Engineers Design Buildings for a Purpose
Engineers around the world will design a structure based on the brief given to them by a developer. The basis for any good design is to have a structure that is “fit for the purpose” for which it is intended. Most international building codes, and this includes our South African National Building Regulations, are very specific in terms of requirements. For instance, our National Building Regulations (NBR) state:
“Any building and any structural element or component” must be designed to “provide strength, stability, serviceability and durability”.
It is also vital that buildings are designed so that if the structural system is in any way overloaded they won’t collapse with disastrous consequences.
The Regulations also state that these design requirements shall be “deemed to be satisfied” when buildings are designed in accordance with the relevant Part of SANS 10400, in this case, Structural Design.
Roof Design of Riga Mall
Even though the devastating collapse of the roof at Riga Mall in Latvia on Saturday November 23, 2013 is currently under investigation (as at 24th November) there is some certainty that a roof garden being constructed on the roof of the mall played a significant role.
The engineers who designed the mall roof clearly did not intend for the roof structure to carry the extra weight that was being imposed on it. Tons of soil, concrete pavers and possibly water features, as well as many people walking on the roof, would put tremendous additional strain on a structure that was not engineered to carry such loads.
So why are people surprised it collapsed?