A condemnation action on a house may result in the demolition and removal of the unsafe structure, but there is usually a hearing and possibly time to make repairs to bring the building back into compliance/make it safe.
Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
Demolition is the tearing-down of buildings and other structures. Demolition contrasts with deconstruction, which involves taking a building apart while carefully preserving valuable elements for re-use.
For small buildings, such as houses, that are only two or three stories high, demolition is a rather simple process. The building is pulled down either manually or mechanically using large hydraulic equipment: elevated work platforms, cranes, excavators or bulldozers. Larger buildings may require the use of a wrecking ball, a heavy weight on a cable that is swung by a crane into the side of the buildings. Wrecking balls are especially effective against masonry, but are less easily controlled and often less efficient than other methods. Newer methods may use rotational hydraulic shears and silenced rock-breakers attached to excavators to cut or break through wood, steel, and concrete. The use of shears is especially common when flame cutting would be dangerous.
The tallest building demolished by nonterrorist methods was the 47-story Singer Building in New York City, which was built in 1908 and torn down in 1967-1968 to be replaced by One Liberty Plaza.
Before any demolition activities, there are many steps that need to take place — including but not limited to performing asbestos abatement, removing hazardous or regulated materials, obtaining necessary permits, submitting necessary notifications, disconnecting utilities, rodent baiting, and development of site-specific safety and work plans.
The typical razing of a building is accomplished as follows:
Hydraulic excavators may be used to topple one- or two-story buildings by an undermining process. The strategy is to undermine the building while controlling the manner and direction in which it falls. The demolition project manager/supervisor will determine where undermining is necessary so that a building is pulled in the desired manner and direction. The walls are typically undermined at a building's base, but this is not always the case if the building design dictates otherwise. Safety and cleanup considerations are also taken into account in determining how the building is undermined and ultimately demolished. Hoe rams are typically used for removing the concrete road deck and piers during bridge demolition, while hydraulic shears are used to remove the bridge's structural steel.
In some cases a crane with a wrecking ball is used to demolish the structure down to a certain manageable height. At that point undermining takes place as described above. However crane mounted demolition balls are rarely used within demolition due to the uncontrollable nature of the swinging ball and the safety implications associated.
High reach demolition excavators are more often used for tall buildings where explosive demolition is not appropriate or possible. Excavators with shear attachments are typically used to dismantle steel structural elements. Hydraulic hammers are often used for concrete structures and concrete processing attachments are used to crush concrete to a manageable size, and to remove reinforcing steel.
To control dust, fire hoses are used to maintain a wet demolition. Hoses may be held by workers, secured in fixed location, or attached to lifts to gain elevation.
Loaders or bulldozers may also be used to demolish a building. They are typically equipped with "rakes" (thick pieces of steel that could be an I-beam or tube) that are used to ram building walls. Skid loaders and loaders will also be used to take materials out and sort steel.
The technique of Vérinage is used in France to weaken and buckle the supports of central floors promoting the collapse of the top part of a building onto the bottom resulting in a rapid, symmetrical, collapse.
The Japanese company Kajima Construction has developed a new method of demolishing buildings which involves using computer-controlled hydraulic jacks to support the bottom floor as the supporting columns are removed. The floor is lowered and this process is repeated for each floor. This technique is safer and more environmentally friendly, and is useful in areas of high population density.
Large buildings, tall chimneys, smokestacks, and increasingly some smaller structures may be destroyed by building implosion using explosives. Imploding a building is very fast — the collapse itself only takes seconds — and an expert can ensure that the building falls into its own footprint, so as not to damage neighboring structures. This is essential for tall structures in dense urban areas.
Any error can be disastrous, however, and some demolitions have failed, severely damaging neighboring structures. The greatest danger is from flying debris which, when improperly prepared for, can kill onlookers.
Even more dangerous is the partial failure of an attempted implosion. When a building fails to collapse completely the structure may be unstable, tilting at a dangerous angle, and filled with un-detonated but still primed explosives, making it difficult for workers to approach safely.
A third danger comes from air overpressure that occurs during the implosion. If the sky is clear, the shock wave, a wave of energy and sound, travels upwards and disperses, but if cloud coverage is low, the shock wave can travel outwards, breaking windows or causing other damage to surrounding buildings.
Stephanie Kegley of CST Environmental described shock waves by saying, "The shock wave is like a water hose. If you put your hand in front of the water as it comes out, it fans to all sides. When cloud coverage is below 1,200 feet, it reacts like the hand in front of the hose. The wave from the shock fans out instead of up toward the sky."
While a controlled implosion is the method that the general public often thinks of when discussing demolition due to its spectacularity, it can be dangerous and is only used as a last resort when other methods are impractical or too costly. The destruction of large buildings has become increasingly common as the massive housing projects of the 1960s and 1970s are being leveled around the world. At 439 feet (134 m) and 2,200,000 square feet (200,000 m2), the J. L. Hudson Department Store and Addition is the tallest steel framed building and largest single structure ever imploded.
It takes several weeks or months to prepare a building for implosion. All items of value, such as copper wiring, are stripped from a building. Some materials must be removed, such as glass that can form deadly projectiles, and insulation that can scatter over a wide area. Non-load bearing partitions and drywall are removed. Selected columns on floors where explosives will be set are drilled and high explosives such as nitroglycerin, TNT or C4 are placed in the holes. Smaller columns and walls are wrapped in detonating cord. The goal is to use as little explosive as possible; only a few floors are rigged with explosives, so that it is safer (fewer explosives) and less costly. The areas with explosives are covered in thick geotextile fabric and fencing to absorb flying debris. Far more time-consuming than the demolition itself is the clean-up of the site, as the debris is loaded into trucks and hauled away.
A new approach to demolition is the deconstruction of a building with the goal of minimizing the amount of materials going to landfills. This "green" approach is applied by removing the materials by type material and segregating them for reuse or recycling. With proper planning this approach has resulted in landfill diversion rates that exceed 90% of an entire building and its contents in some cases. In addition, it also vastly reduces the CO2 emissions of the removing of a building in comparison to demolition.
The development of plant and equipment has allowed for the easier segregation of waste types on site and the reuse within the construction of the replacement building. On site crushers allow the demolished concrete to be reused as type 1 crushed aggregate either as a piling mat for ground stabilization or as aggregate in the mixing of concrete.
Timber waste can be shredded using specialist timber shredders and composted, or used to form manufactured timber boards, such as MDF or Chipboard.
Safety is paramount, a site safety officer is usually assigned to each project to enforce all safety rules and regulations.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (c 37) (abbreviated to "HSWA 1974", "HASWA" or "HASAWA") is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that as of 2011[update] defines the fundamental structure and authority for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare within the United Kingdom.
The Act defines general duties on employers, employees, contractors, suppliers of goods and substances for use at work, persons in control of work premises, and those who manage and maintain them, and persons in general. The Act enables a broad regime of regulation by government ministers through Statutory Instrument which has, in the years since 1974, generated an extensive system of specific provisions for various industries, disciplines and risks. It established a system of public supervision through aids the creation of the Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive, since merged, and bestows extensive enforcement powers, ultimately backed by criminal sanctions extending to unlimited fines and imprisonment for up to two years. Further, the Act provides a critical interface with the law of the European Union on workplace health and safety.
Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity Barbara Castle introduced an Employed Persons (Health and Safety) Bill in 1970 but the debate around the Bill soon generated a belief that it did not address fundamental issues of workplace safety. In the same year, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed into United States federal law. As a result, a committee of inquiry chaired by Lord Robens was established towards the end of Harold Wilson's first government, October 1964 - June 1970. When the Conservative Party came to power following the United Kingdom general election, 1970, they gave Castle's Bill no parliamentary time, preferring to wait for the Robens Report which was published in 1972. Conservative Secretary of State for Employment William Whitelaw introduced a new Bill on 28 January 1974 but Labour were returned to power in the United Kingdom general election, February 1974 and the Bill again lost. The new Labour administration finally secured the passage of a Bill that year.
The Act lays down general principles for the management of health and safety at work, enabling the creation of specific requirements through regulations enacted as Statutory Instruments or through codes of practice. For example, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH), the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work Regulations 1992 and the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 are all Statutory Instruments that lay down detailed requirements. It was also the intention of the Act to rationalise the existing complex and confused system of legislation (section 1(2)).
Since the accession of the UK to the European Union (EU) in 1972, much health and safety regulation has needed to comply with the law of the European Union and Statutory Instruments under the Act have been enacted in order to implement EU directives. In particular, the Act is the principal means of complying with Health and Safety Framework Directive 89/391/EEC on health and safety at work. Further important changes to section 6, duties in respect of articles and substances used at work, were made by the Consumer Protection Act 1987 in order to implement the Product Liability Directive 85/374/EEC.
Section 1 sets out the objectives of the Act as:
As originally enacted, there was a fourth objective:
— but this provision was repealed when control of emissions was brought under a uniform scheme of legislation by the Environmental Protection Act 1990. In general, the other provisions about emissions in the original Act have subsequently been repealed.
Section 2 states that "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his/her employees", and in particular that such a duty extends to:
Section 3 states the duty of all employers and self-employed persons to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable the safety of persons other than employees, for example, contractors, visitors, the general public and clients.
