Choice of Vertical Transportation You Can Have in a Home or Building!

Vertical Transportation Systems

For the successful functioning of a multistory building, we require appropriate horizontal, as well as vertical, circulation of traffic in both: regular use and in emergencies. Thus, due care must be taken when deciding the type of vertical transportation to be used, the number of units needed and their positioning, the arrangement, and design for proper appreciation and recognition of a building design. Vertical transportation basically refers to the various means of travelling between floors in a building.

There are various means of vertical transportation that are used based on the design and purpose of the building and in this article; we will be taking a closer look at them. In order to make this article useful to our loyal readers, we have thoroughly referred to the building standards of different countries like National Building Code[343] in India, ADA Accessibility Guidelines[314] (United States), International Standards, etc. These standards vary in different ranges, but, to make things easier for you; we have made a user-friendly guideline.

There are four main forms of vertical transportation:

01. Stairs

02. Lifts / Elevators

03. Ramps and

04. Escalators

Let’s start our journey of knowledge with the most commonly used means of vertical transportation in a building-stairs.

01. Stairs

Table Of Contents

01. Introduction to Stairs

02. Component of Stairs

03. Types of Stairs

Stairs are probably the oldest and most commonly used means of vertical transportation in a building. Stairs are structure that consists of several steps leading from one floor to another. These are designed mostly for easy and quick access between the floors of a building. Stairs are made of materials like stones, bricks, steel, wood, plain cement concrete, reinforced concrete cement, or composite construction, i.e., through a combination of different materials.

Apart from aesthetics and appearance, stairs should be designed to satisfy all basic functional requirements and be economical. The placement of the stairs should also be designed and planned in such a way that it provides quick access to principal spaces in the building.

Components of Stairs

Stairs are made of several components such as staircase, flight, step, riser etc. Let us take a look at all the components of stairs:

01. Staircase:

A staircase is an enclosure that contains a stairway.

02. Flight:

A flight is a series of steps without any landing or break in their direction. Generally, there should be a restriction of a maximum 12 steps and a minimum of 3 steps in a flight of stairs.

03. Step:

A step comprises a riser and tread which permits an ascending or descending flow from one floor to another.

Components of Steps

04. Riser:

The riser is the vertical member between two treads. The height of a riser should be uniform throughout the flight of stairs, within a user- friendly range of 110 mm – 170 mm (4 inch– 7 inch). The dimensions of riser for residence as per various standards are as mentioned below:

Dimension of RiserNational Building CodeInternational StandardsADA Accessibility Guidelines
Maximum 190 MM110MM – 170MM110MM – 170MM

05. Tread:

A tread is the upper, horizontal part of the step on which we place our feet. The minimum comfortable width of a tread should be 250 mm (11 inch), exclusive of the nosing. Make sure that there are no changes in the level of tread rather than the slope of the tread. The dimensions of tread for residence as per various standards are as mentioned below:

Dimension of TreadNational Building CodeInternational StandardsADA Accessibility Guidelines
Minimum 250 MM without nosingMinimum 279 MMMinimum 279 MM

06. Nosing:

A nosing is the part of a tread that projects outward.

Details of Nosing

07. Baluster:

The baluster is the vertical portion of the staircase that supports the handrail.

08. Handrail:

  • The handrail is a protective bar along the staircase that is meant for holding/support.
  • The position of the handrail must be at a convenient distance above the
  • Handrails should be provided on both sides of a staircase and should continue till the end of a flight.
  • The comfortable height of a handrail should be 900 mm –1000mm (36inch–40inch) from above the nosing to the top of the gripping surface.
  • Handrails must extend horizontally for a minimum of about 300 mm (12 inch) at the top end. The minimum should be equal to the depth of the tread above the landing at the bottom end.

Some of the dimensions regarding handrails as per various standards are as listed below:

Dimension of HandrailNational Building CodeInternational StandardsADA Accessibility Guidelines
1000MM850MM – 950 MM850MM – 950 MM

09. Railing:

The railing is a framework that supports the handrail and serves as a safety barrier for the user. Its height should be 900mm –1000mm (36inch) above the nosing.

10. Newel Post:

The newel post is a vertical post placed at the top and bottom of the flights, whose purpose is to support the handrails.

Components of stairs

11. Stringer:

A stringer is the sloping portion of the staircase that supports the steps. The maximum and minimum pitch should be 40º and 25º, respectively.

12. Soffit:

The soffit is the underside of the stairs.

