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Turnkey Smoke Control at Luxury ‘Embassy Gardens’ Apartments



Project Background

Near the site of the dramatic new American Embassy building at Nine Elms, London, is the high-profile Ballymore development of Embassy Gardens. This mixed-use development will offer a blend of leisure, quality residential and commercial high-rise properties that exude luxury and elegance.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has referred to the development as “the most important regeneration story in London,” and it also features what may well become an iconic London landmark: the glass-bottomed Nine Elms ‘Sky Pool’ linking two of the residential towers (see photograph).

SCS Group’s Building Automation division was appointed to the project by our customer Haydon Mechanical and Electrical, focusing on the smoke control aspect of the building services work. Our selection was down to a strong prior working relationship and a desire on Haydon’s part to work with a reputable specialist that focuses on customer service above all else.

Project title Embassy Gardens
Location London

SCS Group’s Involvement

Phase one of the Embassy Gardens project consisted of six high-end residential tower blocks, facilitating the need for smoke ventilation in accordance with building regulations Approved Document B (and others).

Our smoke control solutions are designed to facilitate the means of escape for residents in the case of a fire, as well as enable fire fighters to more easily navigate to the source of the blaze.

SCS Group’s Solution

A fire-engineered solution from SCS Group saw the design and installation of 11 mechanical smoke shafts across the six blocks. These shafts are equipped with rooftop extract fans to draw smoke away in the instance of a fire, with lobby dampers on each floor shutting (with the exception of the fire floor) to stop spread of smoke. Operation of the rooftop fans and the lobby dampers is entirely automatic in line with our pre-programmed cause and effect protocol, all governed by a network of smoke sensors linked to control panels that were manufactured for the job at SCS Group’s own facility in Bournemouth.

All the smoke control systems are linked via an ASi network, and all head ends across the site are networked over TCP/IP to the central FCC (fire control centre). The smoke shaft systems are double pull, DRME dual reversible mechanical extract) systems, which means smoke extract is handled by two 2m2 shafts per tower – one at either end of the main corridor. In ‘means of escape mode’, one shaft extracts smoke and the other supplies inlet air, clearing smoke from the corridor. Then in fire fighting mode it’s necessary to protect the stairwells so both fans enter extract mode, creating enough extract flow to stop smoke escaping the fire floor into the stairwell. This facilitates safe access to the fire floor for fire fighters

The shaft systems interface with the building’s fire alarm system and also offer natural daily ventilation and corridor cooling.

SCS Group also supplied dampers and damper control systems installed in basement ductwork, to compartmentalise any fire outbreaks there. These systems were located across energy centres, bin stores, bike stores and other areas, plus we were responsible for the smoke and exhaust ventilation systems for two underground car parks.

SCS Group’s approach ensured best value with the minimum of engineering fuss, ensuring a practical and robust solution that can be easily operated/overridden by fire and rescue services should it be called into action.


“I would really struggle to critique SCS Group – they are where we need them to be as a contractor. On-site work is superb, with their guys’ punctuality and communication all deserving praise. We really appreciate the lengths they go to for us.

Darren Lambert, Electrical Operations Manager, Haydon M&E