Grenfell Tower Fire: The Power of Circumstances

The summer of 2017 marked one of the deadliest fires in Great Britain since the Blitz of the Second World War and a very sobering lesson in the design and construction of safe buildings. Our school of architecture had decided to implement a research project on Grenfell Tower (with some convincing from yours truly). This was a great addition for several reasons: we had an opportunity to study a very recent event still fresh in the minds of the public, to see the real world application of building safety and regulation, and to be more conscious of the responsibility and social contract architects have to society at large.

Now one of the most fascinating aspects of the Grenfell fire was the vast intersection of circumstances tailor made for a tragedy like this. From the combustible cladding, lack of a sprinkler system, poor plan design, and the presence of one exit staircase. These circumstances seemed like a match made in heaven for some sort of calamity to occur. It is quit easy to blame one single factor and to become narrow minded in your vision; this is especially understandably considering the many intense emotions the discussion will arouse. However, it is important to develop the ability to have a discerning and broad vision that can pierce the problem from multiple angles and form a circumvisional perspective of a given situation. Having this state of mind allows one to better assess and understand the unique factors of a situation and to better contextualize and understand them in relation to each other and as a whole.

To conclude, we will summarize two primary principles from the Grenfell tower: the infinitely complex spider web of circumstances and causal factors in reality and the importance of having a penetrating and discerning Mind and a broad vision in all endeavors and daily life.