Message - Re: collapse of bombed buildings: compartmentation

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Posted by  Rog the Dodge on March 28, 2003 at 12:51:41:

In Reply to:  Re: collapse of bombed buildings posted by Richard Haut on March 26, 2003 at 12:05:13:

I've just returned from a complicated three days in Helsinki trying to ship an architectural exhibition from the university at Otamiemi to the university in St Petersburg: but you don't want to hear about my traumas with Russian Customs (come back Catherine, all is forgiven, and you were so nice to Scots architects).

The question of fire protection or lack of it in the WTC, which was the cause of the vast amounts of grey dust produced in the collapse, is serious. Suicide bombers aside, this was a catastrophe waiting to happen. Three layer sheetrock on escape stairs (which some escapees were able to punch through in their desperation) and sprayed vermiculite (which a recent tv documentary alleged was never comprehensively completed above floor 2) seem wholly inadequate to deal with even a relatively localised fire never mind the consequences of a percussive impact, local structural collapse and the explosive nature of aviation fuel. The wonder of it is that the buildings stood for so long after the impacts. I'm sure I've said this here before but Detail, the German magazine, carried a detailed analysis of the impact, fire and collapse. If the design team were culpable, a topic which was raised and exhausted here a year ago, it's for lack of supervision of the design and installation of the basic requirements of any building in the event of fire: structural integrity and compartmentation.

Which brings me to my other thoughts on compartmentation. Western life encourages this schizophrenic view of ourselves: we're motorists, senior citizens, feminists, rappers, train-spotters, 18 to 30, etc. as if our lives are a series of disconnected components into which can retire and figuratively pull up the drawbridge to avoid awkward or uncomfortable qustions, saying, this doesn't concern me because I'm, say, an architect. Richard is right to raise these issues especially as there seems to be no clear end-game in Iraq, or rather, that it's all being made up as the Blair Bush Project stumbles it's way through a political and moral thicket with a hand-held camera and some expensive explosives. The Turks mass on the northern border, Russia (still not quite the busted flush some like to think) deeply opposed and suspicious of the US/UK adventure, growing protest in Muslim nations: these are not propitious times.

Remember the sequence: Muslim extremist groups outraged at their perceptions of American policy in the Middle East resulting in the events of September 11 resulting in the war on terrorism and the axis of evil legitimising the invasion of Afghanistan and the defeat of the Taliban which led to the hunt for Osama Bin Laden which was/is so unsuccesful that it led to the spurious connection of Al Quaeda to Iraq reminding the West that Saddam had repeatedly ignored UN demands (as has Israel) and required he pay the price which became the removal of a head of state (however evil) in another country to the botched humanitarian salvation of the Iraqi people. And so it goes on.

It was reported in Building Design last week that 15 UK architectural practices (un-named) have been approached by the UK Government as likely candidates in the carve-up that wil become the post-bellum reconstruction. You can be damn sure these architects have compartmented their consciences, but it's no reason that the rest of us should.

I'm not usually this angry but I was stuck in Schipol airport for 18 hours due to fog where they played non-stop the CNN coverage of this disastrous war.



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