Case Studies, 2014
1. Tacloban, Philippines
2. Ishinomaki, Japan
3. Vancouver, BC, Canada

 In my Master's Thesis in Architecture titled 'Resiliency and Reconstruction' I explored the topic of natural disasters and locally embedded resiliency which demonstrated three case studies of cities at different stages of the rebuilding and preparing cycle: the (2011) tsunami hit town of Ishinomaki Japan, and the (2013) typhoon torn city of Tacloban, Philippines, and finally Vancouver, Canada as a case on how to prepare for a high magnitude earthquake. Engaging with these communities gave me a good understanding of the importance of the theme of resiliency when tackling with urban challenges.

 

Tacloban, the Philippines 2014 © Milja Lindberg

ABSTRACT

Rapid urbanization coinciding with climate change and the increase in frequency and volatility of natural disasters has heightened the vulnerability of our communities and cities and has directed international attention to the theme of resiliency. This thesis begins by addressing the issue of natural disasters and asks why can some communities withstand natural disasters better and recover faster than others, and how can architecture better support communities to encounter a future disaster event?

This thesis consists of three parts. Part 1 presents the current timeline of post-disaster reconstruction cycle and pre-disaster mitigation actions. The cycle starts with a natural disaster. Though varied in intensity, destructiveness and type, all natural disaster can disrupt a city’s or a community’s ability to function in providing its inhabitants a safe and humane living environment. Phases followed immediately after a disaster are response and rescue, relief and shelter. Then starts the rehabilitation of the community. As a new disaster approaches, preparedness and mitigation actions can help cities and communities better respond when facing a disaster. The cycle is completed at the event of another natural disaster and the process of reconstruction begins again.

Over the course of spring 2014, I visited three cities, three countries with three distinctly different cultural and climatological contexts in the Pacific Region that are currently at different stages of the reconstruction cycle. The conducted case studies demonstrate how these cities deal with the challenges of the present as well as brings light tot their efforts in building towards a more resilient and safer future. The first case study is about Tacloban, Philippines devastated by typhoon Yolanda on the November 8th, 2013. Six months after the typhoon, temporary structures scattered around the city as well as the regrowth of vulnerable informal urban settlements along the coast pose a new threat as the surrounding environment is showing signs of stronger and more volatile storms. The second case study of the City of Ishinomaki, Japan will present the phases followed by the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 and the state of the city three years after the disaster. The 2011 disaster showed how a chain of disasters followed by an earthquake can effect susceptible modern societies and countries that are forerunners in disaster preparedness. The third case study presents Vancouver, Canada, a city expected to encounter a great magnitude earthquake anytime in the next 200 years. The possible future scenario of a high magnitude earthquake poses a complex series of threats to the City of Vancouver. Sixty percent of the city’s built mass predate the seismic building code and are categorized as high risk for structural failure. The estimated economic losses due to a disaster event in Vancouver would not only decrease the economic stability of the city but negatively effect the whole economy of Canada. Loss of livelihoods and jobs could result in out-migration of residents and shift the province to a long-term decline.

Part 3 of this thesis argues for a fundamental shift in the way architects design for disaster. I propose the idea of locally embedded resiliency which would make architectural preparedness methods immediately beneficial in the pre-disaster phase by implementing a dual program. The idea of locally embedded resiliency proposes a method that would address both pre-disaster needs and post-disaster needs of a vulnerable community with the implementation of a public building network of a new type of building, the nucleus, that provides a transitional program suitable for both pre- and post-disaster topias. To place these structures within a community, architects must identify the role of culture and the intangible social structures within the physical urban frame in order to grasp the essence of the community.