Is Lviv ready to build houses with protection rooms?

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«Protection rooms» are planned to be built in Lviv due to the ongoing war demands. However, the city should still address the use of some parking lots or shelters that need to be put in order. Lviv Now asked developers what they say about special rooms in apartments, when they would be able for sale and how it will affect the cost of housing.

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What are «protection rooms»?

On Friday, the city presented recommendations for the construction of safer housing that would withstand shock waves during the war. Developers are advised to build rooms with reinforced security in high-rise apartments, as it’s done in Israel. After today’s shelling of the Lviv region, Deputy Mayor for Urban Development, Liubomyr Zubach, reiterated how important it would be to build such «protection rooms» in Lviv.

«Tonight, there were 2 alarms lasting 2 hours. And it became obvious that the protection rooms we included in the Housing Construction Standards in Lviv last week are a good idea. Not just good, but absolutely necessary, even vital. Few shelters would save from a direct missile hit, but from its fragments or fragments of shells, such protection is effective. And you know: periodic races in the basement at night with a young child is another stress, especially for a child,» – he said.

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The official cites the example of rooms being set up in Israel, where protected areas are called «mammoths.» This is a normal living room, mostly a bedroom, but with massive, up to 30 centimetres thick, reinforced concrete walls, thickened floors, metal airtight doors that can withstand the blast wave, even with an air filter for chemical protection.

The photo shows one of the examples of modern construction in Tel Aviv, Israel. This is a residential building, which has mammoths in each apartment. Authors of the project (Bar Orian Architect Studio). The photo was published by Liubomyr Zubach

Officials of the Lviv City Council offer developers to build such rooms with a minimum area of ​9 square metres.

During the presentation of building recommendations, Lviv Chief Architect, Anton Kolomeytsev, explained to Lviv Now that the new buildings designed according to such recommendations will have two possible shelters – properly equipped parking lots and reinforced rooms.

«If it’s possible to go down to the shelter, it should be done. If there is a direct hit in the house, then being in an underground shelter will save lives. If there is a threat in the middle of the night or one that has not been warned about, the family can sleep in such a room and be safe. It’s much safer than hiding in the bathroom,» – says the architect.

According to him, 70% of the walls in such a room should be based on the building’s foundation, there are also specific requirements for windows and doors. In particular, the windows must have special steel shutters that can cover it. Walls and floors must be made of reinforced concrete.

«We set a minimum security standard. You can use different solutions. Not only reinforced concrete is possible. This standard may be provided by another method of architectural planning or design solution. As for the windows, they must have fire protection, as well as the doors,» – Anton Kolomeytsev explained.

He clarified that these standards are only of a recommendatory nature, but the city council hopes that developers will listen to these decisions.

What do developers say?

Nazarii Berbek, a co-owner of several active construction companies in Lviv, doubts that such «safety rooms» can be built in Lviv, as even metal shutters on windows are quite expensive structures that have no analogues in Ukraine.

It became quite difficult with the building materials during the coronavirus pandemic and after the beginning of the Russian invasion. Finding them became a difficult process, because logistics are disrupted. Therefore, developers are short of materials, in particular, those offered in the recommendations for the windows protection. Such constructions on the windows can also significantly affect the appearance of buildings and architecture.

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Even if the materials might be found, it would seriously affect the cost per square meter of such an apartment, though Nazarii Berbek does not undertake to estimate it exactly. He says that the square meter is becoming more expensive in any case due to shortages of goods and labour problems.

«Such things will lead to higher prices, slower construction and, in the future, possibly a shortage of apartments,» – said Nazarii Berbek.

The developer draws attention to the fact that «protection rooms» can be arranged exclusively within the existing apartment, in particular its bedroom. This can be a designed space, but not additional space. If it was additional or outside the apartment, its implementation would be at zero level. Therefore, it’s necessary to look for the final projection of such rooms within the apartment.

Shelter rooms in Israel

At the same time, the developer believes that in the current conditions, it is more realistic to adapt parking lots for shelters, as they have the necessary requirements: two exits, are scattered on the sides, where you can design food storage, water supply and more.

«We said earlier, and in the fall, that it is necessary to provide such shelters in all houses under construction. I do not see a problem with this. The only thing is that everyone should design and implement it,» – said the developer.

Yurii Martyniuk, the chairman of the Association of Western Ukrainian Developers, emphasizes that today, it’s possible to implement the provisions prescribing more detailed conditions for storage in newly constructed buildings. According to him, the arrangement of parking lots for shelter does not economically increase the cost of housing, but at the same time, provides for fairly simple things – the installation of additional water, sewage, and autonomous heating system.

Yurii Martyniuk believes that the recommendations from City Council officials are more of a PR and brand step. The very idea of ​​improving the safety of new buildings is correct, but the things described in the document are not just raw, but sometimes threaten the continuations of construction processes in Lviv, if developers undertake to implement these recommendations.

According to the deputy, the decision to build more secure housing should be made in the form of consultations and discussions with specialists, experts and participants in the construction industry. However, city officials didn’t meet with construction companies, developers, and made decisions alone.

Yurii Martyniuk says that security zones in apartments should be equipped with special grilles that can withstand the blast wave. «But do officials know in which physical units this blast wave is measured, from which type of weapon it should be protected? If someone thinks that you can weld a piece of fittings and put them on the windows, it’s not so. Because, for instance, in Israel, all these things are high-tech products that are undergoing many tests. Such things are made by specialized firms and companies, but there are none in Ukraine. Today, we have problems with the relocation of enterprises, so starting a new type of business is actually unrealistic,» – says the developer.

After all, this is not a question of bars, says Yuri Martyniuk, because they are not just bars, but a complex element of protection with complex certification.

«Things with a really high level of protection and security against bombing and explosive waves are not produced by anyone in Ukraine, no one knows how it is done, how much it costs, what it looks like, and when it would be real. If we do not even talk about manufacturing in Ukraine, the purchase of building materials, in particular from Israel, is now problematic after the logistics chains were destroyed by the war,» – said Yurii Martyniuk.

Therefore, these recommendations currently contain more populist norms, says the developer, because they cannot be implemented.

«Even simple fittings make the process more expensive, but is it effective? No, it’s just a waste of money. How will this affect the industry, the market, consumers and residents? It is difficult to say that such a decision is positive – it is more trendy than one that will improve the security of housing under construction,» – summed up Yurii Martyniuk.

Khrystyna Hogol, translated by Vitalii Holich

Full or partial publication of the text without the written consent of the editors is prohibited and is considered copyright infringement.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Lviv Now is an English-language website for Lviv, Ukraine’s «tech-friendly cultural hub.» It is produced by Tvoe Misto («Your City») media-hub, which also hosts regular problem-solving public forums to benefit the city and its people.


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