Most schools and colleges are multi-level buildings, and particularly in urban areas five or six stories are not uncommon – at the more extreme end of the spectrum, the Brooklyn Technical High School in New York rises to an extraordinary twelve floors. With buildings this tall, lifts become essential for intra-building transport solutions. Not only would it be hopelessly time-consuming for thousands of students to exclusively use stairs (not to mention a crowding risk), but modern educational establishments are under statutory obligations to be accessible to all students, including those with mobility issues which might preclude them from using staircases.
But even though lifts are a necessity in most new constructions, it isn’t always a straightforward job to decide which lift to go for. There are a surprising number of lifts out there, all ostensibly similar and offering near-identical claims about quality and usability. How do you choose the optimum lift for your college or your school?
One extremely important consideration will be space. This is something doubly important when a lift is being retrofitted to an older building, but will also apply for new-builds as well – often architects or designers will not factor in extra space for lifts when designing a new building, meaning that when the building is being outfitted creative solutions will be necessary.
When looking for a compact lift solution, one major consideration will be to minimise the size of the “pit” needed when creating the shaft. This reduces the number of modifications necessary with respect to the rest of the building, whilst still allowing for intensive usage. Axess2’s platform lifts have the lowest pit requirements of any lifts on the market but can also tick all the boxes required for safe usage in an educational context.
Conversely, schools and colleges have much more intensive capacity requirements than other buildings like office blocks. Throughout the day (as opposed to simply in mornings and evenings) there will be large numbers of students moving between floors; that means that it’s cost-effective to opt for lifts which carry the most people, so as to prevent the need to purchase several. Again, Axess2 lifts – though compact – are eminently spacious, able to carry up to 630kg.
Schools and colleges are already heavily-regulated environments, and adding lifts can only complicate matters. It isn’t simply the case that any lift can be used as long as it’s safe and functional; there are stringent requirements on what lifts can be used and where. When considering installation, the main regulatory framework is the European Building Regulations, EN81-41. These specify the allowable dimensions of lifts, the weights they can carry, the angles and speeds they can travel at, and a myriad number of other variables. When considering purchasing lifts for your school or college, be sure to consult these – or even better, take specialist advice from experienced contractors like Axess2.
The regulation doesn’t stop after installation though. Lifts that carry passengers are governed by a set of rules set out in the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 – and whereas the Building Regulations are mostly voluntarily, the Lifting Regulations are on a statutory footing and therefore compliance is mandatory, with breaches being illegal. Again, it’s important to purchase your lift from a supplier with an extensive background in the industry, who can advise you not only on how to discharge your legal obligations but also how to purchase a lift that will require minimal maintenance – this will save you not only time but money as well.
Schools and colleges always pose unique issues when it comes to durability; young people are often highly demanding users of building infrastructure, and (as mentioned before) the patterns of the school day mean that lifts can get much more use in schools than they otherwise would. That’s why it’s important when purchasing to ensure that you’re not relying upon generic advice regarding lifts. Lifts in schools need to be capable of dealing with large volumes of often careless people, and even the possibility of casual vandalism – that means that many “luxury” lifts outfitted in wood or aluminium might be inappropriate. In our experience schools have generally opted for our heavy-duty passenger lifts, which combine efficiency and durability, as well as being easy to repair if things go wrong.
As you can tell, choosing a lift for schools or colleges is not an easy business. There are many technical and practical matters which need to be considered, ideally before your project is even designed. Nonetheless, considering how indispensable – and often legally required – lifts are to modern educational buildings, this isn’t something to be neglected. Get in touch with our team today and see which of our solutions can work best for you. With a wide range and a team of skilled engineers on hand, we’ll be sure to figure out what’s best for your project.