4.217J / 11.315J
Disaster Resilient Design

This seminar was conceived during the period of the Haiti earthquake, BP oil spill, Indus River flooding, and it was revised after the 2011 tsunami in Japan. It asks how can designers and planners contribute to disaster resilience?

The field of disaster-resilient design is growing, but gaps remain between the professions of environmental design and hazards mitigation. Few planning and design schools focus on hazards. Green building movements have also devoted limited emphasis to hazards preparedness, mitigation, and reconstruction. For example, the LEED rating system has few credits for natural hazards preparedness (though USGBC is committed to changing that).

The range of environmental hazards is formidable. It encompasses rapid-onset geophysical events such as earthquakes, landslides, flash floods, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions; technological disasters that include chemical accidents and spills; and long duration events that are sometimes referred to as creeping environmental problems (e.g., drought, erosion, and climate change). Some scholars include violent conflict and terrorism. In the wake of major disasters, design schools often mobilize studios to address that particular event. While well- intentioned, this approach has limited prospects for building deep understanding, practical expertise, and long-term benefits for the people and places at risk.