13. Landing:

The landing is a platform that is provided between two flights of stairs to enable the user to move from one flight moving in one direction to another flight moving in another direction. The width of the landing should, at the very least, be equal to the width of the stairs.

14. Winder:

A winder is a step that is narrow on one end and broad on the other. Winders are used in place of landings or platforms for users to move from one flight of stairs to another. These should be used only when there is a space limitation or when landings cannot be placed for changing the direction of movement. Generally, winders should be avoided and if provided, make sure that they are fixed at the lower end of the flight.

Winder step

15. Run:

The total horizontal length of the stairs, including the landing, is called a run.

16. Headroom:

The minimum clear height from tread to the overhead construction is called the headroom. Basically, this is the space between the structure above the stairs and the stairs itself. During designing and construction, one should provide ample headroom. The dimensions of headroom as per various standards are as mentioned below:

Dimension of HeadroomNational Building CodeInternational StandardsADA Accessibility Guidelines
Minimum 2000MM2032 MM2032 MM

Types of Stairs

Now that we have taken a look at the components of stairs, it’s time to learn about the types of stairs. To understand the types of stairs in a better way, we have classified them as follows:

Case 1: Types of stairs based on their functional requirements

Case 2: Types of stairs based on materials of construction

Case 3: Types of stairs based on modern trends

Case 1: Types of stairs based on functional requirements

Depending on the functional requirement of the stairs, there can be changes in the direction of the staircase. Thus, we classify the stairs based on the change in the direction of the flight as follows:

Straight Stair

Straight Stair

Quarter-Turn-Stair

Quarter Turn Stair

Half Turn Stair

Half Turn Stair

Bifurcated Stair

Bifurcated Stair

Spiral Stair

Spiral Stair

Circular Stair

Circular Stair

Curved Stair

Curved  Stair

Case 2: Types of stairs based on materials used

Stairs can also be classified on the basis of the materials used in their construction. Thus, we have stated below, the classification of stairs based on the materials used:

Concrete Stair

Concrete Stair

Stone Stair

Stone Stair

Brick Stair

Brick Stair

Wooden Stair

Wooden Stair

Metal Stair

Metal Stair

Case 3: Types of stairs based on modern trends

Stairs are sometimes constructed based on particular trends. We have already seen how stairs are classified based on their functionality and the materials used in their construction. Now, let us take a look at the various types of stairs based on the current trends:

Space Saving Stai

Space Saving Stair

Monostringer-Floating-Stair

Monostringer Floating Stair

Floating Stair

Floating Stair

Stair with Storage

Stair with Storage

Modern Suspended Stairs

Modern Suspended Stairs

02. Lifts/Elevators

Table Of Contents

01. Introduction to Lifts

02. Component of Lifts

03. Types of Lifts

An elevator is one of the most desirable inventions and means of vertical transportation in a building. The main purpose of the elevator or lift is to transport goods or persons between floors vertically. A lift is a mechanism which comprises a car or platform which moves vertically across guides provided in the shaft.

Elevators that carry persons are called Passenger Lifts, while those that transport goods/freight and carry persons for loading and unloading are called Goods/Freight Lifts.

Before checking out the standards regarding lifts, let us first take a look at its components.

Components of Lifts

01. Annunciator:

Annunciator

An annunciator is an electric device that indicates the location of the lift, by displaying the floor number. The registration of this signal is through the use of lights. The height of the visual indicators bearing the characters should be at a minimum of 12 mm (½ inch).

02. Buffer:

A buffer is a device used for stopping a descending car or counterweight beyond its bottom terminal.

03. Car Frame:

The car frame is a supporting frame which is attached to the car platform, guide shoes, car safety, hoisting ropes, or sheaves of a plunger in hydraulic lifts.

04. Car Switch:

The car switch is a manual operating device in the car by which an operator controls the elevator.

05. Car:

The car is the load-carrying part of the elevator which includes the car platform, car frame, enclosure, and car door or gate. The different car dimensions and alternative configurations that provide unobstructed wheelchair turning spaces are as follows:

Configuration of a Lift Car

06. Control:

The control is a system that governs the starting, stopping, direction of motion, acceleration, speed, and retardation of the car.

07. Operating Device:

The operating device is one that actuates the control of the lift, e.g., car switch, push-button lever, or any other manual device.

08. Hoistway:

The hoistway is a shaft for travel of one or more lifts. It extends from the bottom of the pit to the underside of the overhead machine room or the roof.

09. Machine:

A machine is a power unit for raising and lowering an elevator car.

