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Natural Disaster: The Latest Architecture and News

Climate Crisis Is Ravaging the United States; Why Are We Still Building With Fossil Fuels?

This August, as hundreds of wildfires darkened the sky above my home in Corte Madera, California, thousands of miles away in Florida, my family braced for wind and flooding as two hurricanes barreled towards the Gulf of Mexico. We all hunkered down, anxiously, as climate change-fueled disasters wreaked havoc. For weeks, the air quality in California was too hazardous for us to open our windows or go outside. In Pensacola, the Gulf storm surge was several feet deep around my family’s home and the powerful winds downed mature oak trees in their yard.

This Company Designed a House Out of Seaweed with 50% Fewer Resources Than the Average Social Housing Project

© Omar Vázquez Sánchez© Víctor Hugo Acevedo© Víctor Hugo Acevedo© Víctor Hugo Acevedo+ 12

Over the past few months, Quintana Roo's coast has been overtaken by an invasion of seaweed that has put the locals to work cleaning up the beaches as the weeds wash ashore. The work is an exhausting day-to-day ordeal and while the cause of the invasion is still unknown, many point to the changes in climate impacting the Atlantic Ocean. 

Currently, over 60 tons of seaweed has been gathered from the coast and locals are already putting the plants to good use as raw materials for biodigestors, cosmetics, plastics, fertilizers, and pharmaceuticals. However, another use for seaweed has recently come to the public's attention. 

The Failed Mexican Earthquake Memorial That Shows Protest Can Still Shape the Urban Environment

The proposed memorial to earthquake victims in Mexico City met with fierce resistance from residents who felt authorities had not done enough for the people left homeless by the tragedy. Image via Common Edge
The proposed memorial to earthquake victims in Mexico City met with fierce resistance from residents who felt authorities had not done enough for the people left homeless by the tragedy. Image via Common Edge

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Letter From Mexico City: An Insidious Memorial to a Still-Unfolding Tragedy."

You wouldn’t think it looking at Mexico City today—a densely populated metropolis, where empty space is hard to come by—but decades earlier, following a devastating earthquake on September 19, 1985, more than 400 buildings collapsed, leaving a collection of open wounds spread over the cityscape.

Exactly thirty-two years later, the anniversary of that disaster was ominously commemorated with an emergency evacuation drill. Then, in one of those odd occurrences in which reality proves to be stranger than fiction, a sudden jolt scarcely two hours after the drill led to what would be yet another of the deadliest earthquakes in the city’s history. Buildings once again collapsed, leaving a rising-by-the-hour death toll that eventually reached 361, as well as swarms of bewildered citizens wandering the streets, frantically attempting to reach their loved ones through the weakened cell phone reception. “We’d just evacuated for the drill,” people said, like a collective mantra. “How could this happen again?”

Shigeru Ban Creates Temporary Shelter System for Japanese Flooding Victims

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban has mobilized his Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN) to aid victims of recent devastating floods in Southern Japan. At least 210 people have been killed by flooding and landslides which occurred last week, with a continuing heatwave further hampering recovery efforts.

Ban, along with members of the VAN and student volunteers, is constructing a partition system in evacuation centers made from paper tubes and cloth curtains. The temporary structures intend to offer privacy for flooding victims, forming a modular unit of 2 meters by 2 meters.

Courtesy of Voluntary Architects' NetworkCourtesy of Voluntary Architects' NetworkCourtesy of Voluntary Architects' NetworkCourtesy of Voluntary Architects' Network+ 7

Kenzo Tange Gymnasium and 7 Other Threatened Sites Receive $1M in Preservation Funding

Eight sites from the World Monuments Fund’s 2018 World Monuments Watch list have been awarded $1 million in funding from American Express to support much-needed preservation and restoration initiatives. The sites were selected based on their vulnerability to specific threats like natural disasters, climate change or social forces like urbanization that have left them neglected.

HASSELL + MVRDV's Proposal to Improve the Bay Area's Resilience in the Event of a Disaster

Following recent natural disasters including the Northern California wildfires, the HASSELL + team have been inspired to reimagine the San Francisco Bay Area as a vibrant community hub, equipped to provide temporary facilities in an emergency. As part of the competition Resilient by Design, the ten teams were asked to provide solutions for the waterfront through site-specific conceptual design and collaborative research projects.

Courtesy of MVRDV and HASSELL+Courtesy of MVRDV and HASSELL+Courtesy of MVRDV and HASSELL+Courtesy of MVRDV and HASSELL++ 13

Margot Krasojević Designs Self-Excavation Hurricane House

From futuristic architect Dr. Margot Krasojević comes an unheard of design solution for hurricanes called the Self-Excavation Hurricane House. By using the storms force and a helicoid retaining wall, the structure digs itself into its intentionally designed landscape.

Courtesy of Margot Krasojević ArchitectsCourtesy of Margot Krasojević ArchitectsCourtesy of Margot Krasojević ArchitectsCourtesy of Margot Krasojević Architects+ 19

The Cutting-Edge Materials Science Making Hurricane-Proof Construction Possible

This article was originally published on Autodesk's Redshift publication as "Hurricane-Proof Construction Methods Can Prevent the Destruction of Communities."

The four hurricanes that slammed into heavily populated areas from the Caribbean to Texas this summer are inching toward a half-trillion-dollar price tag in damages—to say nothing of the work and wages missed by shutting down entire cities. Buildings are the most visible marker of a place’s resilience after a disaster strikes. Surveying the catastrophic damage forces a difficult question: How can it be rebuilt better?

