Why Buildings Collapse

Why Buildings Collapse

In 2021, Champlain Towers South – an apartment building near Miami – collapsed, killing 98 people. This film forensically examines what happened and asks: what went wrong? And could more buildings across the world be at risk of a similarly catastrophic fate?

On 24 June 2021, Champlain Towers South – a 13-storey residential building in Surfside, Florida – collapsed in just 12 seconds. Fifty-five apartments were reduced to rubble, and 98 people lost their lives. What might have caused one of the worst building failures in modern history? There is still no official explanation. This programme examines what went wrong and investigates the implications for other buildings around the world, including those in the UK.

Emotional eyewitness testimony, tense bodycam footage from first responders, news archive footage and 3D CGI animations are used to piece together the definitive, moment-by-moment account of this disaster.

The programme explores the factors that might have led to the collapse – featuring case studies of other dramatic building collapses – and unpacks the science and engineering behind them. There are interviews with leading forensic engineers and the investigating engineer for the town of Surfside. The building was in urgent need of repair – did this play a role in its failure?

What lessons might we learn from this disaster? In Scotland, more than half of all housing is in need of repairs to critical elements, and tenements are crumbling in cities like Glasgow. How should we tackle the problem of our ageing buildings, and what technological solutions could we adopt to prevent a future tragedy?

Why Buildings Collapse – Tuesday 9pm on BBC2

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