10. Pit:

The pit is a portion of the hoistway that is below the lowest landing.

11. Position Indicator:

The position indicator is a device that shows the car location in the hoistway. The height of the character should be a minimum of 12 mm (½ inch).

The position indicator in Lift

12. Hall Signals:

Hall signals indicate the car’s travel direction. These are required at each hoistway.

Hall signals in Lift

13. Call Controls:

It is a visual indication of a call registered or answered. The “UP” button should be located above the “DOWN” button.

14. Travel (Rise):

Travel is the vertical distance between the top and bottom terminal landings.

15. Travelling Cable:

The travelling cable is a cable which contains electrical conductors that provide electrical connections between the car and the fixed outlet in a hoistway.

16. Safety:

The safety is a mechanical device that is connected to the car frame, to stop the car.

Types of Lifts

The different types of lifts used in houses or residential buildings are depicted below:

Passenger Lift

Passenger Lift

Freight Lift

Freight Lift

Car Lift

Car Lift

Dumbwaiter Lift

Dumbwaiter Lift

Wall-mounted Lift

Wall-mounted Lift

Hydraulic Lift

Hydraulic Lift

Stair Lift

Stair Lift

Wheelchair Lift

Wheelchair Lift

03. Ramps

Table Of Contents

01. Introduction to Ramps

02. Component of Ramps

03. Types of Ramps

Ramps are sloping structures that are either straight or curved. We use ramps to connect different levels or floors. These should be used only when the space permits, as it requires ample space. Ramps are primarily used for the transportation of vehicles, physically challenged people, patients in the hospital, and as a fire escape route.

A ramp allows persons to move from one level to another level with reduced effort. However, many ambulant persons with disabilities use steps more efficiently and safely; thus, it is preferable to provide accessibility by both steps and ramps. Generally, ramps are not preferred in residences as it consumes a lot of space. Still, we use ramps for vehicular access in residential apartments where the parking space is provided in the basements or at any level other than the ground level.

Let us first get acquainted with the components of ramps, along with their specification, before moving further.

Components of a Ramp

The different components of ramps and their specifications are listed below:

a) Slope and cross slope:

Slope and cross slope of a ramp
  • The slope of a ramp represents the proportion of vertical rise to the horizontal.
  • The expression of slopes of ramps is in ratio, percentage, or degrees.
  • The maximum ratio of running slope should be 1:12.
  • For a cross slope, the maximum ratio of running slope should be 1:48.

b) The clear width of a ramp:

The clear width of a ramp
  • The clear width of a ramp is the distance between the two handrails on either side of the ramp.
  • The minimum clear width of a ramp is 900 mm (36 inch).

c) Rise:

  • The rise is the height of the ramp from the surface.
  • The maximum rise of a ramp should be 750 mm (30 inch), but there are no limitations in the number of ramps runs.

d) Landings:

i) Level landing:

  • The provision of a level landing at the top and bottom of each run of the ramp is mandatory.
  • The width of the landing should, at the very least, be equal to the width of the ramp.
  • The minimum length should be 1500 mm (60 inch).
Level Landing of a ramp

ii) Intermediate landing:

Intermediate Landing of a ramp
  • The intermediate landing, where the ramp changes its direction, should have a clear width measuring a minimum of 1500 mm (60 inch) and minimum clear length of 1500 mm (60 inch).
  • Handrails should be extended by 300 mm (12 inch) at top and bottom ends of the run.

e) Handrail:

  • Handrails are mandatory on both the sides of the ramp with a minimum 150 mm (6 inch) rise, and they should be continuous during a complete run of the ramp.
Handrail detail of a ramp
  • Basically, including a lower handrail is not mandatory, except for ramps in children’s play areas, but if used along the ramp, the maximum height of the lower handrail should be 700 mm (28 inch).
  • The recommended height of the top handrail ranges between 900mm 1000mm 35inch – 39 inch).

Types of Ramps

Now that we know more about ramps, let’s take a look at some types of ramps. The various classifications of ramps is:

Case 1: Types of ramps based on their configuration

Case 2: Types of ramps based on the materials used

Case 3: Types of ramps based on their type of use

Case 1: Types of ramps based on their configuration

These are the types of ramps based on their functional requirement, availability of spaces, and direction of the run:

Ramp with Straight Run

Ramp with Straight Run

Ramp with 90º change in direction of Run

Ramp with 90º change in direction of Run 

Ramp with 180º change in direction of Run

Ramp with 180º change in direction of Run

Ramp with curved Run

Ramp with curved Run 

Case 2: Types of ramps based on the materials used

Like stairs, ramps can be made out of different materials or a combination of materials. Let’s see the different types of ramps based on the type of material used during construction.

