We are not accustomed to seeing buildings on fire. Landscape yes. Buildings not so much.
Last night, in case you missed it, the Marigold Hotel component of OMA’s CCTV complex was burning brightly in Beijing, following a fireworks display marking the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations. The building had been completed but was unoccupied.
Buildings don’t catch fire anymore; statutory building codes have all but made urban fires extinct. So seeing one, with fireworks exploding in the background and with no one injured turns the scene to spectacle. A very expensive (and heartbreaking to those who spent years of their lives bringing the building to this point) spectacle.
Images from Reuters.
Landscape on fire on the other hand is something in Australia we are accustomed to. Blackened stretches of bushland along the side of the highway. Christmas day with an ash-filled luminous red sky. Tiny green leaves on blackened trunks months later. It is a survival technique of the landscape for it to renew itself periodically, but when we cross paths with this cycle, we are bested.
Victoria is currently experiencing the worst natural disaster in this country’s recorded history. There is no spectacle here. No fireworks. Ai Wei Wei is not blogging this scene.
There are over 170 people confirmed dead with fires still burning.
Images sourced from The Big Picture.
Stricter and smarter controls for buildings in bushfire prone areas would no doubt have reduced the loss of life and damage to structures, but it is hard to imagine that much can be done to reduce the impact of a fire that can melt the wheels of cars and travels at 100km/hr on the hottest and driest day in Victoria’s recorded history.
However accustomed we are to seeing the landscape in flame, this familiarity and inevitability only makes dealing with its occurence more difficult.
Donations may be made to the Red Cross Victorian Bushfire Appeal.