Estonia to Launch Review of Potential Risk Buildings ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

While warning that there is no particular reason to fear a structural problem similar to the one in the store collapse in Riga on Thursday, Estonian officials have announced that they will review all potentially high-risk public buildings in the country.

The Technical Surveillance Authority said on Monday that the criteria for inclusion on the list have not been decided yet, but that the process will proceed with input from structural engineers and construction companies.

"It's clear that we don't have the capacity to review all public buildings and don't have to, as a great majority are absolutely safe," Kaur Kajak, the organization's deputy director, said in Postimees, after a meeting involving representatives of ministries and departments.

While there are no buildings with similar designs to the Maxima supermarket where the ceiling and roof caved in, there has been criticism from building designers that customers often opt for time-saving solutions.

Key differences from Latvia include more failsafes: an additional expert analysis from a second certified building designer is required prior to construction, and public buildings require an expert opinion in the building permit application phase, reported Postimees.

This does not rule out the substitution of cheaper building materials or the possibility that the builders simply improvised on the spot. Both of these possibilities are being investigated in the case of the Riga store collapse, which killed 54.

Similar practices also made headlines in Estonia in 2009. Under pressure from the city to open a new shopping center in Tallinn by a deadline, the builders at the Solaris center fastened ceilings as they themselves saw fit, in the absence of building design documentation for that part of the project. After the mall was opened, a suspended ceiling crashed into an empty cinema shortly after a movie had finished showing.

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