It is raining rocks!

A few weeks ago we read some extremely disturbing news in the national and local online media. As a result of heavy rain in Hermoupolis, our city, debris of an old building had fallen on parked cars and also on a car crossing the road. Some of the cars had serious damages but fortunately, no one was hurt. We felt like it was raining rocks!!

The pupils of the fourth grade (9-10 years old) were really upset with this fact and afraid that a major part of our town is going to collapse in the near future. That been said and after a long conversation between the teacher Mr Nektarios Farassopoulos and the students, we decided to look for answers:

Why are the buildings falling down?
What can we do to prevent similar events in the future?
Which professionals are working in this field?

On Thursday, April 13th, we invited a STEM professional, a Digital Heritage Architect to our online class hoping that he can help us understand more things about that incident. Mr Pavlos Chatzigrigoriou is a Civil Engineer with an MSc in Restoration and Conservation of Monuments, an MSc in Environmental Planning and a PhD in Architecture (Digital Heritage). He is the person who can explain to us what really happened a few weeks ago in our city and what proactive measures can be taken to handle the situation in the future. Also, Mr. Chatzigrigoriou is an excellent role model for the students and his work is a great example of how STEM professionals can help local communities prevent serious problems.

He started his presentation talking about the incident that occurred in our city a few weeks ago.

A bulding that collapsed in Syros, Greece
A bulding that collapsed in Syros, Greece

He explained that unfortunately, this is something that has happened before in our city and in cities all over Greece and Europe.

A bulding that collapsed in Athens, Greece

Then he tried to explain to students his job and what he is doing to maintain the historical buildings around Syros. He presented all the factors that affect the condition of a building.

A building that collapsed in Italy

Also he stated that similarly to humans, buildings also have age and as they become older they need extra support. This is the main reason for the collapse of that building.

One hundrend and fifty years old building
One thousand and two hundrend years old building

In addition, explaining other parts of his job, he stressed how important it is for an engineer and an architect to design houses carefully and select the appropriate materials. For centuries people used stones for building and they needed much time. In the last decades, we mostly use cement that helps us build houses much faster. But there is a price to it. The buildings now are not as beautiful as they used to be.

Results of slow building

Finally, he mentioned the negative effects the use of cement in the construction of buildings has on the environment.  The energy footprint from the production of cement and other modern materials is very large and causes environmental pollution.

Pollution caused by cement production

It has been an enlightening experience for the pupils. Despite their young age, they understand that STEM professionals like Mr Chatzigrigoriou really can help the restoration of the buildings in our cities and the preservation of our cultural heritage, as many of them have architectural interest and cultural value.

The success of the event was recorded in the many questions posed by the students so that there is not enough time for our guest to answer all of them.