Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Old Buildings Built to Last

Old Buildings Built to Last

A House that has Survived


Early work on our house

Our house has seen a number of earthquakes and has survived. Mainly because it has been at least minimally maintained.

Others have not been so lucky. This old building did survive the earthquake, but it has been empty for at least 60 years, and it is slowly being eroded by the wind and rain.

An old house with a disintegrating roof

The Last Earthquake

 In this last, May 2014, earthquake we heard from the gossip being distributed, that about 8 houses were damaged, but most of these were old and abandoned houses. However there is one house on Romeikos Gia Los waterfront that has been cordoned off, with visible cracks running down its stucco.  
A house damaged in the last earthquake

A number of us took this earthquake too lightly, me included. Perhaps it was shock combined with relief that resulted in laughter and tall tales told afterwards. Each person had a story to tell of where they were when it happened. At the taverna the owner told us he knew there was an earthquake when all his hanging lights started swinging. Another neighbour was in the supermarket car-park. He said he thought the cars on either side were bumping and shoving his car.


Relaxing before the quake

We were sitting outside on the terrace with our guests. We thought a large truck was passing but I quickly realized and shouted to them to run out into the garden. Our guest had his phone and was taking a picture of us but I decided that it would not look dramatic enough, so somewhat foolishly I decided to act up.

After the Earthquake
The Lemnos earthquake was about 6.8 and it was a strong quake, but the devastation from quakes depends on the depth, distance and whether they are shaking quakes or jolting ones. Sometimes a strong quake can do very little damage.

 A Different Earthquake

The main church in Christchurch

An old house in Christchurch
The big earthquake in Christchurch three years ago was 6.3 and it did a lot of damage, killing 185 people. That was because the shaking liquefied the ground underpinning buildings causing them to collapse.
From Wikipedia
‘The February 2011 Christchurch earthquake was a powerful natural event that severely damaged New Zealand's second-largest city, killing 185 people. The earthquake was centred 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) west of the port town of  Littleton and 10 kilometres (6 mi) south-east of the centre of Christchurch.’

A number of years ago I visited cousins in Littleton. They wrote that it was not just the main shake that was frightening but the many smaller shocks that came afterwards.

Houses Built on Rock

An Island of Rocks


Here in Lemnos many homes, including ours is built on rock. And the old construction takes into account the need to be as earthquake proof as possible. But once the tiled roofs get into disrepair, and the water gets in, the house is vulnerable. The beams, the wooden floors and the interior plaster work disintegrate. When we arrived this had already happened to our furno building and laundry/well building. And it was beginning in the large house. In 2004 the only really livable rooms were on the ground floor.
Roofs however are the weakest points. Our first job was to repair the roof of our house. 

A building that once housed estate workers - 60 years ago

The walls are still standing but the roof is giving way

Houses Built with Rock

 There is no shortage of rocks to build houses here. Our house has thick stone walls, and though the stone walls are built with mud they have chestnut beams inside them to absorb shock, and are held together with lathes inside. 
One room we have repointed the stone walls. Here you can see the exposed layer of wood.

Modern houses look somewhat similar in style but they are built of cement. They may have a stone façade added, or are given a stucco finish like most of the old houses. And if they are built of stone they have been built on the rock with a cement foundation and layers of cement where the window are place, and another layer to hold up the roofs.

Internals walls being repaired. Notice the internal lathes behind the plaster

                                                         The Rocky Island of Lemnos


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