Employers must also prepare and keep under review a safety policy and to bring it to the attention of his employees (s.2(2)). Trade unions may appoint safety representatives and demand safety committees. The representatives have a right to be consulted on safety issues (ss.2(4), (6) and (7)). Since 1996 employers have had a duty to consult all employees on safety matters. No employer may charge an employee for provision of health and safety arrangements (s.9).
The Act does not apply to domestic servants (s.51).
Section 4 defines a duty of occupiers of premises, for example commercial landlords, managers of serviced office accommodation, and also maintenance contractors, towards people who use those premises for work. Those premises, and the means of entry and exit, must be, as far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health.
An "article for use at work" is any (s.53(1)):
Section 6(1) defines the duty of any person who designs, manufactures, imports or supplies any article for use at work to:
A person may rely on testing done by others so long as it is reasonable for him to do so (s.6(6)). A person may rely on a written undertaking by another person to ensure the safety of an item (s.6(8)) Designers and manufacturers must carry out research to identify and eliminate risks, as far as reasonably practicable (s.6(2)). Erectors and installers have responsibilities to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that an article is so erected and installed that it will be safe and without risks to health at all times when it is being set, used, cleaned or maintained by a person at work (s.6(3)).
Section 6 was extended by the Consumer Protection Act 1987 to cover fairground equipment and its use by persons at work and enjoyment by members of the public.
Section 6(4) defines the duty of any person who manufactures, imports or supplies any substance for use at work to:
A person may rely on testing done by another so long as it is reasonable for him to do so (s.6(6)). A person may rely on a written undertaking by another person to ensure the safety of an item (s.6(8)) Manufacturers must carry out research to identify and eliminate risks, as far as reasonably practicable (s.6(5)).
The duties only extend to persons in business or acting by way of trade, even though not for profit, and only to matters within their control (s.6(7)). Persons who import into the UK are not relieved of liability for activities such as design and manufacture that took place outside the UK and over which they had control. Finance companies who supply articles or substances by way of hire purchase or credit agreement have no duties under section 6 (s.6(9))..
Under section 7 all employees have a duty while at work to:
Section 8 requires that "no person shall intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare in pursuance of any of the relevant statutory provisions."
What is reasonably practicable is a question of fact. The Court of Appeal held in 1949 that:
... in every case, it is the risk that has to be weighed against the measures necessary to eliminate the risk. The greater the risk, no doubt, the less will be the weight to be given to the factor of cost.
— Lord Justice Tucker
Reasonably practicable is a narrower term than 'physically possible' and seems to me to imply that a computation must be made by the owner in which the quantum of risk is placed on one scale and the sacrifice involved in the measures necessary for averting the risk (whether in money, time or trouble) is placed in the other, and that, if it be shown that there is a gross disproportion between them - the risk being insignificant in relation to the sacrifice - the defendants discharge the onus on them.
— Lord Justice Asquith
Where a criminal prosecution arises from a breach of duty and the accused's defence is that it would not have been practicable or reasonably practicable to act otherwise, the burden of proof falls on the defendant (s.40). The prosecution have the burden of showing beyond reasonable doubt that certain acts were done or omitted to provide a prima facie case against the accused. Only if the prosecution succeed in this does the defendant have the burden of proving that the alternative was not practicable or reasonable practicable, but only on the balance of probabilities. The Court of Appeal held in 2002 that this requirement was compliant with article 6(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as to presumption of innocence. The Court of Appeal noted that the "reverse burden" applied to purely regulatory breaches, rather than genuine criminal offences potentially punishable by imprisonment. However, the Health and Safety (Offences) Bill 2007, seeks to extend the sentences available for these offences to include imprisonment for two years. The Department for Work and Pensions has expressed the opinion that, should the Bill become law, it will still be compliant with the ECHR as it "strikes a fair balance between the fundamental right of the individual and the general interests of the community".
In 2005, the European Commission challenged the defence as noncompliant with Directive 89/391/EEC, which states that (Art.5(1) and (4)):
"The employer shall have a duty to ensure the safety and health of workers in every aspect related to the work." but that "This Directive shall not restrict the option of Member States to provide for the exclusion or the limitation of employers’ responsibility where occurrences are due to unusual and unforeseeable circumstances, beyond the employers’ control, or to exceptional events, the consequences of which could not have been avoided despite the exercise of all due care."
The Commission argued that the "reasonably practicable" defence was much broader than allowed under the directive but in 2007 the European Court of Justice found for the UK that the defence was in fact compliant.
Section 6(10) was added by the Consumer Protection Act 1987 disapplies duties as to articles and substances used at work where a risk "is shown to be one the occurrence of which could not reasonably be foreseen". This is known as the development risks defence.
Section 10 created two bodies corporate, the Health and Safety Commission and Health and Safety Executive who performed their respective functions on behalf of the Crown (section 10 and Schedule 2). The bodies had wide powers to further their objectives by all means other than borrowing money (ss.11(6), 13). On 1 April 2008, the two bodies merged, the aggregate taking the name Health and Safety Executive.
Before its merger with the HSE, the Commission consisted of a chairman and between six and nine other people, appointed by the appropriate Secretary of State, after consultation (section 10(2)-(4)). The Commission's duties were to (section 11(2)):
The Commission further had to keep the Secretary of State informed of its plans and ensure alignment with the policies of the Secretary of State, giving effect to any directions given to it (section 11(3)). The Secretary of State could give directions to the Commission (section 12). On 1 April 2006, the Commission ceased to have responsibility for railway safety. The Commission could delegate any of its functions to, or otherwise direct, the Executive (section 11(4)) and could direct the Executive to hold a public inquiry or other investigation into any accident (section 14). However, as of 1 April 2008, all its powers and responsibilities were transferred to the Executive.
The Executive consists of a chairman and between 7 and 11 other people, all appointed by the Secretary of State, as of 2008[update], the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Schedule 2). Before the 2008 merger, the Executive had to carry out all functions delegated to it, or otherwise directed by, the Commission and provide the Secretary of State with information and expert advice (section 11(5)). The Executive is responsible for enforcement of the Act and regulations made under it though the Secretary of State may transfer some of the duties to local government (section 18).
The Secretary of State has broad powers to make health and safety regulations (section 15). Breach of regulations can lead to criminal prosecution under section 33. Further, the Health and Safety Executive can issue codes of practice (section 16). Though breach of a code of practice is not in itself a criminal offence it may be evidential towards a criminal breach under the Act (section 17)
Because individual litigation is unlikely, given that employees may find the regulations complex, the Health and Safety Executive enforces the Act. However, the HSE may also delegate its functions to local government under section 18, which allows for a more decentralised and targeted approach to regulation. Any enforcing authority may appoint inspectors with a written document stating their powers. This is as evidence of their authority (section 19). Enforcing authorities may indemnify the inspector against any civil litigation if he has acted in the honest belief that he was within his powers (section 26). Local government bodies who may be enforcing authorities are:
Local government bodies can be enforcing authorities in respect of several workplaces and activities including offices, shops, retail and wholesale distribution, hotel and catering establishments, petrol filling stations, residential care homes and the leisure industry. As of 2008[update], 410 such bodies have responsibility in 1.1 million workplaces. From 1 April 2006 the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) became the enforcing authority for the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and laws made under it, for all health and safety matters relating to the operation of a railway (or tramway).
Under section, inspectors have the following powers:
The Consumer Protection Act 1987 added the power for a customs officer to seize imported goods for up to 48 hours (section 25A). In observance of the principle of a right to silence, answers given to questions that the inspector required a person to answer cannot be used as evidence against him, nor his spouse or civil partner (section 20(7)), neither can the inspector require production of a document protected by legal professional privilege (section 20(8)).
If an inspector is of the opinion that a person (section 21) is currently contravening the Act; or has contravened the Act in the past in circumstances that make it likely that the contravention will continue or be repeated he may serve him with an improvement notice:
Appeal against a notice is within 21 days to an employment tribunal who may appoint one or more assessors to sit with them (s.24).
If an inspector is of the opinion that activities are being carried on, or are likely to be carried on, involving the risk of serious personal injury, he may serve him with a prohibition notice (section 22):
The notice may start immediately or at the end of a specified period (section 22(4). Appeal against a notice is within 21 days to an employment tribunal who may appoint one or more assessors to sit with them (section 24).
Section 33(1) creates 15 criminal offences including breach of a duty under the Act or a regulation, contravention of a notice, or obstructing an inspector. In England and Wales prosecution under the Act could originally only be brought by an inspector or with the permission of the Director of Public Prosecutions but the Environment Agency was also authorised on 1 April 1996 (section 38). All offences under the Act are either summary offences or offences triable either way so inspectors start prosecutions by laying an information before the Magistrates' Court. Inspectors can themselves be authorised to exercise rights of audience before the Magistrates even though not legally qualified (section 39).
If a person, by some act or omission, causes another person to commit the actus reus of an offence under the Act then they too are guilty of an offence, even if the other person was not prosecuted or could not be prosecuted because they were the Crown (section 36). Where an offence is committed by a body corporate with the consent or connivance, or by the neglect, of a director, manager, secretary or a member acting in a managerial capacity, that individual too is guilty of an offence (section 37).
Where a person is convicted under the Act, the court can order that he remedy the state of affairs or can order forfeiture of an item in question (section 42).
There is no civil liability for breach of statutory duty in respect of sections 2 to 8 but there is liability for breach of health and safety regulations unless the regulations themselves provide otherwise (section 47). However, a breach not actionable in itself may be evidential towards a claim for common law negligence. In particular, a criminal conviction may be given in evidence.
