Why Buildings Fall Down by Matthys Levy

By Matthys Levy

Even if glossy applied sciences and new fabrics have drastically lowered the variety of structural disasters in ultra-modern international, structures nonetheless crumple. world-renowned structural engineers take us on an enlightening guided journey in the course of the background of architectural and structural mess ups, from precedent days to the current. B/W line drawings.

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Crushing of supporting brickwork or blockwork due to excessive point-loading. Lintol drops at one end. Vertical cracking above end of lintol. Insufficient wall-ties. Lack of restraint on individual leaves of a cavity wall. Bulging of wall exterally and/or internally. Incorrect mortar mix. Inherent weakness in the structural capability of the wall. Disintegration of mortar jointing. Bulging and bowing and/or buckling of walls. WALL MOVEMENT – THE CAUSES INTRODUCTION Reference has already been made in Chapter 2 to movement as a result of failure of, or defects in, the foundations or the sub-soil beneath a building.

Only careful investigation and consideration of all the facts and implications will lead to the correct diagnosis. Often, the only physical evidence of building movement due to foundation failure will be cracking or distortion of the walls. Initial assessment of the defects in the wall will be required, followed by further investigations as the causes are explored and a foundation-related problem becomes suspected. A ‘walk over’ survey of the surrounding area might be undertaken in order to assess local features having implications for the suspected problem, eg topography such as hills and dales, natural and man-made watercourses, excavations, filled areas, ground erosion or instability, surrounding buildings and An obvious problem of structural movement active/recent building works, local place names (eg Bog Lane, but what is the cause?

Monitoring may reveal a variety of conditions – the movement has stabilised and is not getting worse; These cracks (left) first appeared after a long hot summer. The house is built on shrinkable clay which is susceptible to changes in moisture content. Investigation of the building (centre) revealed a shallow foundation under the single storey extension resulting in differential settlement. The cracking is both vertical and horizontal – running along the line of the DPC to behind the rainwater pipe and along the stone cill.

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