High-rise in Bilbao


In the early eighties, heavy floods struck Bilbao in the Basque region of Northern Spain, killing many people and destroying the old part of the city. Since then the Casco Viejo (the old district) has been renewed and many modern projects have been built: the underground in 1995, the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum in 1997, the Euskalduna Jauregia in 1998, with many more to come, including the Isozaki Atea Towers.

The Isozaki Atea Towers are one of the most prestigious and innovative buildings projects currently under construction in Bilbao. Arata Isozaki – project architect; renowned for his post modern views, has incorporated similar designs to his past examples; like the MOCA museum in Los Angeles (USA); Team Disney Building in Orlando (USA) and others in Japan.

Atea means Gate in the Basque language, and the project is intended to be the new entrance to Bilbao, with two towers forming the gateway, the first of which will be connected to the nearby Zubizuri Bridge designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava.

The towers were originally designed to have 30 floors each, but plans were revised due to objections from local residents worried about having such tall buildings in an otherwise low-rise neighbourhood. This resulted in a final figure of 22 storeys. Despite this reduction, they will still be the highest buildings in Bilbao and will constitute the highest residential mixed-use buildings project in the Basque Country, having in total 254 residential units divided into five different buildings. In addition 3,753 square metres will be dedicated to retail space and 1,360 square metres for office space. A centre for the elderly is also expected to be built in the future.

With such varied use of the buildings and such a large site to be protected, Gent by Honeywell’s Approved International Partner for Iberia, DDS was chosen to install and commission the fire detection and alarm system. Gent’s Vigilon analogue addressable Fire Detection & Alarm system was selected as the main fire detection system across virtually the entire complex. The Isozaki Tower fire detection and alarm system will comprise five Vigilon 4 loop control panels with each loop capable of controlling up to 200 devices. A mix of S-Quad sensors, having a unique four-in-one sensing technology, plus integral sounder, speech and strobe facilities are being used; all in compliance with the latest relevant EN standards.

The building will benefit from the many advantages brought by the advanced technology incorporated into the system. A key reason for DDS being selected for this project was their capability to install the unique Gent S-Quad sensor technology. DDS first promoted the sensors at the national trade show SICUR in Madrid earlier this year. That trade show generated huge amounts of interest in S-Quad that has resulted in a number of prestigious project wins for DDS.

In this site, the S-Quad sensors will help eliminate false alarms. The S-Quad can clearly identify the difference between particles that cause false alarms and particles created by smoke from a real fire. False alarms are dramatically reduced by the use of a combination of detection techniques within each S-Quad sensor. In a building such as this with sleeping accommodation, the S-Quad can distinguish between smoke and steam caused by showers that have been known to turn people out of their beds in the middle of the night!

In addition to its multi-criteria sensing, the S-Quad device has an integrated sounder that emits both alarms and sophisticated voice messages programmed via the Vigilon panels, allowing multi-lingual instructions to be broadcast in the event of a fire. This generally aids orderly evacuation, and even specifically allows for phased evacuation, which helps avoid panic and confusion by reducing overcrowding in exit stairwells and passages in the event of an alert. Also, when the centre for the elderly is ultimately built, the use of S-Quads with their integral strobes will make it easier for residents to be quickly aware of an alert, even if they are hard of hearing, allowing rapid evacuation in the event of an emergency.

Gent’s partner DDS has also installed a Vigilon fire system and a fully featured voice alarm system in the nearby Guggenheim Museum and is delighted to be involved in the protection of such a unique project in Bilbao.

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