The Crown is bound by health and safety regulations and by the Act itself save for (section 48):
— though an employee of the Crown can be criminally liable (s.48(2)). The Act was extended to the police on 1 July 1998 by the Police (Health and Safety) Act 1997 (section 51A). The Secretary of State may, "to the extent that it appears to him requisite or expedient to do so in the interests of the safety of the State or the safe custody of persons lawfully detained" exempt the Crown by Order in Council (section 48(4)). In 1987, the Crown Proceedings Act 1947 was repealed to allow military personnel to sue the Ministry of Defence and bring the Armed Services into line with the Act.
Sections 55 to 60 provide for the continued existence of the Employment Medical Advisory Service in England and Wales. Section 68 is an Henry VIII clause enabling the Secretary of State to amend certain provisions of the Act by Statutory Instrument rather than Act of Parliament.
Sections 61 to 76 originally enabled the HSE to create and amend building regulations and gave them other powers over buildings control and approval. These sections were repealed by the Building Act 1984 which replaced them by a general scheme of building regulations.
The Act originally applied in England and Wales, Scotland (in part) and Northern Ireland (in part) (section 84). Its provisions were re-enacted for Northern Ireland in 1978 with enforcement made the responsibility of the Health and Safety Agency for Northern Ireland. The Agency's name was changed to the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland in 1998.
Section 84(3) allowed the Secretary of State to extend, by Order in Council, the provisions outside England, Wales and Scotland. In 1995, the provisions were extended to offshore installations, wells and pipelines in UK territorial waters, mines extending into territorial waters and certain other engineering activities in territorial waters. Activities on a ship under the direction of its master are excluded.
Reviewing performance of the Act in 2008 Lord Grocott observed:
Between 1974 and 2007, the number of fatal injuries to employees fell by 73 per cent; the number of reported non-fatal injuries fell by 70 per cent. Between 1974 and 2007, the rate of injuries per 100,000 employees fell by a huge 76 per cent, and Britain had the lowest rate of fatal injuries in the European Union in 2003, which is the most recent year for which figures are available. The EU average was 2.5 fatalities per 100,000 workers; the figure in the UK was 1.1.
In the controlled demolition industry, building implosion is the strategic placing of explosive material and timing of its detonation so that a structure collapses on itself in a matter of seconds, minimizing the physical damage to its immediate surroundings. Despite its terminology, building implosion also includes the controlled demolition of other structures, such as bridges, smokestacks, towers, and tunnels.
Building implosion (which reduces to seconds a process which could take months or years to achieve by other methods) typically occurs in urban areas and often involves large landmark structures.
The actual use of the term "implosion" to refer to the destruction of a building is a misnomer. This had been stated of the destruction of 1515 Tower in West Palm Beach, Florida. "What happens is, you use explosive materials in critical structural connections to allow gravity to bring it down."
—Stacy Loizeaux, NOVA, December 1996
The term building implosion can be misleading to laymen: the technique is not a true implosion phenomenon. A true implosion usually involves a difference between internal (lower) and external (higher) pressure, or inward and outward forces, that is so large that the structure collapses inward into itself.][
In contrast, building implosion techniques do not rely on the difference between internal and external pressure to collapse a structure. Instead, the technique weakens or removes critical supports so that the building can no longer withstand the force of gravity and falls under its own weight.][
Numerous small explosives, strategically placed within the structure, are used to catalyze the collapse. Nitroglycerin, dynamite, or other explosives are used to shatter reinforced concrete supports. Linear shaped charges are used to sever steel supports. These explosives are progressively detonated on supports throughout the structure. Then, explosives on the lower floors initiate the controlled collapse.][
A simple structure like a chimney can be prepared for demolition in less than a day. Larger or more complex structures can take up to six months of preparation to remove internal walls and wrap columns with fabric and fencing before firing the explosives.][
As part of the demolition industry, the history of building implosion is tied to the development of explosives technology.][
One of the earliest documented attempts at building implosion was the 1773 razing of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Waterford, Ireland with 150 pounds of gunpowder, a huge amount of explosives at the time. The use of low velocity explosive produced a deafening explosion that instantly reduced the building to rubble.
The late 19th Century saw the erection of—and ultimately the need to demolish—the first skyscrapers, which had more complicated structures allowing greater heights. This led to other considerations in the explosive demolition of buildings, such as worker and spectator safety and limiting collateral damage. Benefiting from the availability of dynamite, a high-velocity explosive based on a stabilized form of nitroglycerine, and borrowing from techniques used in rock-blasting, such as staggered detonation of several small charges, building demolition edged toward efficient building implosion.][
Following World War II, European demolition experts faced with massive reconstruction projects in dense urban areas gathered practical knowledge and experience for bringing down large structures without harming adjacent properties. This led to the emergence of a demolition industry that grew and matured during the latter half of the twentieth century. At the same time, the development of more efficient high-velocity explosives such as RDX and non-electrical firing systems combined to make this a period of time in which the building implosion technique was extensively used.][
Meanwhile, public interest in the spectacle of controlled building explosion also grew. The October 1994 demolition of the Sears Merchandise Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania drew a cheering crowd of 50,000, as well as protesters, bands, and street vendors hawking building implosion memorabilia.][ Evolution in the mastery of controlled demolition led to the world record demolition of the Seattle Kingdome on March 26, 2000.
In 1997, a building implosion in Canberra, Australia experienced disaster. The main building did not fully disintegrate and had to be manually demolished. Far worse, the explosion was not contained on the site and large pieces of debris were projected towards spectators 500 metres away, in a location considered safe for viewing. A twelve-year old girl was killed instantly, and nine others were injured. Large fragments of masonry and metal were found 650 metres from the demolition site.
On October 24, 1998, the J.L. Hudson Department Store and Addition became the tallest, and the largest, building ever imploded.
On December 13, 2009, an unfinished 31-story condominium tower, known as the Ocean Tower, was imploded in South Padre Island, Texas. Construction on the new tower began in 2006, but had been sinking unevenly during construction, halted in 2008, and could not be saved. It is believed to be one of the tallest reinforced concrete structures ever imploded.
Controlled Demolition, Inc.
2010 Canterbury earthquake
Eminent domain (United States, the Philippines), compulsory purchase (United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland), resumption/compulsory acquisition (Australia), or expropriation (South Africa, Canada) is the power to take private property for public use by a state. However, it can be legislatively delegated by the state to municipalities, government subdivisions, or even private persons or corporations when they are authorized to exercise functions of public character.
The property may be taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, economic development. The most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are for government buildings and other facilities, public utilities, highways, and railroads; however, it may also be taken for reasons of public safety, as in the case of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Some jurisdictions require that the condemnor offer to purchase the property before resorting to the use of eminent domain.
The term "eminent domain" was taken from the legal treatise De Jure Belli et Pacis, written by the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius in 1625, which used the term dominium eminens (Latin for supreme lordship) and described the power as follows:
"...The property of subjects is under the eminent domain of the state, so that the state or he who acts for it may use and even alienate and destroy such property, not only in the case of extreme necessity, in which even private persons have a right over the property of others, but for ends of public utility, to which ends those who founded civil society must be supposed to have intended that private ends should give way. But it is to be added that when this is done the state is bound to make good the loss to those who lose their property."
Some U.S. states, use the term appropriation (New York) or expropriation (Louisiana) as synonyms for the exercising of eminent domain powers.
The term "condemnation" is used to describe the formal act of the exercise of the power of eminent domain to transfer title to the property from its private owner to the government. This use of the word should not be confused with its sense of a declaration that property is uninhabitable due to defects. Condemnation via eminent domain indicates the government is taking ownership of the property or some lesser interest in it, such as an easement. After the condemnation action is filed the amount of just compensation is determined in trial. However, in some cases, the property owner challenges the right to take because the proposed taking is not for "public use", or the condemnor is not legislatively authorized to take the subject property, or has not followed the proper substantive or procedural steps as required by law.
The exercise of eminent domain is not limited to real property. Governments may also condemn personal property. Governments can even condemn intangible property such as contract rights, patents, trade secrets, and copyrights. Even the taking of professional sports team's franchise has been held by the California Supreme Court to be within the purview of the "public use" constitutional limitation, although eventually, that taking was not permitted because it was deemed to violate the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The practice of condemnation was transplanted into the American colonies with the common law. In the early years, unimproved land could be taken without compensation; this practice was accepted because land was so abundant that it could be cheaply replaced. When it came time to draft the United States Constitution, differing views on eminent domain were voiced. Thomas Jefferson favored eliminating all remnants of feudalism, and pushed for allodial ownership. James Madison, who wrote the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, had a more moderate view, and struck a compromise that sought to at least protect property rights somewhat by explicitly mandating compensation and using the term "public use" rather than "public purpose," "public interest", or "public benefit".
The Fifth Amendment imposes limitations on the exercise of eminent domain: the taking must be for public use and just compensation must be paid. Some historians have suggested that these limitations on the taking power were inspired by the need to permit the army to secure mounts, fodder and provisions from local ranchers and the perceived need to assure them compensation for such takings. Similarly, soldiers forcibly sought housing in whatever homes were near their military assignments. To address the latter problem, the Third Amendment was enacted in 1791 as part of the US Constitution's Bill of Rights. It provided that the quartering of soldiers on private property could not take place in peacetime without the landowner's consent. It also required that, in wartime, established law had to be followed in housing troops on private property. Presumably, this would mandate "just compensation," a requirement for the exercise of eminent domain in general per the Fifth Amendment. All U.S. states have legislation specifying eminent domain procedures within their respective territories.
