May
10

Would You Live in These Buildings?

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The coastline along the city of Santos, some 80 km from Sao Paulo, in Brazil, offers a strange sight. Like dominoes about to topple, the waterfront is lined by a string of high rise apartments that are unmistakably tilted to one side.

The problem lies in Santos’ soil. Below a seven-meter layer of sand is a 30-40 meter deep bed of slippery clay that doesn’t cope well with the weight of the structures. Until 1968, the local building code had no restrictions whatsoever on the type of foundation that could be used for multistory buildings. Ideally, the foundations of buildings should reach bedrock, which in the region is about 50 meters deep. But these buildings in Santos’ waterfront has foundations that are only 4 or 5 meters (13 to 16 feet) deep. After the leaning in the first building became visible, there was realization that the practice of placing tall buildings on shallow footings could not continue, and a requirement was added to Santos building code to use deep foundation for tall buildings.

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