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Civil Engineering Year 2 - Raunaq Mohamed

016445

FAILURE OF CIVIL STRUCTURES


KATOWICE TRADE HALL ROOF COLLAPSE - POLAND
INTRODUCTION
Everything was super and happy in an exhibition held in Poland until disaster struck The 56 th National Exhibition
of Carrier Pigeons held in Katowice Trade Hall on 28 th January 2006 in which the roof of the structure
collapsed. The exhibition was a huge event and hence was hosting over 120 exhibitors from all over Europe.
Polish government confirmed that the incident killed 65 people (including 13 foreigners) and as well over 170
people were left injured.

WHY AND HOW THE ROOF COLLAPSED??


Poland was experiencing extreme cold weather with heavy snow at that period of time. The Roof Structure
was unable to withstand the forces of the bulky heavy snow that got trapped on the roof leading to tragic fail.
The investigation into the disaster also showed that there were numerous design and construction mistakes
that contributed to the extreme failure. The elements of the structure were created in a series system which
collapses when only one of the elements reaches load bearing capacity. Katowice Trade Halls main truss
should have been braced in at least two planes with the vertical roof bracing used for lower and upper roof
parts, which was found to have been not done in this case. Considering the situation of the construction of the
truss system for the building, on the day of disaster, heavy snow got drifted on the lower roof part which made
the vertical load on the main girders lose their symmetricity. The maximum stress was along the main girder
and the main girders chords faced permanent torsional displacements due to high value of torsional moments.
The girder design itself was found to have been at fault since there should have been a movable pin bearing on
one of the sides of the girder which was longer than 30m. This mobility restriction of the ends makes the girder
unfavorable. The columns tops failed due to the improper connections to the framing elements and were not
adequately finished. The Horizontal reactions were too much that it created the bending of the leg, which was
a result of arrested translations of bearings and torque movements. The incorrect field connections were
designed due to extreme internal forces, which meant that any sort of random increase in the load would point
towards the safety on these connections. In this case the increase in the load happened due to bulked up
snow. The structural strength was insufficient, battens were not strong enough and the framing element
connections should have been done properly for the load distribution through the system to be even and able
to withstand. As mentioned earlier, since the structure was a series system, one element failure would cause
major issues in the whole system and this is exactly what lead to disaster on 28th January 2006 in Poland.
Since it was obvious that the instability of the structure was due to the accumulation of heavy snow, further
investigations were conducted to make sure that the construction site was suitable as well. It was found that
underground coal mining in Katowice inside this area made the area unstable and not best suited for
construction geotechnical wise-the ground below was strewn with derelict mine construction like tunnels,
which lead to subsidence and sinkholes. However, these factors were given a blindfold and construction was
carried out further.
These faults were further more damaging since the investigation showed that there were previous cases
where the roof got damaged in the past, to have only carried out emergency repairs and did not report the
damage to a building inspector as required by Polish law.

Civil Engineering Year 2 - Raunaq Mohamed

016445

According to reports, the roof had a 100% overload compared to its design safe loading. Further investigation
showed that, in 2002 the roof buckled under heavy snow, and against the regulations the hall was repaired
despite getting a building inspectors clearance. On top of this, the construction was resumed without doing
necessary tests and calculations to determine if the construction was stable and had sufficient strength.
It was also found that two architects involved in the structure made several errors and had brought about
many changes to the initial drawing without getting the approvals from the authorities. The head architect of
the structure was found to have approved the drawings of the design although it was very obvious to have
major errors and deficiencies- investigation done by experts revealed that there were major errors in the
construction of the structure such as steel constructions and reinforced concrete constructions.

CONCLUSION
After careful and thorough investigation, it was clear that the structure failed due to careless mistakes leading
to incorrect design from the construction company MTK, which was found to have been done to make the
construction cheaper. The investigation was formally completed at the end of June 2008 indicting 12 personals
through the investigation including the designer of the hall facing upto 12 years in prison. The result of the
catastrophe lead to the amendment of the Polish Building law in March 2007. The new amendment requires
large buildings must now undergo a technical survey twice every year (before and after winter) to make sure
they are safe and structurally sound, hence avoiding such catastrophic failures. It was also mentioned that
companies which fail to conduct the survey is punishable by a minimum 1,000 zloty fine or a imprisonment for a
specified period of time depending on the case.
It is important to note that this failure was due to improper management and planning by the company and
the responsible authorities, who moved forward with the construction knowing the possible consequences
considering the previous signs shown in the building regarding to its instability. The carelessness resulted in the
loss of 65 people along with other numerous causalities.