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«Reconstructing Houses In Aleppo: Literature Review»

Literature Review

Repairs and Reconstruction

To start with, it is necessary to admit that the literature review has identified that material consideration is an approach, which has to be chosen for the entire procedure of repairs and reconstruction. As Biondini and Frangopol (2008) have proven, mechanical characteristics of material are a prominent factor regarding the resistance of reconstructed building. The essence of the chosen approach is based on the redesign of original material into brick sets of the similar size. The laboratory experiment has demonstrated that custom bricks sized 40 x 40 x 160 mm3, which were cut from original ones and were framed with the stainless metal, demonstrate highest resistance to all existing types of stress. Provided that the original brick has resistance equal to 8.95 MPa, the redesigned set of bricks obtains the resistance equal to 15.85. What is more, Biodini and Frangopol (2008) have conducted an elasticity test in accordance with Italian UNI Standard. As a result, the redesigned set of bricks is capable of resisting the tension of the load equal to 250 kPa/s, which is nearly 30% of the material’s natural strength. On the contrary, it is worth mentioning that the material demonstrated no vibration deviation at the load equal to 10% of its natural strength (Biodini & Frangopol 2008). One may argue that these results are valid in the laboratory environment only. It is not true as long as similar evidence can be presented in the following example, which is suggested in the form of a case study. In the same way, the damaged cities, which suffered after the World War II, were reconstructed using the same approach. Undoubtedly, the technologies of that period were not so sophisticated, but it is essential to note that houses were repaired in accordance with a need for the improvement of mechanical characteristics of the material. Materials were not recycled, and for this reason some improvements were made regarding the perspective of a so-called “place annihilation”, which was the central concern (Charlesworth 2006). Namely, the materials were containing substances, which could maximally render mechanical elasticity and resistance to failure stresses. It is becoming increasingly apparent that consideration of materials is an approach, which has proven its credibility in terms of the most devastating post-war period.

Taking these points into consideration, it is necessary to note that the material for reconstruction is the primary concern. In such a way, this approach suggests that the original material of damaged buildings should obtain a form of smaller bricks, which comprise a set of the similar size. It is pivotal to conduct an independent lab testing in order to determine the improvements of the mechanical characteristics of the material. The parameters for a single brick and a number of sets depend on the peculiarities of the destroyed building. Therefore, it is mainly a matter of methodology of repairs and reconstruction, which will be addressed further in this chapter of literature review. All in all, it is the main point concerning the general approach of reconstruction and repairs of the houses in Aleppo.

What concerns the methodology of repairs and reconstruction of destroyed buildings in Aleppo more specifically, it is necessary to admit that any reconstruction is supposed to be based on the data of the preliminary investigation, which can be divided into several phases. Alexander et al. (2012) assume that the investigation of possible repair solutions can be determined by geotechnical research of the related environment. The soil investigation is the primary objective as long as it has the closest contact with the foundation of a building. This is an essential point even if the foundation is not damaged. As soon as the geotechnical environment of the building is identified and the related data are extracted, it is important to brainstorm possible ways of repairs. Needless to say, the most apt variant should be chosen according to the results of geotechnical investigation. The chosen option has to address the following measurements, as well. First, footing should be founded on piles. Second, installing piles need to be substituted with jet grouting below the spread footing. Third, the installation of soil anchors is compulsory. Fourth, diaphragm walls have to support the footing. Fifth, sheet piling is supposed to guard backfill. Doubtless, strength of all joints should be also ensured (Alexander et al. 2012). These requirements are relatively simple, but their effectiveness is obvious in the following example from the related case study. In fact, the main objective of post-World War II reconstruction was the privilege of center and foundation over periphery. The privilege should be understood as the requirement for the periphery to serve the center and foundation (Charlesworth 2006). Obviously, previously that there was no such sophisticated framework like nowadays, but civil engineering of that period took the right approach as it is obviously seen in the results of the chosen reconstruction.

Eventually, the suggested methodology is quite flexible. It recommends taking measures of the related environment, especially soil, as long as it has the primary connection to the foundation of a building. Thus, foundation is the central objective of this methodology. This is clearly seen throughout the related requirements of the methodology. Still, this methodology implies an independent decision-making concerning the results of the investigation, because these data are regarded as the main determinant of potential solutions. In fact, such flexibility is relevantly correlated with the suggested design, which will be described next. Hence, it is necessary to proceed with this description.

