Collapse of the Grimburgwal, a historic quay in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

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A quay wall directly next to a building, both dating from around 1870, collapsed along the Grimburgwal in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on 1 September 2020. The historic quay wall consisted of a masonry wall, built of a timber deck supported by several rows of timber piles of about 12 m long. As over 200 km of such quays exists in Amsterdam and streets are usually very busy, the collapse triggered the question of the safety of the remaining quay walls in the city. A forensic investigation was carried out to determine the failure mechanisms and factors that contributed to the collapse. The investigation aimed to learn from this event and to prevent similar failures in the future. The main failure mechanisms and contributing factors were identified and confirmed using an integrated model of the quay, which is both simple and robust. The model was used to perform a sensitivity study taking all relevant uncertain factors into account. This work provided valuable insight into the main collapse mechanisms of the wall. Based on the results of this forensic study, it is possible to assess other historic quays.