Post 266 – by Gautam Shah
Walls have been part of architecture to bear the load of super structures, resist the thrusts and divide the spaces. Barrier walls have erected against, invasions, natural forces such as winds, storms, sea water ingress, floods and tsunamis, noise, and other energies. Political walls isolated or confined people on moral, religious or criminal grounds. Natural terrain formations are walls such as the hills, cliffs, mountain ranges, causeways.
The essential engineering formation of walls have been the same as in architectural structures. The walls are constructed as composition of elemental units placed in substantially in consideration of the gravity, and to smaller extent against the direction of thrust and friction resistance offered by the mass movement of the ingredients. Walls are created by engineered design where materials either achieve homogeneity through composite formation or make a geometric arrangement towards a unified system.
A levee, dike or dyke, embankment, flood-bank or stop-bank, are walls by exploitation of natural features or formed to prevent flooding of the adjoining countryside, waterways to provide reliable shipping lanes, confine the flow of the river or high tide ingress. Breakwaters are coastal defence structures for weather protection and long-shore drift.
Barriers against Noise have been of two types: one that deflects the sound and the other that substantially absorb or dampen the noise. These have been placed on road and rail sides, airport runways and on Metro railway stations. The railway platform barriers also act as safety walls.
Political walls are ‘designed to keep people in or out, while some simply keep people apart’. The walls have divided nations and assets, isolated the populace from foreign influences, controlled immigration, countered the invasions. Non-wall barriers have been erected to contain spread of diseases like Plague, Aids, TB, Polio or Ebola. Walls have erected to very tall and wide, impossible to negotiate. Walls have been barbed or electrified, made of impossible to shear cut materials, multi-layered with infra-red cameras and motion detectors. Yet in theory, no wall should be impossible to scale. ‘Show me a 50-foot wall and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder, US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said about the massive and highly secured border between the USA and Mexico’.
Modern political walls have manifested in Berlin, Germany, Middle East, US-Mexico, Northern Ireland and N-S Korea. Political walls have a duality of differing views on either side. It attempts to sustain a status-quo at any cost. It takes only time to force the change in the mind set. Europe was and still is made of divided nations, but EC has caused few common things such as currency, taxation and exchanges.
Walls have been ‘cultured’ by their long-lasting ethnicity. Some have been associated with religious myths, legends, events, people or time.
Fort walls were supposed to be defence structures but have been for display of power due to their form, size, location and function. Fort walls signify a point of change in political environment, which could be at one extreme, very real, and at the other extreme only indicative or metaphysical. Fort walls have been endowed with importance by additional structures such as gates, towers, abutments, ramparts, bulwark, bastions, Bastille, battlements, belvedere (chhatri), buttresses and campaniles (bell tower).
The word wall comes from Latin vallum = an earthen wall or rampart set with palisades, a row or line of stakes, or fortification. The Latin word murus meant a defensive structure of stones, in later English, it is used for an external wall and internal sides of a room. In German, the words Wand and Mauer, and in Spanish the pared and muro have distinctive meanings.