The blog post “Design for Disasters” points out that earthquakes constitute perhaps the greatest challenge for architects. It also suggests that an advanced concrete technology like flexible concrete might provide part of the solution. It is a sad fact that the regions of the earth that are susceptible to earthquakes include many of the world’s poorest countries. To provide a realistic solution to the hazards of earthquake disasters in these areas, architects need to be concerned about economic realities as well as structural issues.
Because concrete is such a mature technology, it is perhaps as good a starting point as any for examining earthquake-resistant structures. Despite its attractiveness, however, architects need to ask themselves if such technologies are practical in third world countries. People in such countries might not have ready access to advanced construction technologies. Even if they do, such technologies are likely to increase building costs significantly.
To address the problem adequately, architects need to keep such economic constraints in mind. Their designs need to be innovative, and not simply rely on advanced technologies. Perhaps some clever design will permit construction of buildings that are not only safe, but are inexpensive and within the skills of third world peoples.