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Thursday24 July 2014

Libeskind pool ceiling collapses in Bern

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The ceiling of a retail and leisure centre designed by Daniel Libeskind has collapsed for the second time in three years in the Swiss capital of Bern.

Two people were injured and one was treated for shock following the accident, which happened  on April 12  in the swimming pool area of the city’s Westside centre.

The pool was in use when 100sq m of the suspended gypsum board ceiling and insulation fell 10m onto the floor.

Visitor Devad Hrapic, who was at the pool with his daughters Leila, 7, and Inesa, 11, told local newspaper 20 Minuten: “All of a sudden I heard a loud bang. I immediately ran down the steps and looked for my daughter Leila. She was standing a metre away from the debris and was crying loudly. In the debris I heard a man screaming.”

Hrapic and another visitor searched for the trapped man. “We tore apart the remains of the ceiling and helped the man out. His whole body was bleeding, especially his head.”

He added that it was a “miracle” that the incident did not have worse consequences.

Swiss authorities are currently investigating the incident and for the time being the swimming pool remains closed.

Westside chief executive Anton Gaumann said: “The construction was carried out to regulation.”

He added that he had spoken to Libeskind, who said he would wait until the outcome of the investigation to comment.

The £340 million Westside centre was completed in autumn 2008 after a three-year construction period. As well as a swimming pool, sauna and spa it contains a cinema, shopping area, hotel and food court.

Shortly after the opening in 2008, the ceiling of a fast food outlet collapsed, injuring two children.

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Readers' comments (15)

  • today's architects don't have technical knowledge nor responsabilities in places like US or UK. Of course that has a terrible impact in the fees, more split every day (ok, may be not in libeskind case). Perhaps they should ask the engineer, the one paid to make sure that it stands.

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  • zecks_marquise

    I'm sorry but it is the responsiblity of the structural engineer and the relevant specialist sub-contractors to make sure that it is safe. For all we know, Libeskind may have only produced the design concept anyway.

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  • Articles like this need supporting information on who were the Architect of Record, Contractor, Consultants and Engineers, and additionally the systems employed for the ceiling. Otherwise, I becomes irrelevant to discuss what happened, and develop an understanding of lessons learned and ways to avoid future issues like this.

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  • Es necesario conocer que tan detallado fue el proyecto arquitectónico en ese aspecto, cuales fueron las recomendaciones del ingeniero calculista y cuales fueron en realidad las especificaciones que cumplió o no el contratista del cieloraso antes de poder juzgar si el arquitecto es o no responsable..

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  • Agreed Ashley. This is taken completely out of context with no background information just the implication that the architect is at fault. This article should be removed until the full story is known.

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  • David Clegg

    Büro Burckhardt+Partner from Basel may have done the details. The contractor would not say who the ceiling sub-contractor was.

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  • Munter Roe

    De-constructivism, ye wanted it ye got it.

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  • I just read the online forum of Berner Zeitung, the region's leading newspaper. The general consensus among locals seems to be: constructional faults caused by price dumping through - self-evidently - foreign contractors and sub-contractors. Apparently, the building was completed in an amazingly short period of time. Obviously, none of the forum readers has any evidence for that. Just like here …

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  • Why would the ceiling have failed due to the engineers design?

    A suspended ceiling is not structural, it is architectural.

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  • If you look around the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, you will see very poor detailing which suggests to me that those responsible for Libeskind's work were more interested in surface effect, than stable integrated detailing. The above story does not surprise me.

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