Through the past few months, the importance of community interaction and mental well-being has been felt by all. Yet, the need for a support system and constant reassurance has been a recurrent issue for much longer for forcibly displaced populations. Adding to the current health fears these communities, estimated at nearly 70.8 million ( 25.9 refugees only) around the world, struggle with traumas, mental health issues and have much difficulty in adapting to temporary or permanent foreign settings.
When facing emergencies such as natural disasters, warfare or pandemics, architecture must offer immediate and effective solutions. In these unfortunate circumstances, the priority is usually to solve problems around housing, however, once the emergency is under control, the focus starts to slowly move towards meeting places such as community centers, neighborhood councils and public spaces.
Earthquakes, pandemics, conflicts, and environmental disasters are some of the events that have challenged architects, planners, designers, and engineers. The goal is to find ways of creating structures and infrastructure more quickly, easily, efficiently, suiting both the circumstances and the location in which they will be implemented. When searching for materials that meet the requirements for each situation, those considered "alternative" or unusual - at least in the context of emergency shelters - can offer great opportunities for experimentation and applicability for emergency structures. Containers and tensioned fabrics always come to mind when discussing temporary constructions. However, there are other highly available materials with good mechanical properties that can achieve relief purposes.
As the healthcare infrastructure is becoming overwhelmed and hospitals around the world are reaching their capacities, new alternative possibilities are emerging. In response to bed shortage and facility saturation, architects around the world are taking action, in the on-going fight against the coronavirus. Focusing their knowhow to find fast and efficient design solutions that can be implemented anywhere, they are proposing flexible, fast assembled, mobile, and simple structures. With a very tight timetable, some projects are already implemented and in service, while others remain on a conceptual level, waiting to be adopted.
With more than 70 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, according to the UNHCR, and nearly 25.9 million refugees, the time has come to reconsider the traditional emergency camp approach. Although the concept is temporary by definition, in real life the lifespan of these refugee camps exceeds the planned and the expected.
Flooding is a significant problem for buildings all around the world, including architectural treasures like the Farnsworth House that have been plagued by the issue time and time again. In particular, one-third of the entire continental U.S. are at risk of flooding this spring, especially the Northern Plains, Upper Midwest, and Deep South. Last April, deadly floods decimated parts of Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Iran as well, resulting in a low estimate of 1,000 deaths while tens of thousands more were displaced. While architecture cannot solve or even fully protect from the most deadly floods, it is possible – and necessary – to take several protective measures that could mitigate damage and consequently save lives.
The concepts of autonomy, collaboration, and participation have gained relevance in architecture and urbanism through collaborative actions involving the community, architects, urban planners, and designers. As the number of climate disasters has significantly increased - doubling in the last 40 years according to a report released in 2016 by CRED (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters) - in addition to conflicts and other tragedies, the demand for the rebuilding of houses and infrastructure in affected areas has grown simultaneously. This has called for a major collaborative effort in architectural and urban reconstruction.
Emergencies include a variety of contemporary scenarios ranging from natural disasters to extreme poverty or isolation due to social and political conflicts. In all cases, the disruption of normality and the requirement of basic needs for maintaining a decent quality of life become the basis for finding quick and efficient alternatives to respond to this type of urgency.
New York City is the pinnacle hybrid between the vibrant and granular neighborhoods that Jane Jacobs once envisioned and the sweeping urban innovations of Robert Moses. However, its diverse population has experienced hardship over the last twenty years, forcing the city into a recursive wave of self-reflection to reevaluate the urban strategies, design trends, and global transportation methods that it had grown so accustomed to. After the September 11th and Hurricane Sandy tragedies, the delicate balance between promoting a sense of individual culture and the strength in unity that New Yorkers are so often known for served as the lifeblood for revitalization. New York City has consistently handled adversity, by always rethinking, redesigning, and rebuilding this city for a better future.
As an aftermath of natural disasters, viruses and wars, in society, we often require emergency architecture. In this round-up, we explore how emergency architecture can accommodate educational needs and how it can bring together a community that has suffered social and economic hardship.
Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, war, economic and social conflicts, pandemics. The number of refugees in the world is setting records year after year. Immediate and temporary solutions, produced in batches in response to crises, mark the difference between doing what is possible and doing what should be done, always doing a lot with what's at hand. But how temporary is emergency architecture? Is it more permanent than we think?
2014 Pritzker Laureate Shigeru Ban may be as well known for his innovative use of materials as for his compassionate approach to design. For a little over three decades, Ban, the founder of the Voluntary Architects Network, has applied his extensive knowledge of recyclable materials, particularly paper and cardboard, to constructing high-quality, low-cost shelters for victims of disaster across the world —from Rwanda to Haiti, to Turkey, Japan, and more. We've rounded up 10 projects of his humanitarian work, explained by Shigeru Ban Architects themselves.
Throughout human history, the movement of populations–in search of food, shelter, or better economic opportunities–has been the norm rather than the exception. Today, however, the world is witnessing unprecedented levels of displacement. The United Nations reports that 68.5 million people are currently displaced from their homes; this includes nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of eighteen. With conflicts raging on in countries like Syria and Myanmar, and climate change set to lead to increased sea levels and crop failures, the crisis is increasingly being recognised as one of the foundational challenges of the twenty-first century.
Until the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis was perhaps the fundamental design problem of our Anthropocene era. The threat of climate change has forced us as designers to reevaluate how we realize designs at all scales. Eco-friendly interior finishes, net-zero energy skyscrapers, and strategies to prevent the rising sea levels from pushing residents in coastal cities more inland are just some of the innovative solutions that have come from the increased urgency to mitigate the effects of the climate on our world.