If it wasn’t for dirty dishes, Alexander Fleming would not have invented penicillin. Saccharine wouldn’t have been invented if chemist Constantin Fahlberg washed his hands. We would not have plastic today without John Wesley Hyatt accidentally spilling a bottle of collodion. Accidental successes in scientific discoveries also include radioactivity, x-rays, atomic nucleus, smart dust, pulsars, vulcanized rubber, microwave, and many others. Although initially perceived as a mistake or blunder, they led to new discoveries and success.
Architecture is not immune to such ‘mistakes’. The most famous one is probably the leaning Tower of Pisa (Torre Pendente di Pisa). In August 1173 construction of a monumental bell tower weighing 14,500 metric tons and raising to the hight of 60 meters began. Unfortunately, just five years later the building started to lean. The tilting happened because of an inadequate foundation on the ground which was too soft on one side to properly support the structure’s weight. The architect, who remained unknown, made a colossal mistake by forgetting that Pisa got its name in 600 BC from a Greek word meaning “marshy land.”
Construction was immediately stopped, to resume one hundred years later in 1275. It took another hundred years to have it finally completed in 1372, with tilt increasing to a staggering angle of 5.5 degrees. The structure was stabilized and the tilt partially corrected by efforts done between in 1990 and 2001. The tower now leans at about 3.99 degrees, which means the top of the tower is displaced horizontally 3.9 meters from the center.
Beautiful leaning tower survived six major earthquakes and attempts ‘to fix it’ by Italy’s 20th-century leader, Benito Mussolini, who was ashamed of its mistaken construction and regarded it as a national disgrace and an embarrassment to Italy’s reputation. American soldiers had orders to tear down all buildings in Italy that could serve as lookout points for enemy snipers during WWII, which included the Leaning Tower, but it’s said that when the Allies arrived they were so impressed by the beauty of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the surrounding Field of Miracles that they decided not to level the area.
Today, this ‘architectural mistake’ brings over one million visitors to Pisa and represents one of the most recognizable towers around the world.
Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later a collection of mistakes called experience leads us to success! (unknown)
We need to view ‘mistakes’ as an opportunity for learning more, increasing our awareness, understanding, and experience. That is a way to better self-awareness and self-development. Therefore, maybe there are no mistakes, just bitter pills of personal growth and success.
YouTube video: Beautiful Pisa
DISCLAIMER: Any views or opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of his employer.