Regarding the basic points of Aleppo houses’ design, it is necessary to admit that it needs minimal hierarchical guidance. In other words, it does not have to follow a strict pattern, which is applied to every single damaged building within the city. That is why the results of the 1st proceedings of the international workshop on design in civil and environmental engineering suggest that minimum of instructive guidance i the best way to serve all needs of the destroyed buildings in Aleppo. To be more specific, these proceedings assume that the design of damaged building should be developed in terms of a so-called Reservoir project. This project implies a division of the entire repairs team into smaller groups, which work for every single house independently. These groups are enabled to create their own standards and approaches, as the main goal is to restore destroyed buildings at the highest level of civil engineering practice and environmental considerations. In such a way, each building will be designed in accordance with its own requirements, which are not influenced by the general outline. By the same token, the reconstructing process is able to fill some data gaps, which can be not mentioned by the hierarchical framework (Thompson 2011). The gained experience can be exchanged and systemized so that this project has some theoretical value to the entire discipline of civil engineering. These procedures may seem to be complicated, but they can be supported by the relevant evidence from the related case study. Actually, the majority of repair procedures were conducted by private building agenda within post-war Europe (Charlesworth 2006). These agendas developed their own frameworks regarding every single segment of destroyed cities. This framework was not as detailed as a modern one, but the purpose of this example is based on the need to prove that reconstruction procedures can be embodied without a hierarchical guidance of the government. It is also worth mentioning the socio-cultural factor. Promoting of the idea that Europe should start “living the same life” was sufficiently strong (Charlesworth 2006). As a consequence, the same social advertising can be applied to the case of Aleppo. To get back to the point, the lack of materials and equipment was not a particular approach, but the unavoidable fact of the post-war reality. Hence, contemporary independent repair teams have to calculate required resources as accurately as possible.

Moreover, it is becoming increasingly apparent that such design means minimal costs, as well. It does not require the entire set of sophisticated equipment, which can be transported without the guarantees of it being actually used. The suggested design is flexible so that it is able to fit any budget, which will be available for Syria after the end of the civil war. Budget, however, is not the most prominent concern of house repairs in Aleppo. One of the most important objectives is quality restoring of all damaged buildings according to the up-to-date standards and principles of sustainability. As long as the suggested standards and approaches have been issued, it is necessary to discuss the considerations of sustainability in terms of design.

Sustainable Design

With regard to sustainable housing design in Aleppo, it is necessary to admit that the central concern is a need for minimal time and costs, which underpin the idea of environmentally friendly design. This requirement is logical as long as Syria suffers from the civil war and external financial support is not provided on a regular basis. Besides, it is essential to mention that low costs should be understood in terms of the design sophistication, while the budget for the factual repairs, material, etc. is no object. Taking these points into account, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that design has to presuppose a progressive sequence of repairs. This requirement can be met by the precast concrete housing design. Before discussing the advantages of this design, it is necessary to clarify what is meant by precast concrete housing. In fact, it is a technique, which considers the functionality of a building under certain negative influences, usually earthquakes (Federation Internationale du Beton 2003). This technique regards concrete as the main bearing material, while brick sets are a protecting layer due tof their mechanical characteristics.

The choice of this design is the most practical decision because of the following points. In fact, Federation Internationale du Beton (2003) suggests that precast concrete housing design clearly protects from certain damages. Any damage will be reflected on the external look of the building so that the threat can be eliminated as soon as possible (Federation Internationale du Beton 2003). What is more, Englekirk (2003) supports this idea with a description of certain mechanical characteristics, which can be rendered via this technique. As it has been already mentioned, concrete is regarded as the main bearing material so that it provides a lateral support for the entire building. This approach is crucially important as long as dynamic characteristics of brick sets tend to worsen without any respect to their mechanical parameters. The repairs will be conducted in average small-sized houses so that resistant brick sets are a heavy load, as PΔ effects are considerably strong. As a consequence, precast concrete design considers lateral force to be equal to the negative force. Otherwise, the building will collapse. In addition, Englekirk (2003) admits that the stability of lateral support can be ensured by framing, which is supposed to be developed independently. The entire concrete and brick set structure do not have to be framed, though. Brick sets are framed initially, as it has been discussed previously. As for concrete, a segment, which is not supported with any lateral force, needs framing (Englekirk 2003). Having considered all these peculiarities, it is important to be explicit about the impact of this technique on the sustainability of the housing.

