February 14th, 2006


It's a cold, wet and slippery world

Моя статья в новом номере Экзайла (о провалившихся крышах, морозах и прочих напастей нынешней зимы):

On January 28 the roof of a big exhibition hall collapsed in the center of Katowice, a large Polish city. There were almost 500 people inside. Sixty-seven of them died, another 140 were injured. There was reportedly too much snow on the roof. This was the largest civil engineering disaster in Poland in decades - in fact as far as anyone could remember. The hall in Katowice wasn't a leftover from bad old communist times. Instead, it was a very recent construction, from the late 90's. Most Western news reports were in no hurry to emphasize this fact. Huh, snow on the roof in January in the North-Eastern Europe - what a surprise! Surely nobody expected this before. Why can't a design that would be just fine in Southern California (at least before a mudslide would carry it away) be just as good on Baltic shores? Isn't it a globalized world now - same design, same shapes, same logos - all over the five continents?

This roof collapse was the biggest, but not the only one in Europe this winter. Fifteen people died on 2 January when the roof of an ice rink collapsed in the southern German town of Bad Reichenhall amid heavy snow. In the Czech Republic a supermarket's roof gave way, and only by chance was nobody killed. Earlier, in December, 14 people, ten of them children, were killed when a roof collapsed at a swimming pool in the Urals region of Russia. Again, the swimming pool was a relatively recent construction - barely 10 years old. The roof was also heavy with snow...