Image Map

Sunday, 23 February 2014

I Don't Trust Buildings Nowadays

Dear friends,

First thing first: my mum and dad both are engineers and they always made my interest in houses grow ever since I was a wee lass. I would hear them talking about buildings and roads and railways and roads, houses and apartments in blocks of flats, and assesing which one is better/more stable/more durable. Almost all my mothers friends would ask for her advice when buying a new apartment - she has a trained eye for spotting mistakes/flaws inside and outside an apartment/house. I learned quickly which buildings are better and what were the places to hide in case of earthquakes.
Now you must know that earthquakes in Romania are pretty frequent - not as frequent or as big as in New Zealand, but still... I remember several earthquakes that were pretty noticeable. The last, biggest and most dangerous/deadly earthquake we had in Romania was in '77 when several thousands of people died under the crumbling buildings.
The 1977 Vrancea Earthquake occurred on Friday, 4 March 1977, 21:20 local time and was felt throughout the Balkans. It had a magnitude of 7.2 with an epicenter in Vrancea (in the Eastern Carpathians) at a depth of 94 kilometers (58 mi). The earthquake killed about 1,578 people (1,424 in Bucharest) in Romania, and wounded more than 11,300. Among the victims was the Romanian actor Toma Caragiu. Nicolae Ceau┼čescu suspended his official trip to Nigeria.
Ienei Church - The AfterMath Of The '77 Earthquake
About 35,000 buildings were damaged, and the total damage was estimated at more than two billion dollars. Most of the damage was concentrated in Romania's capital, Bucharest, where about 33 large buildings collapsed. Most of those buildings were built before World War II, and were not reinforced. After the earthquake, the Romanian government imposed tougher construction standards.
In Bulgaria, the earthquake is known as the Vrancea Earthquake or Svishtov Earthquake. Three blocks of flats in the Bulgarian town of Svishtov (near Zimnicea) collapsed, killing more than 100 people. Many other buildings were damaged, including the Church of the Holy Trinity. In the Soviet Republic of Moldova the earthquake destroyed and damaged many buildings. In the capital Kishinev, a panic broke out. (source)
After that the Regime enacted several laws so buildings would be stronger and lasting longer during theses cases. Of course that lasted somewhere until the '90s when the fall of the Regime - in '89 - and the constant changes, and the constant desire of people to steal and throw away all the decisions, including the good ones, made the building once again not very reliable. I would say that I would not live in a building that was not made between '77 and 2000 - just to be on the safe side!
30 June 2011 - Picture taken with Nokia E51
The picture above was one of the first pictures I took in Krakow, when I came for the 10 day visit - even before thinking of establishing myself here. In 2011, on the 30th of June, I was looking as the second building of the BUMA Square was build - that is the name of the complex of buildings I am currently working in. Right now, on the 16th of February 2014, I am watching as the teams are building Quattro D. The BUMA Square will have 4 towers - Building Quattro A, B, C and D. I am working in A, my husband in B, and both A and B are now fully occupied. I think, from what I can see, looking at the window - that overlooks the inner court - that Quattro C is at least half way full. D is not yet functional but it is already overlooking all the other 3 - they are working on the windows now and I bet they will have some time to spend on the interiors ;) Building C and D were build in less than a year and by looking at them I feel that they are strong and tall and powerful. But that is a lie! I can see the cracks and I thank God everyday that Poland is a country without earthquakes. They have floods but the area is not dangerous so I do not panic. But if I would place these buildings in Romania, I would not go anywhere near them as during an earthquake they would fall like dominos... All the glass would go out in a bang and the stairs would fall in a couple of minutes...
I like though the block I am living in - it is pretty old but not ancient, the systems are running perfectly fine, it has only 4 floors and it looks sturdy and stable :) My kind! And if I would choose a new place I would not go for the fresh stuff on the market as on a new apartment you need around 5 years to see if the systems truly work as they should, and I think I would not be in any mood of redecoration after a few years of just settling in... Just saying! :)

P.S. Dear friends, please stay sharp and look around when buying a new house/apartment. If you feel something is wrong, or something is not as it should be, just move along! Also make sure you know everything about the country you are living in. As an expat I am happy there are no earthquakes in Poland :) And I really must admit that! One thing though: be sure you are out of a possible flodding area!

Yours truly,
The LadyBug Expat :)