The power of governments to take private real or personal property has always existed in the United States, being an inherent attribute of sovereignty. This power reposes in the legislative branch of the government and may not be exercised unless the legislature has authorized its use by statutes that specify who may use it and for what purposes. The legislature may delegate the power to private entities like public utilities or railroads, and even to individuals for the purpose of acquiring access to their landlocked land. Its use was limited by the Takings Clause in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1791, which reads, "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." The Fifth Amendment did not create the national government's right to use the eminent domain power, it simply limited it to public use.
The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently deferred to the right of states to make their own determinations of public use, although the reason why the constitutional term "public use" should not be subject to federal judicial interpretation like other constitutional terms has not been explained. In 1832 the Supreme Court ruled that eminent domain could be used to allow a mill owner to expand his dam and operations by flooding an upstream neighbor. The court opinion stated that a public use does not have to mean public occupation of the land; it can mean a public benefit. In Clark vs. Nash (1905), the Supreme Court acknowledged that different parts of the country have unique circumstances and the definition of public use thus varied with the facts of the case. It ruled a farmer could expand his irrigation ditch across another farmer's land (with compensation), because that farmer was entitled to "the flow of the waters of the said Fort Canyon Creek... and the uses of the said waters... [is] a public use." Here, in recognizing the arid climate and geography of Utah, the Court indicated the farmer not adjacent to the river had as much right as the farmer who was, to access the waters. However, until the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, the limitations on eminent domain specified in the Fifth Amendment applied only to the federal government and not to the states. That view ended in 1896 when in the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad v. Chicago case the court held that the eminent domain provisions of the Fifth Amendment were incorporated in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and thus were now binding on the states, or in other words, when the states take private property they are required to devote it to a public use and compensate the property owner for his loss. This was the beginning of what is now known as the "selective incorporation" doctrine.
An expansive interpretation of eminent domain was reaffirmed in Berman v. Parker (1954), in which the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed an effort by the District of Columbia to take and raze blighted structures, in order to eliminate slums in the Southwest Washington area. After the taking, held the court, the taken and razed land could be transferred to private redevelopers who would construct condominiums, private office buildings and a shopping center. The Supreme Court ruled against the owners of a non-blighted property within the area on the grounds that the project should be judged on its plans as a whole, not on a parcel by parcel basis. In Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff (1984), the Supreme Court approved the use of eminent domain to transfer a land lessor's title to its tenants who owned and occupied homes built on the leased land. The court's justification was to break up a housing oligopoly, and thereby lower or stabilize home prices, although in reality, following the Midkiff decision, home prices on Oahu escalated dramatically, more than doubling within a few years.][
The Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) affirmed the authority of New London, Connecticut, to take non-blighted private property by eminent domain, and then transfer it for a dollar a year to a private developer solely for the purpose of increasing municipal revenues. This 5-4 decision received heavy press coverage and inspired a public outcry criticising eminent domain powers as too broad. In reaction to Kelo, several states enacted or are considering state legislation that would further define and restrict the power of eminent domain. The Supreme Courts of Illinois, Michigan (County of Wayne v. Hathcock ), Ohio (Norwood, Ohio v. Horney ), Oklahoma, and South Carolina have recently ruled to disallow such takings under their state constitutions.
The redevelopment in New London, the subject of the Kelo decision, proved to be a failure and as of 2012 (seven years after the court's decision) nothing has been built on the taken land in spite of the expenditure of over $80 million in public funds. The Pfizer corporation, which owned a $300 million research facility in the area, and would have been the primary beneficiary of the additional development, announced in 2009 that it would close its facility, and did so shortly before the expiration of its 10-year tax abatement agreement with the city. The facility was subsequently purchased in 2010 for just $55 million by General Dynamics Electric Boat.
American libertarians argue that eminent domain is unnecessary. Bruce L. Benson notes that utilities, for instance, have a variety of methods at their disposal, such as option contracts and dummy buyers, to obtain the contiguous parcels of land needed to build pipelines, roads, and so forth. These methods are routinely used to acquire land needed for shopping malls and other large developments. Walter Block argues that the problem of recalcitrant landowners ("holdouts") who refuse reasonable offers for the sale of their land is solved in the long term by the fact that their failure to accumulate wealth through such trades will give them a relative disadvantage in attempting to accumulate more land. Thus, the vast majority of land will tend to fall into the control of those who are willing to make profitable exchanges.
American courts have held that the preferred measure of "just compensation" is "fair market value," i.e., the price that a willing but unpressured buyer would pay a willing but unpressured seller in a voluntary transaction, with both parties fully informed of the property's good and bad features. Also, this approach takes into account the property's highest and best use (i.e., its most profitable use) which is not necessarily its current use or the use mandated by current zoning if there is a reasonable probability of zone change.
This measure of compensation has been severely criticized because it omits from consideration a variety of incidental economic losses that a taking of land inflicts on its owners when they are evicted from their homes and businesses. The most egregious example of such uncompensated losses is provided by the American law that denies any compensation to owners of businesses that are destroyed when land on which they are located is taken, and the business cannot relocate. A small minority of states have provided by statute that at least some business losses are compensable.
Also, attorneys' and appraisers' fees are not recoverable (except in Florida) so the owners of the taken property never recover the full value of the taken land, even if they prevail in the valuation trial, because a part of their recovery must be used to pay their lawyers and appraisers. Some states do provide for limited recovery of such litigation expenses, typically when the owners' recovery substantially exceeds the amount of the condemnor's pretrial offer or the evidence presented by the condemnor at trial by a specified percentage. Also, when a condemnation action is abandoned, the owners are typically entitled (by statute) to be paid reasonable attorneys' and appraisers' fee they had to incur in defending the condemnation action while it was pending.
When payment of compensation is delayed, the owner of the taken land is entitled to receive interest on the award of compensation, that accrues from the time of taking to the time of payment. The interest must be reasonable, so that when prevailing market rates of interest exceed the statutory rate (as in inflationary times), the former have to be used.
The U.S. Supreme Court takes the position that unlike the determination of what is a "public use," the determination of compensation is a judicial, not legislative, function, but legislatures are free to provide for more liberal awards of compensation than the constitutional minimum determined by courts.
In cases of partial takings of land, the owners are entitled to compensation for the taken part, plus severance damages (the diminution of value of what remains of their property after the taking). If the partial taking creates special benefits (i.e., it causes an increase in the value of the remaining land) their value is offset against compensation, with the majority of states allowing such offsets only against severance damages, so in those states, the owner always gets paid for the taken land. When a partial taking causes impairment of access to the remainder land, that gives rise to a contentious issue because courts take the position that diminution in value caused by impaired access is compensable only when the impairment is substantial. Traffic regulations that affect access (one-way streets, median dividers, etc.) are deemed exercises of the police power and are not compensable.
In addition to fee simple titles, all interests in property (easements, leaseholds, etc.) are compensable. The measure of value of a leasehold is the amount by which prevailing comparable rentals in the area exceed the actual contracted-for rent. This amount is known as "bonus value" of a lease. It is calculated over the remaining life of the lease and then reduced to its present value. The measure of compensation for an easement is the difference in the value of the subject land as unencumbered and as encumbered by the easement.
In determining value, zoning and other land-use regulations are considered, but if it appears that there is a reasonable probability of zone change to a higher use, that may be shown and in that case the owner is entitled to an additional increment of value (the extra amount over and above the value under current zoning, that the market would pay now because of the probability of future rezoning).
The appraisal profession recognizes several different methods of calculating value, but courts are largely stuck in the convention of using three valuation approaches: (a) market data analysis or comparable sales value, (b) the capitalization of rentals, and (c) the reproduction-less-depreciation approach under which the cost of reproducing the improvements on the property is estimated and then depreciated to allow for wear and tear and functional or economic obsolescence. The value of the land is then added to the value of the reproduced, depreciated improvements. Some states allow compensation as the cost of reproduction without depreciation, but only in cases where the subject property, though privately owned, performs an important public or charitable function.
The U.S. Supreme Court has indicated (U.S. v. Cors) that it is not its intention to make a "fetish" out of market value as the measure of compensation, and that other approaches may be used when conventional methods do not work, or if applied, would create an injustice (Pewee Coal v. United States). But this appears to be a hortatory, rather than doctrinal statement. These situations, however, are extremely rare.
Studies in several parts of the country (California, Georgia, Minnesota, New York and Utah) have demonstrated that condemning agencies frequently undercompensate property owners, and that those owners who reject the pre-litigation offers and go to court tend to recover substantially higher awards, whether by judges or juries.
When private property is destroyed, stolen, condemned, or disposed of, the owner may receive a payment in property or money in the form of insurance or a condemnation award. If property is compulsorily or involuntarily converted into money (as in eminent domain) the proceeds can be reinvested without payment of capital gains tax provided it is reinvested in property similar or related in service or use to the property so converted, no capital gain shall be recognized.
