Thursday, January 14, 2010

In Praise of Codes

Ever since Hammurabi's code, where a builder who builds a faulty building which consequently causes injury or death must thus suffer the same consequence, it is clear that architecture is serious business. Though some may rightly argue that codes today have become a legalistic and bureaucratic nightmare, we see all too painfully what happens when they aren't in place. Ideally, modern building codes should primarily address safe construction practice. In May of 2008, thousands of Chinese children died in an earthquake due to shoddy school construction. History repeats itself, even more so, with the destruction of Hati, seen in this aerial view from Google Earth. Earthquake zones require buildings to be flexible, to shift with the shifting ground, but the Hatian use of concrete block was anything but pliant. Without the ability to flex, the structures instead sheared and tumbled, leaving massive destruction and loss of lives. The lack of firm building codes in a country riddled with political turmoil and poverty is a recipe for disaster.
If you are looking for ways to contribute, the White House has links of interest, or consider making a donation to Doctors Without Borders, who are already on the ground trying to reach the wounded.

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