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Ulster University: Ensuring Safety in a Landmark Regeneration Project

Ulster University Case Study

ulster university
Ulster University - New Belfast Campus. (Photo: Nigel McDowell/Ulster University)

Project Overview

The Ulster University project was a significant part of the largest regeneration initiative in Belfast since 1988. This ambitious undertaking aimed to expand the existing Belfast campus by an impressive 75,000m², creating a landmark building designed to stand for centuries. G.S Stothers Smoke Ventilation Specialists played a critical role in ensuring the safety of the staff and students within this vast and complex structure.

Ulster University Requirements

With the monumental scale of the project, fire safety was of utmost concern to the University of Ulster. They sought a reliable partner capable of installing comprehensive smoke ventilation and fire containment systems to safeguard the building's occupants and meet rigorous safety standards. The challenge was to address the potential spread of smoke and fumes in the event of a fire, particularly in the atriums and staircases, while ensuring safe evacuation routes and clear access for firefighting operations.

Our Solution

G.S Stothers rose to the challenge, taking responsibility for designing and installing a suite of advanced fire protection and smoke ventilation systems within the Ulster University building. The scope of work included the installation of 66 fire curtains, 3 natural atriums, 4 mechanical smoke ventilation systems, 4 stand-alone natural AOVs (Automatic Opening Vents), and a basement mechanical smoke extraction system.

Addressing Atrium Challenges: Atriums are a common design feature in modern buildings, offering aesthetically pleasing open spaces. However, they can pose significant challenges in terms of smoke control during a fire. We meticulously designed a smoke control system to ensure natural smoke-free escape conditions on all occupied levels, minimising the risk of smoke inhalation, injuries, or casualties during evacuation.

Protecting Staircases and Firefighting Access: Firefighters require clear access to the fire scene, and the staircase must be fully protected to allow safe entry and exit. Our design focused on preventing smoke from spreading to the staircase, improving conditions in the firefighting lobby, and creating safe retreat paths for firefighters if needed.

Basement Smoke Extraction: Basements can be particularly hazardous during a fire due to the confined space and potential for smoke and fume buildup. We efficiently implemented a mechanical smoke extraction system for the basements, clearing smoke and fumes to enhance safety and aid evacuation.

Success and Impact

Our expertise and dedication to fire safety were instrumental in the successful implementation of the smoke ventilation and fire containment systems at Ulster University. The installation ensured compliance with safety regulations and provided peace of mind to the university staff and students. By effectively managing smoke and fire in critical areas such as atriums and staircases, we played a vital role in safeguarding lives and property in this landmark regeneration project.


The Ulster University project stands as a testament to the importance of robust fire safety measures in large-scale buildings. G.S Stothers Smoke Ventilation Specialists' commitment to excellence and innovation in smoke ventilation and fire containment systems proved crucial in securing the safety and well-being of the university's occupants. As a leading force in the smoke control industry, we continue to deliver cutting-edge solutions that enhance fire safety in diverse construction projects across the UK and Ireland.

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