In Bangladesh, where rising sea levels are having profound effects on the landscape, one nonprofit organization called Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha run by architect Mohammed Rezwan is fighting back by adapting, a true quality of resilience. Rising water levels and the tumultuous climate is displacing people by the thousands; a projected 20% of Bangladesh is expected to be covered in water within twenty years. For a country that is one of the densest populated state on the planet, this figure has disastrous consequences for a population that has limited access to fresh water, food, and medicine. In response to these conditions, Shidhulai has focused on providing education, training and care against the odds of climate change by adapting to the altered landscape: moving schools and community centers onto the water – on boats.
Resilience has many approaches. In recent months, New York City has been battling with the consequences of building along the waterfront and questioning the approach necessary to protect itself against future incidents. Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, these concerns have been the reality for many years. Venice is frequently flooded but its main form of transportation is by gondola along its narrow canals flanked by century-old buildings and occasional walkways. Amsterdam faces the constant threat of being overpowered by the three bodies of water that surround it. But Amsterdam has embraced its position and has designed preventative measures to keep the water at bay. It’s architecture has even been so bold as to build out onto the water. The video below introduces Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha‘s goals and solutions.
Shidhulai’s approach is very catered to the lifestyle of Bangladesh. While this nonprofit considers their options for dealing with rising sea levels and sporadic flooding, an architecture firm in The Netherlands offers a different kind of solution. Waterstudio has worked for several years in the realm of developing floating architecture. One of its recent project, Floating City Apps, has won an award award from the Jacques Rougerie Foundation, whose funds can provide a prototype for Bangladesh. Floating City Apps, which you can read about here, is a concept developed to provide much needed assistance to slums that are frequently destroyed during times of flooding. The structures proposed by Waterstudio are floating units that contain a variety of programs that be deployed as necessary. These include communities gardens, sewage treatment systems, housing units, clinics, community centers, schools, and the list can go on. These “apps” are envisioned as emergency relief structures only and are flexible enough to maintain a steady amount of support as a community recuperates. Both approaches provide vital and much needed solutions for areas under these kinds of threats, but it is a constant question between adapting to the threat or escaping from it and that seems to be the kind of debate that will ultimately result from the nature of our changing climate.