First of all, Aleppo houses will be maximally protected from numerous possible disasters. Therefore, none of these harms will be made to the environment. Second, precast concrete design addresses the methodology, which has been already outlined: the foundation is a central concern so that the design is responsible for lateral support of the buildings. Third, repairs will be conducted in a progressive sequence. Namely, a repairs group will work on a certain element without switching to the other segments so that every single building will have a redesigned foundation and framed lateral sidings. Fourth, the materials and equipment will be used in the requireed quantity per each house. For this reason, no waste arise expected. This point can be regarded as a consideration of sustainability, as well. Doubtless, there can be a little agreement on the efficiency of this technique regarding the sustainability of housing in Aleppo. However, it is necessary to note that the similar evidence is largely based upon the related case study. To be more exact, the post-war Europe incorporated a framework, which was particularly focused on three “Ps”: political and ethnic issues, public consultation, and pilot projects (Charlesworth 2006). The most interesting principle is pilot projects, as they correlate with contemporary precast concrete design. It can be explained by the fact that both designs value gradual repairs of a building. In other words, repairs of a new segment of destroyed building cannot be started, while the previous element has not been restored yet. Besides, it is worth noting that these three “p” principles strongly resemble three pillars of sustainability. That is why it is possible to assume that the approach of sustainability is a natural tendency in civil engineering nowadays, so that it has to be applied to the project in Aleppo.

All in all, the precast concrete housing design implies less time and costs and relates to the sustainable design of houses in Aleppo. Minimum time for repairs per single house is conveyed by a progressive sequence of reconstructing procedures. In the same manner, costs are saved. Gradual repairs presuppose the exact amount of materials and equipment so that repairs produce minimum waste. In such a way, the design serves all three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental, and social (former refugees will receive their houses repaired sooner). Additionally, there is some additional benefit, which is beyond the terms of sustainability. Actually, precast concrete housing design applied to the destroyed buildings in Aleppo would contribute to the practice of civil engineering. This experience will create a new civil engineering paradigm from the perspective of precast concrete housing design. In other words, this technique has not been applied to the repairs of houses in a post-war city to its broadest extent. Thus, Aleppo project obtains not only empirical value, but theoretical one as well. As the main points of sustainable design have been discussed, it is necessary to proceed with the related objective, which relates to the recycling of used materials.

Recycling of Materials

Recycling is known to be one of the most environmentally friendly practices. Therefore, it should be applied to the repairs and reconstruction of houses in Aleppo. As the previous subsection has proven, it reduces costs, time, and considers environmental concerns. In such a way, recycling serves these functions, as well. The source by Saddleback Education Publishing (2009) admits that the most widespread building materials for recycling are concrete and bricks. In fact, concrete comprises approximately 40-50% of all recyclable building materials. Concrete usually loses 10-15% of its original size. Therefore, it is a convenient and efficient material for preliminary planning. What is more, it can be easily separated in order to be utilized for bearing or foundation supporting segments (Saddleback Education Publishing 2009). With regards to bricks, it is important to note that recycling has certain implications, which are revealed by Hendriks and Janssen (2004). Reused bricks tend to contain a particular degree of hazardous substances and chemicals, which are minimal in the original substance. Hence, one should not confuse recycled bricks with the so-called “equivalent of building material” as long as it is likely to be harmful to health and safety. Needless to say, the recycling calculations of substances and chemicals are supposed to address the existing standards and requirements, which are regarded as official in a particular state (Hendriks & Janssen 2004). These standards may occur to be irrelevant, though, but certain hazardous deviations still can be traced. Therefore, quality assurance is obligatory at every single phase of recycling. Besides these implications, it is pivotal to note that recycled materials have to address certain environmental theories, which are not commonly considered to be important. That is why one of these theories should be discussed.

To be more exact, Hendriks and Janssen (2004) suggest that a theory of three dimensions has to be applied to the recycling considerations. This theory assumes that environmentally sustainable building can exist in terms of considering three dimensions: technologies, space, and building lifespan. All these dimensions are mutually correlated, but the most significant one is technology as long as it directly underpins environmental sustainability. In other words, a building, which obtains reasonable space and performs effectively for a long period, cannot exist without being incorporated with sustainable technologies. On the contrary, it is worth noting that lifespan of a building is also an important component. It is not included in the traditional sustainable housing models, however, but it can be regarded as one of the most prominent determinants of sustainability. Provided that a building is designed according to the sustainable technologies and obtains rational area, but demonstrates certain problems in its performance, lifespan should be regarded as a metric. This metric designates a period of real sustainability of the building. Taking this point into account, it should be admitted that this dimension has to be included into the mathematical calculations of sustainable housing. Such models will enable to create comparisons, which include related dependent and independent variables (changeable and stable factors). As a result, these comparisons will determine approximate break-even points for every single set of variables (Hendriks & Jannsen 2004). To return to the subject of the houses’ repairs in Aleppo, it should strive for long-termed lifespan, because it is one of the objectives, which have already been tackled. Thus, Hendriks and Jannsen (2004) suggest that environmental load has to be spread over a broader area. This requirement has its own implication so that it is crucial to give it an independent account.


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