the very small lift anterooms as a technical element. We do not generally have anything against showing building technology, but we consider the lift anterooms to be a “vestibule” for the apartments, since they are used to access a maximum of 2-4 residences per floor. Therefore, we wanted to make these spaces as inviting as possible.

When designing the surfaces for the rooms, we wanted to cover the raw panels as a first step. Even the position and shape of the technical equipment, however, gave the impression of a picture. We had the idea to combine technology, art, and architecture relatively quickly, so we asked artist Stefan Steiner to help us give these “vestibules” a unique character.

The custom pictures give residents a feeling of identity and belonging. This also helped us push back against the preconception of high-rise buildings as being anonymous. Generally, you take the lift directly to your apartment in a high-rise building. This means stairwells lose their social function as meeting places. With Percent for Art – placing a custom picture on each floor – we can spark curiosity to see what the pictures on different floors look like, increasing the chance of neighbours meeting one another.”

(Sabrina Maniglio from Galli Rudolf Architects AG ETH BSA)

Project data
Project location:Zürich
Building:High-rise residential building
Year of construction:2022
Product:PRIODOOR ETX RDA H smoke dampers – horizontal installation
Material:Non-combustible panel with surface coating, classification A2 – s1, d0
Fire-resistance rating:90 minutes
Protective target:Smoke control in lift anterooms
Architect:Galli Rudolf Architekten AG ETH BSA
Artist:Stefan Steiner, cologne
Photos:Ralph Feiner

Project title for the colour design from artist Stefan Steiner:

  • 24-colour, neighbourly: designing smoke dampers over 24 floors
  • Eyelids: 289 coloured buttons in the entryway area and lift anteroom on the GF
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Reference report “High-rise residential building in Zürich”

PDF | Stand: 08/2022 | ca. 2,00 MB

Products used

Smoke extraction damper PRIODOOR ETX RDA H

  • For closing openings in exhaust shafts
  • To keep safety stairwells smoke-free
  • Opens automatically in case of fire

Further information


System 42

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