Architects are charged with protecting the public’s health, safety, and well-being. When buildings fail, whether through increased loads, poor design, or natural disasters, that charge also falls to those capable and willing to aid people in need. Firefighters regularly experience architecture’s collapse, often risking life and limb to save occupants and individuals they do not know. Yet firefighters and emergency personnel also have their own buildings they call home, rare typologies where recreational, domestic, and professional activities collide.
Fire stations are innately unique, demanding efficient design solutions that also address resiliency and structured play. They have also become iconic, like the Vitra Fire Station by Zaha Hadid in Germany. Though these facilities are traditionally created as value-engineered, economical boxes, new designs like this are emerging that spatially celebrate firefighters and their unique lifestyles. While usually not civic in nature, modern fire stations are beginning to incorporate public space, embrace surrounding urban fabrics, and establish comprehensive sustainable design strategies.
Increasingly, community and productivity are working in tandem for fire station design. The following projects look at this typology through diverse sites and varying scales. The innovative buildings examine structural systems and local conditions to create inspiring, uplifting spaces. While the projects vary greatly, they all explore new standards of safety, efficiency, and mixed programming in modern fire station design.
Italian studio Pedevilla Architects designed a minimal rose-tinted structure that serves as a fire station for the town of Vierschach in South Tyrol. Built in the remote Pusteria Valley, close to the border of Austria, the building is situated alongside the main road. Realized in light-weight concrete, with a product named LiaPor, the outer shell challenges constructive and static parameters, but deals also with insulation requirements.
The BOCA fire station arises from the need to reduce response times to land and sea emergencies in the southern zone of the metropolitan city of Veracruz-Boca del Río. Starting from the functional requirements of a program where flows and operating times are the basis of design, the architectural scheme takes the idea of the "urban oasis" as a reference within a completely heterogeneous environment due to its scale and use characteristics.
The municipal authority in Houten (Netherlands) commissioned the Samyn and Partners practice to build a small fire station on a site surrounded by lots of green space. The municipality of Houten has a hybrid fire fighting force : four professional firefighters, and around sixty volunteers. The building agenda set a requirement that there should be space to accommodate six fire engines.
In its simplest form, a fire station comprises little more than a dwelling with an oversized garage. At its most complex, it embodies the values of its community and functions as a highly technical machine for emergency response. That understanding, infused with aspects of storytelling and context, inspired this design effort. Presiding over patterned fields and the Cascade mountains, Fire Station 76 serves a community of family farms and nurseries.
The fire station is located at the very center of Guizhou Province, near its main city, Guiyang. The building grows in between two steep trapezoid-shaped picks, 30m high, facing Huayan Road, an important road artery. The building is designed following a trapezoidal shape, clearly visible in its sections, which carries on the shape of the mountain. It gradually grows creating an iconic slope, from which only few elements pump out: the training tower on the north corner and the white central hall.
Tianfu new district is a new urban area. As the first fire station in Tianfu new district, it integrates office, fire control, rescue, training and publicity. It will become a high standard fire station for the future. The new design adopted centralized layout, making different function such as office building, dormitory, dining halls, multi-purpose training facility, and the public visitation gallery into an integrated arrangement as well as creating a circular layout.
The dynamic new 30,000 sq ft Brandon Fire and Emergency Services Building validates the idea that a primarily utilitarian program, which often times results in a prefabricated solution, can become a sophisticated architectural project that contributes to its surrounding community and landscape while still fulfilling its demanding functional requirements and modest budget.
The civic scale of Fire Station 30 marks the transition between the commercial activity of Rainier Avenue and the residential Mt. Baker neighborhood. The scale and material presence of the two‐story building make it an anchor along historic Mt. Baker Boulevard. The highly transparent street façade allows passers‐by to view activity within. At night, the illuminated building becomes a beacon of the Seattle Fire Department’s presence within and commitment to its community.
A rock face is the location of the new volunteer fire brigade of margreid on the wine street. Three big caverns are drilled into the rock and interlinked with a cross cut. A black pigmented concrete wall stands in front of the rock, with the same inclination as the mountain. The three caverns dock on to this concrete wall. The wall is the main architectural element of the fire brigade and at the same time a protection against falling stones.
Located in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood, the new Rescue Company 2 facility is designed as a tool for training, enabling FDNY’s elite force of specialized rescue workers to stage and simulate a wide range of emergency conditions in, on, and around the building. The rescue company is trained to respond to various emergency scenarios, from fire and building collapses to water rescues and scuba operations. During these emergencies, rescuers must often utilize voids in buildings, whether creating them to let heat and smoke out of a structure or locating them as a means of escape.