Thursday24 July 2014

Architect of collapsed Dhaka factory says, 'I designed a shopping centre'

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Building was never intended to be filled with industrial machinery

The architect of the Dhaka garment factory that collapsed killing more than 700 people said he was hired to design a shopping centre.

The building was never meant to support the weight of industrial machinery and generators, said Masood Reza, who works for Bangladesh’s Vastukalpa Consultants.

He spoke of his anguish after seeing the disaster on television. An estimated 3,000 people were working in the Rana Plaza, sewing clothes for western brands, when the floors pancaked, killing and trapping hundreds.

Reza accused the building’s owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, of ignoring simple structural engineering. Rana is facing charges of causing death by negligence and violating construction laws.

“When we designed the building, the owner and the developer never told us that the floors will house garment factories,” said Reza.

“Had they told us, the structure and design would have been different and stronger.

“We designed a six-storey building with a semi-basement, shopping malls in the first three floors and the rest for offices. There was no way the building was designed to be extended to nine or 10 floors.”

When cracks appeared in the structure a day before the collapse, it should have been sealed off, he said.

“In our architectural language, we say every structure has a life and the cracks were a desperate message from the building that ‘I can’t take it any more’,” he said.


Readers' comments (4)

  • So many people have to cooperate to let things like this happen. Probably thousands knew first hand that extra floors were added past the design. We say this is horrible but our societies do this kind of thing daily over and over. As I write this ramshackle hot toxic factories are probably adding more people and equipment to exit passageways just to fill more orders for big brands which will proceed to mark the clothes up 20 to 60 fold. This is a true race to the bottom. We have let globalization run its course and it is a monster of greed and corruption. Architects are just one more pawn in this horrid circle of greed and pain.

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  • Alex, as you say, it isn't just one person making a bad decision, it is dozens doing so, an example of a collective failure to take any kind of responsibility, though no doubt those responsible will make it clear no one told them they couldn't do this...

    Frightening thing is it could happen here.

    Consider a D&B project with a contractor only wanting limited involvement from consultants, cutting corners at every opportunity, ignoring designs when it suits them...we can all easily enough find ourselves in such a situation, and resigning from the project (the only option available really if we don't have evidence of wrong doing) won't necessarily change anything.

    Kind of thing that keeps me awake at night.

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  • Seymour Alexander

    It is like messing around with the South Bank, adding all sorts of crap onto buildings that were designed to be more of less what they are today and not imaginary structures in a 1930s doodle of the future.

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  • The 2-mile DBT (deep bore tunnel) soon to begin boring a 60' diameter tunnel under Seattle in unstable watery soils will be a catastrophic failure bringing Historic District buildings down gradually over time and all at once as Seattle sits atop a 40-mile faultline overdue for a big one. Help!

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