In my "River of Stones" post I mentioned that the observation for the day was about Chinese building standards. The River of Stones project is all about close observation and I have been closely observing the building project in question for some months. I walk past it four times a day, every day and have marvelled every time (not necessarily in a good way) at the construction work. Let me take you through the process so far in some detail so that you can understand why Earthquakes over here tend to demolish whole cities.
When I arrived in Baiyin what was there was waste ground with a wooden fence around it: what the Americans call a vacant lot, I believe. Soon after work began.
Foundations were sunk to a depth of no more than a couple of feet and a thin concrete base poured.
A frame work of metal rods, each about an inch thick and all rather crooked and rusty was created. Where the support columns and beams were to go they were gathered in groups of about eight or nine.
Wooden frames were erected around the rods and concrete poured in to form those supporting columns.
Temporary wooden floors and ramps were put in and the process repeated to form a second storey. There may be plans for a third storey as rods still stick up from the top.
The large spaces were filled with breeze blocks which all have the appearance of having come from a building demolished somewhere else, and the smaller spaces with bricks of a similar second-hand vintage.
Various ground floor window frames have been inserted with the gaps around them also filled with pre-used bricks.The frames themselves are metal and clearly rusty and have also evidently been recycled from a now defunct building.
They have not yet begun the process on the next floor, but they have started construction on a second building on the site which is currently at the metal framework stage.
Now that might sound like an exaggeration for comic effect but it isn't. It's a fair and accurate description of what I have observed. The whole process looks as if they are intentionally building it already derelict. The structural integrity is, to say the least, poor, and unless they are planning to remove a lot of the structure they have created and replace it with something more substantial and better built, they will have created something that good huff and puff from a big bad wolf would bring tumbling down. The worrying thing will come if they skim the outside to a decent standard of appearance because then I will start to wonder about just how safe my apartment block and my school are.
Not that I haven't already.
The Economist finally comes around
6 hours ago