ArchWeek - Haiti Earthquake - Looking for Lessons

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ArchWeek - Haiti Earthquake - Looking for Lessons

Postby Kevin Matthews » Fri Apr 09, 2010 5:12 pm

<i>Discussion related to this <a href="http://www.ArchitectureWeek.com/today.html">ArchitectureWeek</a> story, <a href="http://www.ArchitectureWeek.com/2010/0407/building_1-1.html"><b> Haiti Earthquake - Looking for Lessons</b></a>:</i><br>
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Postby mx2 » Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:06 pm

And, of course, that would just be an initial step, since evolving a building culture takes much more than just a change in the official rules.

Even if legislation isn't enacted, international donors, who are expected to pay for much of the country's reconstruction, may make the stricter rules a sort of de facto code by requiring that new construction they fund meet strong standards in major new construction projects,...


I have been advocating for a three step process, in consideration of the realities of any and all poor nations that have similar problems: 1)require and enforce building construction code minimum requirements for all public and commercial structures, 2) require that all professionals be licensed (this comes with a host of other issues itself), and 3) train local builders on proper construction techniques. The local builders provide 90% of the country's construction and yet are never taught the science of proper construction. To try and impose new rules and regulations will result in two things (as found in Jamaica); 1) corrupt building officials and 2) evasion of building to code or with permits...which circles back to number one.

If it's a matter of life or death, the people will listen and will comply with basics. There is a serious fear of living in concrete structures now in Haiti. The history of architecture in Haiti is interesting in itself but the move to build in concrete was indeed due to hurricanes, but mostly because the previously common practice of building in wood lead to a few catastrophic fires in a few cities. Coupled with "modernism", which was the "style" of the rich elite, people soon began to mimic this perceived safer building method.

One thing is certain however, poverty will dictate what truly endures, regardless of what the "donors" mandate for public buildings. The majority of those who perished horribly in this earthquake were poor people living in badly built concrete structures. I predict you'll simply start seeing more single story wood structures. However, it's unclear how the rest of the construction will be controlled. And I haven't even begun to discuss planning and zoning...

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