On June 23, 2006, the first anniversary of the Kelo decision (see above), President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13406 which stated in Section I that the federal government must limit its use of taking private property for "public use" with "just compensation," which is also stated in the constitution, for the "purpose of benefiting the general public." The order limits this use by stating that it may not be used "for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken." However, eminent domain is more often exercised by local and state governments, albeit often with funds obtained from the federal government.
In Canada, expropriation is governed by federal or provincial statutes. Under these statutory regimes, public authorities have the right to acquire private property for public purposes, so long as the acquisition is approved by the appropriate government body. Once property is taken, an owner is entitled to "be made whole" by compensation for: the market value of the expropriated property, injurious affection to the remainder of the property (if any), disturbance damages, business loss, and special difficulty relocating. Owners can advance claims for compensation above that initially provided by the expropriating authority by bringing a claim before the court or an administrative body appointed by the governing legislation.
In many European nations, the European Convention on Human Rights provides protection from appropriation of private property by the state. Article 8 of the Convention provides that "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home, and his correspondence" and prohibits interference with this right by the state, unless the interference is in accordance with law and necessary in the interests of national security, public safety, economic well-being of the country, prevention of disorder or crime, protection of health or morals, or protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This right is expanded by Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Convention, which states that "Every natural person or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions.". Again, this is subject to exceptions where state deprivation of private possessions is in the general or public interest, is in accordance with law, and, in particular, to secure payment of taxes. Settled case-law of ECHR provides that just compensation has to be paid in cases of expropriation.
In France, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen similarly mandates just and preliminary compensation before expropriation; and a Déclaration d'utilité publique is commonly required, to demonstrate a public benefit.
Notably, in 1945, by decree of General Charles de Gaulle based on the untried accusations of collaboration, the Renault company was expropriated from Louis Renault posthumously and nationalised as Régie Nationale des Usines Renault — without compensation.
After his victory in 1066, William the Conqueror seized virtually all land in England. Although he maintained absolute power over the land, he granted fiefs to landholders who served as stewards, paying fees and providing military services. During the Hundred Years War in the 14th century, Edward III used the Crown's right of purveyance for massive expropriations. Chapter 28 of Magna Carta required that immediate cash payment be made for expropriations. As the king's power was broken down in the ensuing centuries, tenants were regarded as holding ownership rights rather than merely possessory rights over their land. In 1427, a statute was passed granting commissioners of sewers in Lincolnshire the power to take land without compensation. After the early 16th century, however, Parliamentary takings of land for roads, bridges, etc. generally did require compensation. The common practice was to pay 10% more than the assessed value. However, as the voting franchise was expanded to include more non-landowners, the bonus was eliminated. In spite of contrary statements found in some American law, in the United Kingdom, compulsory purchase valuation cases were tried to juries well into the 19th century. DeKeyser's Royal Hotel v. The King (1919).
Allodial title is the title to land generally held in fee simple by an individual or group that is sovereign on that land. Thus, in English law, only the monarch holds allodial title. All others are tenants of the sovereign through their feudal vassalages. Sovereigns generally gain allodial title either by grant of another sovereign to such title, or through right of conquest.
In England and Wales, and other jurisdictions that follow the principles of English law, the related term compulsory purchase is used. The landowner is compensated with a price agreed or stipulated by an appropriate person. Where agreement on price cannot be achieved, the value of the taken land is determined by the Lands Tribunal, a court consisting of one barrister and two chartered surveyors. The operative law is a patchwork of statutes and case law. The principal Acts are the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act 1845, the Land Compensation Act 1961, the Compulsory Purchase Act 1965, the Land Compensation Act 1973, the Acquisition of Land Act 1981, part IX of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the Planning and Compensation Act 1991, and the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany states in its Article 14 (3) that "an expropriation is only allowed for the public good" and just compensation must be made. It also provides for the right to have the amount of the compensation checked by a court.
Esproprio, or more formally espropriazione per pubblica utilità (literally "expropriation for public utility") in Italy takes place within the frame of civil law. The law regulating expropriation is the D.P.R. n.327 of 2001, amended by D.Lgs. n.302 of 2002; it supersedes the old expropriation law, the Royal Decree n.2359 of 1865. Also other national and regional laws may apply. The general provisions for the expropriation stem from article 42 of the Italian Constitution and article 834 of the Codice Civile. Expropriation can be total (the whole property is expropriated) or partial; permanent or temporary.
Nazionalizzazione ("nationalization"), instead, is provided for by article 43 of the Constitution; it transfers to governmental authority and property a whole industrial sector, if it is deemed to be a natural or de facto monopoly, and an essential service of public utility. The most famous nationalization in Italy was the 1962 nationalization of the electrical power sector.
In Australia, section 51(xxxi) of the Australian Constitution permits the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws with respect to "the acquisition of property on just terms from any State or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws." This has been construed as meaning that just compensation may not always include monetary or proprietary recompense, rather it is for the court to determine what is just. It may be necessary to imply a need for compensation in the interests of justice, lest the law be invalidated.
Property subject to resumption is not restricted to real estate as authority from the Federal Court has extended the states' power to resume property to any form of physical property.][ For the purposes of section 51(xxxi), money is not property which may be compulsorily acquired.][ A statutory right to sue has been considered "property" under this section.
The Commonwealth must also derive some benefit from the property acquired, that is, the Commonwealth can "only legislate for the acquisition of Property for particular purposes". Accordingly, the power does not extend to allow legislation designed merely to seek to extinguish the previous owner's title. The states and territories' powers of resumption on the other hand are not so limited. The section 43(1) of the Lands Acquisition Act 1998 (NT) grants the Minister the power to acquire land 'for any purpose whatever'. The High Court of Australia interpreted this provision literally, relieving the Territory government of any public purpose limitation on the power. This finding permitted the Territory government to acquire land subject to Native Title, effectively extinguishing the Native Title interest in the land. As noted by Kirby J in dissent and a number of commentators, this represents a missed opportunity to comment on the exceptional nature of powers of resumption exercised in the absence of a public purpose limitation.
The term resumption is a reflection of the fact that, as a matter of Australian law, all land was originally owned by the Crown before it was sold, leased or granted and that, through the act of compulsory acquisition, the Crown is "resuming" possession.
Art. 19, Nº 24, of the Chilean Constitution says in part, "anyone deprived of his property, of the assets affected or any of the essential faculties or powers of ownership, except by virtue of a general or a special law which authorizes expropriation for the public benefit or the national interest, duly qualified by the legislator. The expropriated party may protest the legality of the expropriation action before the ordinary courts of justice and shall, at all times, have the right to indemnification for patrimonial harm actually caused, to be fixed by mutual agreement or by a sentence pronounced by said courts in accordance with the law."
The vast majority of expropriated owners accept the amount of the indemnification, which usually is in line with real estate market values.][
The Constitution originally provided for the right to property under Articles 19 and 31. Article 19 guaranteed to all citizens the right to 'acquire, hold and dispose of property'. Article 31 provided that "No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law." It also provided that compensation would be paid to a person whose property had been 'taken possession of or acquired' for public purposes. In addition, both the state government as well as the union (federal) government were empowered to enact laws for the "acquisition or requisition of property" (Schedule VII, Entry 42, List III). It is this provision that has been interpreted as being the source of the state's 'eminent domain' powers.
The provisions relating to the right to property were changed a number of times. The 44th amendment act of 1978 deleted the right to property from the list of Fundamental Rights. A new article, Article 300-A, was added to the constitution which provided that "no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law". Thus, if a legislature makes a law depriving a person of his property, there would be no obligation on the part of the State to pay anything as compensation. The aggrieved person shall have no right to move the court under Article 32. Thus, the right to property is no longer a fundamental right, though it is still a constitutional right. If the government appears to have acted unfairly, the action can be challenged in a court of law by citizens.
The liberalisation of the economy and the Government's initiative to set up special economic zones have led to many protests by farmers and have opened up a debate on the reinstatement of the fundamental right to private property.
Under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, the government has the power to compulsorily acquire private land at the prevailing market rate for public purposes such as roads, highways, railways, dams, airports, etc.
Many countries recognize eminent domain to a much lesser extent than the English-speaking world or do not recognize it at all. Japan, for instance, has very weak eminent domain powers, as evidenced by the high-profile opposition to the expansion of Narita International Airport, and the disproportionately large amounts of financial inducement given to residents on sites slated for redevelopment in return for their agreement to leave, one well-known recent case being that of Roppongi Hills.
There are other countries such as the People's Republic of China that practice eminent domain whenever it is convenient to make space for new communities and government structures. Singapore practices eminent domain under the Land Acquisitions Act which allows it to carry out its Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme for urban renewal. The Amendments to the Land Titles Act allowed property to be purchased for purposes of urban renewal against an owner sharing a collective title if the majority of the other owners wishes to sell and the minority did not. Thus, eminent domain often invokes concerns of majoritarianism.
Since the 1990s, the Zimbabwean government under Robert Mugabe has seized a great deal of land and homes of mainly white farmers in the course of the land reform movement in Zimbabwe. The government argued that such land reform was necessary to redistribute the land to Zimbabweans dispossessed of their lands during colonialism.
As a controversial issue, compulsory acquisition has been a feature of movies and other pieces of fiction for many years.
Instances of compulsory acquisition in literature and films include The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where first Arthur Dent's home is acquired for the building of a bypass road and then the Earth is acquired (demolished) to make way for a hyperspace bypass; and The Castle, an Australian film, where the Kerrigans' home is sought to be acquired to allow for an airport extension.