How to Build a Home in a Hurricane Zone

If you live in a hurricane zone, how can you construct a home which can withstand and survive some the strongest winds on Earth? In this film, presented by The Verge's "Home of the Future" series in collaboration with Curbed, designs drawn up by North Carolina-based prefabricated home builder Deltec show a house specifically able to deal with extremely hostile weather conditions. This film demonstrates how it fared against Hurricane Harvey.

Prefab Pop-Up Shelter Designed for Burning Man and Perfected for Disaster Relief

via Advanced Shelter Systems
via Advanced Shelter Systems

Christian Weber, a 20-plus year veteran of the Burning Man festival has learned a few tricks on the Playa. Shelter from the harsh Black Rock Desert winds, heat, dust and cold nights are attributes of an experienced camp. “Every year we unload our camp out of the container and use our container as our kitchen. It literally has fold-down tables [and] air conditioning… and when we’re all done, we throw it back in the container and it’s ready to go for next year.”

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater Damaged from Flooding

© <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/pablosanchez/3145407730/'>Flickr user pablosanchez</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a>
© Flickr user pablosanchez licensed under CC BY 2.0

Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous house, Fallingwater, was the recipient of minor damage after heavy rainfall caused the creek that gives the house its name, Bear Run, to flood last weekend.

According to Fallingwater director Lynda Waggoner, a fallen log picked up by the overflow rammed into the stone wall of the lower plunge pool, breaking off the wall’s capstone and dislodging one of the home’s signature sculpture pieces, the Jacques Lipchitz’s “Mother and Child.” The cast bronze sculpture was selected for Fallingwater by Wright, and installed soon after its completion in 1939.

Renzo Piano to Lead Reconstruction Efforts Following Italian Earthquake

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has asked architect Renzo Piano to lead in the reconstruction of the central Italian towns devastated by last week’s magnitude 6.2 earthquake that claimed the lives of at least 290 people. Renzi announced a national action plan for recovery and risk prevention on Monday after meeting with Piano to discuss strategies for housing the over 3,000 displaced survivors and rebuilding the historic towns in a manner that would mitigate damage caused by future seismic activity.

“We have to act quickly, with the utmost urgency,” said Piano in a telephone interview with The Guardian. “Anti-seismic requirements must be inserted in the laws of the country to make our homes safe, just as it’s compulsory for a car to have brakes that work.”

Experts Fear Massive Losses of Historic Italian Architecture Following Magnitude 6.2 Earthquake

After yesterday’s devastating magnitude 6.2 earthquake in central Italy, art historians fear that numerous historic Italian buildings and their contents may be permanently lost. The affected region is dotted with hilltowns containing beautiful churches, monuments and museums, many of which have been rendered completely unrecognizable.

Places Journal Examines Post-Katrina Architecture in New Orleans

The damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 can never be forgotten, but 10 years after the rebuilding of New Orleans started in 2006, a new architecture has emerged with cutting-edge designs being widely celebrated in the media. The Make It Right foundation (founded after the disaster to help with structural recovery) commissioned first-class architects such as Morphosis, Shigeru Ban, and David Adjaye to design safe and sustainable houses for New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward. But Richard Campanella and Cassidy Rosen worry that this vision is detached from reality.

Rising from the Ashes: Krakow University Student Creates Vision for the Volcanic Island of Fogo

The 2016 Venice Biennale has highlighted that dealing with natural disasters may become one of the main preoccupations of architecture in the future. But nature has its destructive ways, and volcanic eruptions are among the most extreme case in point. On the Island of Fogo (Cape Verde), the Natural Park Venue designed by OTO – and elected Best Building of the Year 2015 by Archdaily readers – was destroyed by molten lava flow only one year after its opening in 2013. The building, which combined a cultural center and administrative activities, helped to activate the economy in the island’s most remote area. Following the disaster, Adrian Kasperski, a student at Krakow University, devoted his master’s thesis to the redevelopment of this area, by proposing the expansion of the existing roads and hiking trails and designing facilities to improve alternative tourism offerings.

Abeer Seikaly’s Structural Fabric Shelters Weave Refugees’ Lives Back Together

Whether from political unrest or natural disaster, refugee crises around the world seem to fill the headlines of late. These events inspired interdisciplinary designer Abeer Seikaly’s conceptual emergency shelter, entitled “Weaving A Home,” which received a Lexus Design Award in 2013. The collapsible structural fabric shelter can adapt to various climates, while also providing the comforts of contemporary life such as heat, running water, and electricity.

Courtesy of Abeer SeikalyCourtesy of Abeer SeikalyCourtesy of Abeer SeikalyCourtesy of Abeer Seikaly+ 14

Barberio Colella ARC Designs Pop-Up Home to Rebuild Nepalese Lives in "Just a Minute"

Disaster can strike a community at any minute. Following the most costly earthquake in their history in April, hundreds of thousands of Nepalese residents were rendered instantly homeless. To help these people reorganize and get back to a familiar way of life, Barberio Colella ARC has designed a temporary structure using local materials “to make a house that can be built quickly, lightweight and compactly, durably and economically.”

Courtesy of Barberio Colella ARCDeployment System. Image Courtesy of Barberio Colella ARCCourtesy of Barberio Colella ARCComponents. Image Courtesy of Barberio Colella ARC+ 8

Media Round-Up: Hurricane Katrina, 10 Years On

Today marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, setting off what was among the most significant catastrophes to strike the United States in the 21st Century. New Orleans' flood defenses failed, causing the loss of over 1,400 lives and billions of dollars in property damage.

Naturally, such a disaster takes some time to recover from, for individuals but also for a city as a whole, and so for the past decade New Orleans has been a case study for cities to show them how to recover, rebuild and move on - at certain times serving as both an example of good practice and a warning of "what not to do." On the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, here's a round-up of stories about the rebuilding of a city from around the web.