Aluminium Ramp

Aluminium Ramp

Steel Ramp

Steel Ramp

Wood Ramp

Wood Ramp

Concrete Ramp

Concrete Ramp

Case 3: Types of ramps based on their type of use

Ramps can also be classified based on the type of use. Some ramps are for permanent use, whereas some are temporary ramps that are set up at some places or to carry it along while traveling. Here are the different types of ramps based on their use:

Permanent/ Semi permanent Ramp

Permanent/ Semi permanent Ramp

Portable Ramp

Portable Ramp

04. Escalator

Table Of Contents

01. Introduction to Escalator

02. Component of Escalator

03. Types of Escalator

Escalators are a power-driven, inclined (generally at a 30-degree angle) and continuous stairway. The purpose of an escalator is for the transport of passengers between different levels or floors, without them having to move much. These machines have many advantages, like a constant operation without operators, low power consumption, large capacity etc.

Generally, escalators are used in places where the traffic of people is heavy. In a new building, the provision of adequate space for powered stairs is mandatory. There is also a need for proper structural framing to support them.

When selecting escalators as a means of vertical transportation in a building, the number of escalators in units plays a significant role in proper circulation of traffic in a building. We can determine the number of units of an escalator by the number of people transported per hour, which directly depends on parameters such as type of building, traffic flow within the building, peak traffic times, and the level of travel comfort required. Once you know the number of units required, the next step is the selection of a suitable type of escalator to be used in the building. So, let’s now look at the various components of escalators.

Components of Escalators

The major components of escalators, along with the basic guidelines are as stated below:

01. Proper inclination:

The most common inclination, as per guidelines for escalators, is 30º to 35º.

Proper inclination of an Escalators

While the 30º inclinations provides the highest level of comfort to the user, the 35º inclinations is the most cost-effective and also uses less space.

02. Step:

The most commonly used escalators have step widths of 600 mm, 800 m, and 1000 mm. Of these, escalators with a step width of 1000 mm are the most common.

Step of an Escalators

03. Overhead Clearance:

At any point on an escalator, there should be a minimum height clearance of 2.3 mts.

Overhead Clearance of an escalator

04. Truss:

The truss is the structural frame that carries the entire load of the escalator.

05. Tracks:

The track system is located in the truss of an escalator. and its primary purpose is to guide the step chain.

Tracks-in-an-escalator

06. Balustrade:

It is mandatory to have balustrades on both sides of the escalator. These can be 900 mm, 1000 mm, or 1100 mm in height.

07. Handrail:

The handrail is that part of the escalator that serves as a convenient handhold for passengers while they are riding the machine.

08. Landing platforms:

There are two landing platforms for an escalator. One is at the top and the other is at the bottom of the escalator. The major components of landing platforms are the comb plate, comb segments, comb lights, and access covers.

Types of Escalator Installations

The installation of escalators depends on the type of escalator being used. So, let’s see the different types of escalators:

Case 1: Types of escalator based on configuration

Case 2: Types of escalator based on purpose

Case 1: Types of escalator based on configuration

Generally, escalators are installed in pairs. One carries the passengers up and the other takes them down. So, let’s have a look at the types of escalators based on their configuration.

Parallel Escalator

Parallel Escalator

Criss-Cross Escalator

Criss-Cross Escalator

Multi - Parallel Escalator

Multi – Parallel Escalator

Curved Escalator

Curved Escalator

Horizontal Moving Walk Escalator

Horizontal Moving Walk Escalator

Case 2: Types of escalator based on purpose

Escalators can also be classified based on the purpose they are to serve after installation. Here are the different types of escalators based on their purpose:

Step type Escalator

Step type Escalator

Wheelchair-accessible-Escalator

Wheelchair accessible Escalator

Belt type Escalator

Belt type Escalator

Cleat type Escalator

Cleat type Escalator

Spiral Escalator

Spiral Escalator

Levytator

Levytator

With this, we end our article on the various means of vertical transportation in a building.

Conclusion

It is a well known fact that vertical transportation is a crucial element when it comes to the enhanced experience and comfort of the building’s occupants or visitors. Therefore, all the aforementioned pointers must be taken into consideration when designing a building with the appropriate means of vertical transportation.

Image Courtesy: Image 18Image 19Image 20Image 21, Image 22, Image 44, Image 48, Image 49

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