In Stephen King's novel Roadwork, published in 1981, the protagonist's house is purchased to make way for a road extension.
Throughout the Tremors franchise, the retreatist Burt Gummer warns his companions about abuse of government power with specific focus on eminent domain.
Ian Anderson's song "Farm on the Freeway", recorded by Jethro Tull on their album Crest of a Knave (1987), is about the seizure of a farm by eminent domain. There is also an amusing British song, popularly rendered by the Clancy Brothers, entitled "They're Movin' Father's Grave to Build a Sewer."
In the song "Here Come the People in Grey" from the album Muswell Hillbillies by The Kinks, the lyrics include the line, "the borough's surveyor has used compulsory purchase to acquire my domain".
The 2010 Canterbury earthquake (also known as the Christchurch earthquake or Darfield earthquake) was a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, which struck the South Island of New Zealand at 4:35 am on local time (16:35 UTC). Aftershocks have continued into 2012, with some causing significant damage themselves. The strongest to date, of magnitude 6.3, occurred on 22 February 2011. Because this was centred very close to Christchurch, it was much more destructive, with 185 people being killed. It was felt from Invercargill to Wellington.
The quake caused widespread damage and several power outages, particularly in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand's second largest city. Two residents were seriously injured, one by a collapsing chimney and a second by flying glass. One person died of a heart attack suffered during the quake, although this could not be directly linked to the earthquake. Mass fatalities were avoided partly due to there being few houses of unreinforced construction, although this was also aided by the quake occurring during the night when most people were off the street.
The earthquake's epicentre was 40 kilometres (25 mi) west of Christchurch, near the town of Darfield. The hypocentre was at a shallow depth of 10 km. A foreshock of roughly magnitude 5.8 hit five seconds before the main quake, and strong aftershocks have been reported, up to magnitude 6.3. The initial quake lasted about 40 seconds, and was felt widely across the South Island, and in the North Island as far north as New Plymouth. As the epicentre was on land away from the coast, no tsunami occurred.
The National Crisis Management Centre in the basement of the Beehive in Wellington was activated, and Civil Defence declared a state of emergency for Christchurch, the Selwyn District, and the Waimakariri District, while Selwyn District, Waimakariri and Timaru activated their emergency operation centres. Initially, a curfew was established for parts of Christchurch Central City from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am in response to the earthquake. The New Zealand Army was deployed to the worst affected areas within Canterbury.
Claims from the earthquake were confirmed at being between $2.75 and $3.5 billion NZD.
In the first eighty years of European settlement in Christchurch (1850–1930), four earthquakes caused significant damage, the last of them centred at Motunau on the North Canterbury coast in 1922.
Modelling conducted for the New Zealand Earthquake Commission (EQC) in 1991 found that earthquakes with a Mercalli intensity of VIII (significant property damage, loss of life possible) could recur on average in the Christchurch area every 55 years. The study also highlighted the dangers of soil liquefaction of the alluvial sediments underlying the city, and the likelihood of significant damage to water, sewer and power supply services.
About 100 faults and fault segments have been recognised around the region, some as close as 20 km to central Christchurch. The closest faults to Christchurch capable of producing powerful earthquakes are found in the Rangiora-Cust area, near Hororata, and near Darfield. However, the 2010 quake occurred on a previously unknown fault. Scientists are investigating whether the main 2010 quake may have actually been two or three almost simultaneous earthquakes.
The main quake occurred as a result of strike-slip faulting within the crust of the Pacific plate, near the eastern foothills of the Southern Alps at the western edge of the Canterbury Plains. The earthquake epicentre is located about 80–90 km (50–56 mi) to the south and east of the current surface expression of the Australia–Pacific plate boundary through the island (the Alpine and Hope Faults). Though removed from the plate boundary itself, the earthquake likely reflects right-lateral motion on one of a number of regional faults related to the overall relative motion of these plates and may be related to the overall southern propagation of the Marlborough Fault System in recent geologic time. The peak ground acceleration measured near Darfield was 1.26g (12.36 m/s2), recorded near Darfield. This was considered by GNS scientists as an "extremely rare seismic recording made near a fault rupture". However, the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake experienced PGA of 2.2 g.
As of 7 August 2012[update], 11,000+ aftershocks of magnitude 2 or more have been recorded, including 26 over 5.0 magnitude, and 2 over 6.0 magnitude. Many have caused further damage to buildings in the central business district, and been felt as far away as Dunedin.
Notable aftershocks in order include:
At least two models for the quake have been put forward by GNS seismologists and geophysicists, who believe the 7.1 Mw quake consisted of three or four separate quakes. Dr John Beavan has a four-fault model consisting of a 6.5 Mw quake on the Charing Cross fault, followed by a 7.0 Mw quake on the Greendale Fault, and a 6.2 Mw quake near Hororota, with a 6.5 Mw quake on the fourth fault, which could run between West Melton, Sandy Knolls and Burnham. Dr Caroline Holden has a three-fault model, consisting of a 6.3 Mw quake of 2 – 4 seconds on the Charing Cross fault, followed by a 6.9 Mw quake lasting 7 – 18 seconds on the Greendale Fault, and an approximately 6.5 Mw quake of 15 – 18 seconds near Hororota, but she too is examining whether a four-fault model would create a better fit for seismograms recorded east of the Greendale fault, near the hypothetical fourth fault.
The Earthquake Commission has published two Geotechnical Land Damage Assessment & Reinstatement Report[s]. The first Stage-1 report was published on 21 October 2010. The report briefly describes the mechanics of the earthquake, underlying geology, residential land damage assessment, reconstruction considerations, land and building reinstatement, and remediation options.
The second Stage-2 report was published on 1 December 2010. It divides the quake-affected areas into three zones, and outlines the remediation plans for these areas.
Most of the damage was in the area surrounding the epicentre, including the city of Christchurch, New Zealand's second-largest urban area with a population of 386,000. Minor damage was reported as far away as Dunedin and Nelson, both around 300–350 kilometres (190–220 mi) from the earthquake's epicentre.
The September 2010 earthquake caused two Christchurch residents to be seriously injured, one by a falling chimney and a second by flying glass, and led to many with less serious injuries. One person died of a heart attack suffered during the quake, but doctors could not determine whether the quake was the cause.
The 22 February 2011 aftershock caused a large number of deaths and casualties, along with significant damage to buildings and infrastructure. Details of this damage is listed in the article on that aftershock.
Total Earthquake Commission (EQC), private insurance and individual costs may reach as high as NZ$4 billion according to the New Zealand Treasury. Another projection of the cost covered by insurance (including EQC) was lower at $2.1 billion to $3.5 billion, but would still rank the quake as the world's fifth most costly to insurers.
The Earthquake Commission covers only domestic residences with private insurance and does not provide cover for businesses. The EQC payout is limited to the first $100,000 plus GST of any individual claim, with any amount above that covered by the insurance company holding the policy. The insurance companies themselves had limited or no exposure, having offloaded most of their risk to reinsurance companies. The EQC has reinsurance of $2.5 billion with a $1.5 billion excess, so its exposure is the first $1.5 billion and any amount after the first $4 billion. It had a total fund prior to this earthquake of approx $6 billion.
For a comparison, the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake cost NZ£7 million, equal to approximately $650 million in 2010 dollars.
Reports of the quake's intensity in Christchurch generally ranged from IV to VIII (moderate to destructive) on the modified Mercalli scale. A strong smell of sulphur was widely reported in Christchurch following the earthquake. Sewers were damaged, and water lines were broken. The water supply at Rolleston, located to the southwest of Christchurch, was contaminated. Power to up to 75 percent of the city was disrupted. Christchurch Hospital was forced to use emergency generators in the immediate aftermath of the quake. About 90% of the electricity in Christchurch had been restored by 6:00pm the day of the earthquake. The repair of electricity was estimated to be more difficult in the rural areas. One building caught fire after its electricity was turned back on, igniting leaking LPG in the building. The fire was quickly extinguished by the Fire Service before it could spread. Damage to buried pipes may have allowed sewage to contaminate the residential water supply. Residents were warned to boil tap water before using it for brushing teeth, drinking, and washing or cooking food. Several cases of gastroenteritis were reported. By 7 September, 28 cases had been observed at the city's welfare centres. The boil water notice for Christchurch and Banks Peninsula was lifted late on 8 September 2010, after more than 500 tests conducted over three days found no contamination.
Christchurch International Airport was closed following the earthquake and flights in and out of it cancelled. It reopened at 1:30 pm, following inspection of the terminals and main runway. All schools and early childhood centres in Christchurch City, Selwyn and Waimakariri Districts were ordered shut until Monday 13 September for health and safety assessments. The city's two universities, the University of Canterbury and Lincoln University, and the Christchurch campus of the University of Otago were also closed until 13 September awaiting health and safety assessments.
Crime in Christchurch decreased eleven percent compared with the previous year following the earthquake, although there were initial reports of looting in the city centre and "known criminals" trying to pass off as council workers to get into the central city cordon area. Police also observed a fifty-three percent jump in the rates of domestic violence following the earthquake. Many more heart attacks than usual were reported in the days following the quake. Usually the heart unit at Christchurch Hospital handles two to three heart attacks a day, but the rate had risen to eight to ten a day since the earthquake. A record number of babies for a Saturday were born at Christchurch Women's Hospital in the twenty-four hours after the quake, with the first baby arriving six minutes after the initial shock. This was at least in part due to outlying birthing centres being closed, pending structural checks, forcing more mothers to deliver at hospitals than was generally the case.
