Monday, 6 April 2009

Regulating Disaster

The television has been on for much of the day. The news gets too painful to bear further watching. Towns and cities of the Abruzzo have been razed. Rinascimento buildings in all their beauty are no match for seismic events of this order.

Much of the house in our village in Tuscany is 13th century with walls so thick there is room for steps and seats at the windows. But last time the ground shook here the building swayed and shifted as if they were Japanese screens. All of Italy is at seismic risk but here the risk is elevated enough to require any new building, or any major restructuring to meet earthquake resistance standards. At the ecohouse walls were lined with heavy meshes and liquid concrete blasted them into place. The roof was left looking as higgledy-piggledy as always but inside was not just thermic isolation but structural beams and ties. Then the original wooden beams, some made from whole cypress trees, and cross beams with the old ceiling tiles between were put back. Foundations were dug into the shale-like rock it stood upon and then the floors re-tiled over the heating ducts. Hypocausts I thought knowledgeably to myself, Romans invented them, had them in St Albans. Mr HG just thought how much more this could possibly cost.

They were right. It would come down in a serious earthquake, but it will not collapse on top of the inhabitants, with choking mud and dust and walls returning into their components in seconds. If ever there were a case for rigid state authoritarianism it is in the enforcement of engineering and structural rules for buildings and in where they may be constructed. Perhaps we could have a Ministry of Demolition and Reconstruction for all the buildings that do not conform to the regulations. That would be an economic project to save the world.


Nick Drew said...

looks ghastly

hope you and yours are OK, HG

(wv = tryso)

hatfield girl said...

Thank you ND, just very sad.

Nick Drew said...

you have perhaps read Raedwald, here