20 January 2010

Concrete Solutions

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It’s obvious that many of the buildings that collapsed during the Haitian earthquake were poorly designed or constructed. In Haiti, because there is virtually no lumber for building, structures have been made of concrete blocks, often with inadequately reinforced concrete frames. But to suggest that the country simply be rebuilt to a technically higher standard is to take a shortsighted approach.

Op-Ed Contributors: Eight Ways to Rebuild Haiti (January 17, 2010) An internationally financed rebuilding effort, involving scores of architects and engineers drafted to work with the Haitian authorities, should take a longer view of Haiti’s future, supporting a gradual, profoundly well-thought-out physical transformation. Their work will demand determined physical reinvention and, where appropriate, architectural innovation.

Haiti’s government had already begun considering new planning and building codes. It’s still crucial to finish that job, to establish standards that not only reduce the risk that structures will collapse in hurricanes and earthquakes but also help Haiti build for the future. But this isn’t just a question of better-quality steel and concrete; it’s also about choosing where not to build. Far too many buildings in Haiti have stood on deforested, unstable hillsides, and new building strategies must dovetail with environmental repair schemes.

Furthermore, the urge to rebuild rapidly should be tempered by a thorough examination of new designs for safer, more energy-efficient and less expensive structures. (Keep in mind that the cost of construction relative to income in Haiti is at least five times greater than it is in the United States.) For architects and engineers from Haiti and overseas, that’s a huge responsibility.

In few places can the usually glib phrase “design for life” have greater meaning. Now, for the most awful and imperative reason imaginable, Haiti’s government and its international supporters have the opportunity to turn stark devastation into the beginning of a new standard of living.

John McAslan is an architect.


Lis. said...

Hi Adelle.

Fico triste com qualquer calamidade que ocorre em qualquer canto deste vasto mundo afora...

Entretanto, agradeço à Deus todos os dias por viver no Brasil, um país abençoado e que foi poupado de tantas calamidades que acometeram diversos outros países.

Dizem que Deus é brasileiro (smile).

Lis. said...

É interessante perceber que a expressão: Deus é brasileiro dá-se pelas enormes bençãos que essa terra nos dá. Nunca houve calamidades como temos visto em outros cantos pelo mundo afora.

Eu até acredito que quando o povo de Israel recebeu a promessa de Deus da terra que jorra leite e mel, Deus referia-se a terra brasileira.

Veja bem: Eu moro num lugar cheio de areia, em beira de praia, e aqui tem cana plantada, limão maracujá, pitanga, côco, e tantas outras coisas bem no meio da rua. É só esticar a mão e pegar.

Não é demais?


Muito bom Adelle*
Amei. Poucos dos nossos fizeram este gesto. E houve perdas significativas. Admirável!
Minha querida, o seu português está ótimo.
Clarice é excelente, tanto intensa*
Amor Paz y Luz Isha.
Beijos Renata

MR said...

That will be quite a challenge.

My prayers for those who chose to help.