The quake's epicentre was around Darfield, around 40 kilometres (25 mi) from Christchurch. Four metres (13 ft) of sideways movement has been measured between the two sides of the previously unknown fault.
In many towns outside Christchurch, the electrical grid was disrupted, with it taking an estimated two days to fully restore power to those affected. Power outages were reported as far away as Dunedin.
Access was restricted to over 350 homes in the town of Kaiapoi, of which about 100 were deemed unsafe. Some 22 commercial properties were deemed unsafe. According to Ron Keating, Mayor of Waimakariri District, the town "will never be the same again". As noted above, damage to buried pipes may have allowed sewage to contaminate the residential water supply, and residents were warned to boil tap water before using it for brushing teeth, drinking, and washing or cooking food. A boil water notice for most of Selwyn District was lifted on 9 September. E. coli has been found in a water sample from Kaiapoi, and a boil water notice remained in effect for parts of Waimakariri District until 19 September.
A 5 km (3.1 mi) section of rail track was damaged near Kaiapoi and there was lesser track damage at Rolleston and near Belfast. As a precaution, state rail operator KiwiRail shut down the entire South Island rail network after the earthquake, halting some 15 trains. Two locomotives running light (i.e. without any carriages or wagons) came to a stop just 30 metres short of a major buckle in the line. After inspection, services south of Dunedin and north of Kaikoura recommenced at 10:30 am that day. The Main South Line, linking Christchurch with Dunedin, was given the all-clear and reopened, albeit with a 40 km/h speed restriction north of Ashburton, just after 6:00 pm to allow emergency aid, including 300,000 litres (70,000 imp gal; 80,000 US gal) of drinking water, to be railed into Christchurch. By the afternoon of Monday 6 September, the entire South Island rail network had reopened with the exception of the Main North Line between Rangiora and Addington. Freight was shuttled by road between the two points, while the TranzCoastal was replaced with a coach service.
Major bridges on State Highways and the Lyttelton road tunnel were inspected by the New Zealand Transport Agency, and found to be in structurally sound condition. The only major road closure outside Christchurch was a slip in the Rakaia Gorge, blocking State Highway 77. The slip was partially cleared by 4:00 pm to allow a single lane of traffic through the site. Kaiapoi's main road was closed for a few days.
The quake caused damage to historic buildings in Lyttelton, Christchurch's port town, including cracks in a church and the destruction of parts of a hotel. The Akaroa area of Banks Peninsula came through the earthquake relatively unscathed, though there was some damage to the town's war memorial and hospital and some homes were extensively damaged. Duvauchelle Hotel was also seriously affected.
In Oamaru, 225 kilometres southwest of Christchurch, the earthquake caused part of a chimney on the St Kevin's College principal's residence to fall through the house, and caused the clock atop the Waitaki District Council building to stop at 4:36am. The earthquake also caused the Dunedin Town Hall clock and the University of Otago clocktower to stop working in Dunedin, some 350 km away from the quake epicentre.
The earthquake was a wake-up call to many New Zealand residents. Two Dunedin supermarkets sold out of bottled water following the earthquake as people stocked up on emergency supplies.
Major stores across the South Island were affected as their distribution centres in Christchurch were closed. Both The Warehouse and Progressive Enterprises (owners of Countdown), which have their sole South Island distribution centres in Christchurch, had to ship essential products to their South Island stores from the North Island, while Foodstuffs (owners of New World and Pak'n Save) had to ship to all their South Island stores from their Dunedin distribution centre.
Many of the most badly affected structures in both Christchurch and the surrounding districts were older buildings, including several notable landmarks. New Zealand Historic Places Trust board member Anna Crighton said the earthquake had been "unbelievably destructive." The historic homesteads of Hororata and Homebush inland from Christchurch were both extensively damaged, as were Ohinetahi homestead and Godley House on Banks Peninsula. Homebush, located at Glentunnel only 15 kilometres from the earthquake's epicentre, was the historic home of the Deans family, one of the Canterbury Region's pioneer settler families, but was so extensively damaged that it has been described as being "practically in ruins".
The seven-storey Manchester Courts (or MLC Building), located at the busy intersection of Manchester and Hereford Streets, was extensively damaged. It was the tallest commercial building in Christchurch when it was built in 1905–06 for the New Zealand Express Company, and blended 1890s Chicago Skyscraper style with English Edwardian architecture. The building had a Category One Historic Places trust classification, but was deemed unsafe and was one of just two historic CBD buildings the City Council initially proposed for immediate demolition. That decision was reversed hours later when the building's owner proposed to dismantle the building over several weeks. Demolition began on 19 October 2010 and was continuing in late January.
The 1911 Anglican church of St. John in Hororata, five kilometres south of Glentunnel, was extensively damaged when part of its tower collapsed. The port town of Lyttelton's most notable building, the 1876 Timeball station, was also affected by the earthquake, though strengthening work completed in 2005 may have saved it from further damage. In the later Christchurch earthquake in February 2011 the building was severely damaged, and it is planned by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust for it to be dismantled, with the possibility of reconstruction.
The Valley Inn Tavern in Heathcote, built in 1877, survived the initial quake, but had to be torn down after the large 5.1 magnitude aftershock. Lincoln's historic 1883 public house, The Famous Grouse, was also irreparably damaged and was demolished within days of the earthquake.
Many of Christchurch's major landmarks survived intact, including the Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings, the Anglican cathedral, and Christ's College. The Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (Christchurch Basilica) also survived, although it suffered severe structural damage and also had some windows broken. The central city's iconic Christchurch Press building also survived with only minor damage.
Most modern buildings performed as they were designed to do, preserving life rather than keeping the interior in good order. The City Council's own new Civic Building sustained some interior damage, mainly to fixtures and fittings that delayed it being reopened for a week. Others, such as the city's International Antarctic Centre and Christchurch Art Gallery, the latter of which served as the Civil Defence Headquarters during the earthquake aftermath, suffered little or no damage and were able to be used immediately.
Christchurch Arts Centre, housed in the former Canterbury College buildings, was less fortunate, with moderate damage to the Great Hall, the Clocktower, and the Observatory.
The structure of the University of Canterbury's buildings survived the earthquake, but its museum collection of Greek and Roman artefacts (the Logie Memorial Collection) was significantly damaged. Also, as many of the bookshelves in the main library were toppled, with repairs expected to take until Christmas, the University arranged electronic access to many academic publishers databases for students about to sit exams.
The Oxford Terrace Baptist Church, constructed 1881–1882, was extensively damaged. Several other Christchurch area churches also suffered serious damage, including St. Mary's Anglican church in Merivale, St. John's Anglican church in Latimer Square, and the Rugby Street Methodist church.
The city's Repertory Theatre, on Kilmore Street in the central city, was reported to be extensively damaged and may be beyond repair, however the Repertory Theatre website notes "Beneath the rubble the lower façade is intact with not even a broken window. Further into the theatre everything was undisturbed; the auditorium, stage area, fly tower and dressing rooms intact. The historic proscenium undamaged."
Several notable buildings in the Timaru area, 160 kilometres (99 mi) southwest of Christchurch, were also badly affected. A pinnacle on the tower of St Mary's Anglican Church tower fell to the ground, and the recently restored tower itself sustained "significant cracking". The spire of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Temuka was also shifted 10 centimetres (4 in) by the earthquake, leaving it precariously balanced, and the town's historic Royal Hotel was also damaged.
Heritage experts urged building owners not to hastily demolish their buildings. The mayor warned of significant penalties for demolishing buildings without consent, and launched a fund to help repair historic buildings damaged by the quake. The Government allocated NZ$10 million towards restoration of such buildings a few days later.
A feature of the quake was the damage caused by soil liquefaction. This was particularly the case in the riverside areas of Avonside, Dallington, Burwood, Avondale, and Kaiapoi, and in river delta areas near Bexley, Brooklands, Spencerville, Pines Beach, and Kairaki with other areas being affected to a substantially lesser degree or not at all. Damage from liquefaction may have been worsened by the high water table from a wet winter.
Liquefaction can also cause buried pipes to float up to the surface. This has caused problems for the gravity-fed sewer system, which may need to be completely rebuilt in some areas.
While the problem had long been well understood by planners, it is not clear that the public understood it as well, or that it widely influenced development, buying or building decisions. Liquefaction risk at the Pegasus Town site was identified in 2005, so the developers spent approximately $20 million on soil compaction, and the ground there held firm during the quake.
The media have remarked on the lack of casualties, despite the close parallels of the quake to incidents that have had devastating consequences in other countries, such as the 1989 San Francisco Quake, that killed 63 people and was magnitude 7.1 also. The analysis especially compared the Canterbury quake with the 2010 Haiti earthquake, which also occurred in similar proximity to an urban area, also occurred at shallow depth under the surface, and was of very similar strength. Unlike many tens of thousands of deaths in Haiti (with some estimates placing the death toll at one in ten or higher), no deaths directly attributable to the earthquake were reported in New Zealand. This was ascribed to the fact that the quake happened in the early hours of a Saturday morning, when most people were asleep in timber framed homes, and "...there would almost certainly have been many deaths and serious injuries had it happened during a busy time of the day...". Another important factor was building practices which took earthquakes into account, starting after the 1848 Marlborough earthquake and the 1855 Wairarapa earthquake, both of which badly affected Wellington. These led to formal standards after the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake, which have since been progressively updated. By contrast, Haiti's much lower standard codes were poorly enforced and many buildings were made of hand-made non-reinforced concrete, which is extremely vulnerable to seismic damage. Ground shaking in populated areas of Canterbury was also generally less strong than for the Haiti quake.
Christchurch's emergency services managed the early stages of the emergency as the Civil Defence organisation was activated. The St John Ambulance service had sixteen ambulances operational within half an hour of the earthquake and received almost 700 calls within the first 6 hours.
Police promptly arrested a couple of opportunists who had broken into a liquor store shortly after the quake and attempted to take alcohol. Police emphasised this was only an isolated incident. The alleged offenders subsequently appeared in Court on burglary and theft charges in connection with the looting.
A state of emergency was declared for Christchurch at on 4 September, and the city's central business district was closed to the general public. A curfew was put in place from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am for parts of the central business district. The New Zealand Army was deployed to help the police enforce the closure and curfew.
Civil Defence also declared a state of emergency for Selwyn District and Waimakariri District. The National Crisis Management Centre in the basement of the Beehive in Wellington was activated, while Selwyn District, Waimakariri and Timaru activated their emergency operation centres.
A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules plane brought 42 urban search and rescue personnel and three sniffer dogs from the North Island to Christchurch the day of the quake, to help check for people buried in the rubble and determine which buildings are safe to use. There were a large number of police and engineers present in the disaster areas. The New Zealand Army deployed personnel upon the request of the Christchurch mayor. Eighty police officers from Auckland were dispatched to Christchurch to assist with general duties there.
The United Nations has contacted the New Zealand government and offered its assistance, and is being informed and kept up to date about the situation. The United States military offered to send help from Hawaii; local authorities expressed gratitude for the offer, but turn it down saying they had matters under control. The Queen asked the Prime Minister to send her good wishes to the people affected by and helping recover from the quake.
Prime Minister John Key, who was raised in Christchurch, visited the scene of the devastation within hours of the earthquake. Christchurch mayor Bob Parker requested that the Prime Minister order the deployment of the New Zealand Army to keep stability and to assist in searches when possible within Christchurch, and the Prime Minister stated that the Army was on standby. New Zealand's Earthquake Commission, which provides government natural disaster insurance, will be assisting by paying out on claims from residential property owners for damage caused by the earthquake. On 7 September, John Key appointed Cabinet Minister, Leader of the House and MP for the Christchurch electorate of Ilam Gerry Brownlee as the Minister for Earthquake Recovery to oversee the response to the earthquake.
'Welfare centres' were set up with the help of Red Cross, The Salvation Army and St. John Ambulance at Burnside High School, Linwood College and Addington Raceway, where over 244 people slept on the night after the quake. Tankers delivered drinking water to the welfare centres.
A joint mayoral relief fund has been established by Selwyn District Council, Christchurch City Council and Waimakariri District Council, to which the government has initially given NZ$5 million. The Red Cross and Salvation Army have also appealed for donations to fund their own efforts.
Under the National-led Government the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act was drafted and passed to assist reconstruction. The Act permits Government ministers to suspend almost any New Zealand law and attracted criticism from New Zealand and international academics specialising in constitutional law, who claim that it lacks constitutional safeguards and has set a dangerous precedent for future natural disasters.
The response to the earthquake was praised by most citizens with 94% saying that Civil Defence had performed well and 90% saying the City Council had performed well.
The earthquake occurred five weeks to the day before the Christchurch local elections. Following the earthquake, the polls for the mayoral election swung from favourite Jim Anderton to incumbent Bob Parker. Parker went on to win the 9 October election with a majority 53.7% of the vote.
A benefit concert, Band Together, was held on 23 October 2010 at Hagley Park.
The earthquake was reported by local, national and international news media. It made headlines in The Sydney Morning Herald, BBC News, The Guardian, NDTV, Sky News, France 24, CNN, Fox News MSNBC, and the Chilean news agency Pichilemu News, among others.
While the earthquake quickly became the only subject on talkback radio, other early coverage relied on comments from Police and other 24-hour services who were immediately affected and needed to communicate with the media. Because the earthquake occurred early on a Saturday morning, with only overnight staff on duty, it took several hours for some media outlets to give the event full live coverage. So it took until mid-morning for some media outlets to have sufficient stories and staff on duty to allow them to commence continuous live broadcasts. One television producer later observed that if the earthquake had happened just a few hours earlier, or later, they would have had a full studio crew on duty and have been able to go live immediately.
TV One simulcast hourly TVNZ 7 bulletins from 06:00 with details of the disaster, phone reports from Vicki Wilkinson-Baker, and phone interviews with Civil Defence officials. A One News special with a hosted by Miriama Kamo interrupted normal programming from 10:00-18:00 Saturday, an extended 90 minute One News at 6pm was hosted by Simon Dallow in Christchurch and Bernadine Oliver-Kerby in the Auckland studio, Oliver-Kerby hosted hourly updates through the evening, Paul Holmes updated the story on an extended 90 minute Q&A on Sunday morning at 09:00 and Oliver-Kerby hosted a special One News at Midday bulletin on Sunday afternoon.
Radio New Zealand National interrupted some normal programming to broadcast Morning Report Saturday, Midday Report Saturday, Checkpoint Saturday and Morning Report Sunday with interviews and reports of developments.
The Crooked House
Occupancy in building construction and building codes is the use or intended use of a building or part thereof for the shelter or support of persons, animals or property.][ A closely related meaning is the number of units in such a building that are rented or leased, or otherwise in-use. The lack of occupancy in this sense is a vacancy.
It is possible to have multiple occupancies (or building uses) within one building. For instance, one may have a high-rise building, where the lower levels are occupied by retail stores, whereas the upper levels could be residential. Different occupancies within one building are separated by a fire barrier with a defined fire-resistance rating. It is common for a penetration, such as a fire door, to have a fire protection rating lower than the wall fire resistance rating in which it is installed. For example, a two-hour fire separation normally requires fire doors rated at 90-minutes. Also see Template:Building code
For some high challenge occupancies the code requirements for an occupancy separation are more stringent than for other fire-barriers, even with an identical fire-resistance rating. In this case, an occupancy separation with a two-hour fire-resistance rating may not be able to de-rate its closures, such fire doors or firestops. For example, a two-hour rated high challenge fire wall requires 2 hr rated fire doors.
Firestops in occupancy separations are also more likely to be required not only an equal fire protection rating (a fire-resistance rating for closures) but must also provide a temperature rating, such that the components of the firestop systems, including the penetrants, are not permitted to rise in temperature above 140°C (284°F) on average or 180°C (356°F) on any single point, so as to lower the likelihood of auto-ignition on the unexposed side. In this manner, occupancy separations are treated similarly to fire walls, which are structurally stable in case of a fire, limiting fire-induced building collapse.
In this sense, there are two occupancies in most single-family homes: the garage and the living space of the home. Because automobile gasoline or petrol is flammable, an occupancy separation is often required between the two, should there be a vehicle fire. Water heaters and central heating are often placed in this space as well, for their use of natural gas, propane, or other fossil fuels in combustion. This also helps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Occupancy can also refer to the number of units in use, such as hotel rooms, apartment flats, or offices. When a motel is at full (100%) occupancy, a neon sign is often turned on (though the sign often still says at other times). Office buildings and apartments in particular aim for full occupancy, but if too many are built in an area this is often not the case. Completely vacant buildings can also attract crime, and are eventually targeted for redevelopment or at least renovation.
Occupancy can also mean the number of persons using an undivided space, such as a meeting room, ballroom, auditorium, or stadium. As with building codes, fire-protection authorities often set a limit on the number of people that can occupy a space, primarily because they must be able to leave the building through the available number of exits in a reasonable amount of time, without tripping or trampling each other in a panicked stampede, possibly blinded by smoke. The integrity of a structure may also be at stake, because too many people will put excessive weight and other forces, leading in some cases to a collapse.
An occupancy sensor is a device that can tell if someone is in a room, and is often used in home automation and security systems. These are typically more advanced than motion sensors, which can only detect motion.
In transport engineering, occupancy can refer to:
The Crooked House is a public house in South Staffordshire England.
Its name and distinctive appearance are the result of 19th century mining subsidence. One side of the building is now approximately four feet lower than the other.
It stands in an isolated location close to Himley just off the B4176 road between Dudley and Telford, approximately three miles from the nearest town centres of Sedgley and Dudley. Although the entrance to the road leading to it lies within the West Midlands, The Crooked House itself is located just within the South Staffordshire boundary.
The Crooked House was built in 1765 and was originally a farmhouse. It later became a public house called the Siden House, 'siden' meaning 'crooked' in the local Black Country dialect. The building was later named the Glynne Arms after the local landowner.
The building was condemned as unsafe in the 1940s and was scheduled for demolition. It was rescued by Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries who made the structure safe using buttresses and girders so as to retain its lopsided appearance.
The building's leaning walls give rise to some optical illusions as with a gravity hill. These include glasses slowly sliding across 'level' tables and a marble appearing to roll uphill.