Building Urban Resilience: Principles, Tools, and Practice (Directions in Development)

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Interestingly, the game seemed to transcend political red tape, allowing people to consider flooding and urban resilience without the backdrop of the sometimes charged political considerations that happen in Thailand. In action: The Urban Resilience workshop, June The appeal for planners is evident. The game opens a platform for people to discuss complex issues in an informal way.

Instead of being confined by the structure and convention of a meeting or conference, participants can let their guard down and engage with the material in a new way. More importantly, the subject matter becomes accessible to people with no prior experience.


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In the guise of explaining the rules and aim of the game, facilitators are actually presenting the basic information for people to understand the core ideas of urban resilience. Yet all of this remains unthreatening; at the end of the day, it is only a game. The players are then pushed to really think about the issues, and see the connection between investments in infrastructure and cooperation with other regions, and achieving urban resilience. Their output is then fed back to the CCaR team and Openspace, who collect the documented actions that players took during the flood round.

This is crucial, as it allows for a feedback loop into the research in a very direct way. In the next months, more workshops will be organised. Moreover, Dr Marome and Thammasat University plan to train members of the public to be facilitators, allowing for greater exposure, perhaps even spilling to other Thai cities in the North. They are also working on having a workshop with urban policy planners from across Asia to play the game.

The possibilities are endless, because who would not like to come play with us? London: Penguin Books. The Atlantic. July-August London: W. The Times, May Colten, R. Kates, and S. Flood, Storm and Landslide Situation Report. All images taken by Nausica Castanas. Tags: attention span , climate change , communication , environmental protection , flood management , game , health , housing , Lagos , Manila and Bangkok , Openspace , policy , Research , social cohesion , socio-economic , Thailand , urban resilience , Vancouver , waste management.

How can we, in these circumstances, imagine a unified vision to take care of each other? Although the built environment has a way of reinforcing social divisions, whether through gender-specific bathrooms or communities ghettoised by gentrification, it can also host spaces that inspire solidary over status, and spaces that actively embrace the most excluded people of our societies.

Today, pockets of planners and architects work to promote a less socially divided world, and some of them are doing it through universal design. Often presumed as design for people with disabilities, universal design actually embraces a much broader definition. The term was coined by Ronald L. Mace, an American architect who at age nine contracted polio, became a wheelchair user, and in his twenties had to be carried up and down the stairs at university.

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His legacy not only etched a space of dialogue for disability discrimination but also raised the question of what constitutes social norms to a new height. Young Ronald L. Mace source ; Mace later in life as an architect source. The strength in universal design is that it simply acknowledges human diversity.

With no technical guidelines, it serves as a new reference point for practitioners, informed by anthropological understanding — sort of like a social justice challenge. Using participatory approaches channelled through the comforts of informality, they create spaces attentive to the often overlooked needs of elderly people and people with disabilities, who live on low-incomes or in poverty. The studio is run by a small group of community architects who are in their mid-twenties to early thirties.

They represent a new generation of practitioners building urban resilience through inclusive design—both in product and process. Building codes unquestionably play a role in keeping our societies safe, but like with anything institutionalised they can be restrictive to the ever-changing contexts. Tar-Saeng Studio chooses to carry out their work—safely and strategically—whether it adheres to the legal systems or not, for they do it to solve problems, not to abide by the confines that sustain problems.

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Tar-Saeng Studio works with vulnerable populations to provide living environments suited to their needs. Photo: Openspace.

In , about 7. The goal was to create a space in which they can socialise, exercise, and spend time in. More importantly, a space where they can connect with each other and lead healthier lives, and where the inherent vulnerabilities from unwanted isolation can dissipate over time. Openspace worked side by side with the local people, like a true partnership. Using low-cost materials like discarded bamboo and motorcycle tyres from nearby shops, they made an area consisting of benches at varying heights, a hanging garden, and an exercise station—it was modest, useful, beautiful.

The benches aimed to connect the elderly with the children; the hanging garden had attached platforms for stretching legs; the exercise station held removable weights made of stones stored in bamboo.

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Equally as valuable were the skills gained and relationships reinforced within the community, and perhaps a proud sense of ownership to something they collectively brought to life. A few months later came the floods during which the structures were destroyed. Ploy heard that after the water subsided, the community rebuilt the space.

Eager to pursue universal design with greater commitment, Openspace partnered with the Institute of Health Promotion for People with Disability , a government entity, on a four-month project involving seventeen people with disabilities living in underprivileged conditions. This is the reality; affordability should be integral to accessibility but disability-focused design can be expensive, leaving out those who are poor.

Openspace visited the seventeen people across two provinces. It includes people with cerebral palsy, paraplegia, hemiplegia, deafness, blindness, and mobility difficulties from diabetes. It was constructed from bamboo, rubber tyres and concrete. Photos: Openspace.

Contributions of green infrastructure to enhancing urban resilience

What Ploy grasped at the end of the four months was the dismally isolated nature of these cases. These were just seventeen of 2 million people with disabilities in Thailand, who happened to be among the poorest populations, divorced from public assistance. There was no space in which they can support each other, no platform on which they can be heard, and no signs of progress towards their inclusivity.

A process of building together, and taking care of each other, would be better. At this point, in , Ploy set up Tar-Saeng Studio, a private entity detached from government organisations—detached from politics , a precarious area of discussion in Thailand—aimed to mainstream universal design into Thai society. Through Tar-Saeng Studio, Ploy would advocate for the inclusion of vulnerable populations to built environment practices.

Trying to convince poorer communities to embrace universal design principles has been tough. Since then, Tar-Saeng Studio has undertaken a series of projects ranging from low-cost furniture making to hospital design. Their outputs are always based on inclusive design principles, and their processes on participatory empowerment. Tar-Saeng Studio holding a community workshop in Ching Rai on universal design for public space. Photo: Tar-Saeng Studio. The floods of brought great devastation across Thailand.

People lost their homes, they felt desperate, they wanted answers. This triggered a well-needed public dialogue on urban resilience and climate change adaptation; like a newcomer experiencing culture shock, Thailand had struggled to cope with these new waves of events and adapt to a new language through which to understand them. So this was a good step.

People are aging, losing abilities, living in poverty, and some need particular types of assistance. The fluctuating climate is also adding to these stresses. Their next goal is to demonstrate that these grassroots activities can be scaled-up to the regional and national levels.

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I guess universal design is like a head-to-toe winter outfit that you modify according to the weather that day. You just need to check the forecast to make the best decision. What is Universal Design. Ronald L. Thailand: Overview. Aging population in Thailand. Aging in Thailand — Addressing unmet health needs of the elderly. People with Disabilities — Thailand Country Profile [draft report ]. Chicago: Aon Corporation, p. What is Urban Resilience?

Tags: ACHR , Bangkok , CAN , climate change adaptation , community , design , disability , ecosystem balance , empowerment , governance , Openspace , participatory methodologies , participatory research , physical infrastructure , social capacity , Social diversity , social services , Thailand , Universal design , urban resilience. The cLIMA sin Riesgo research project in Lima, Peru, adopts participatory mapping as a means to gather quantitative and qualitative information to capture varying degrees of natural and man-made conditions of vulnerability that affect women and men living in the center and in the periphery of the city.

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The process is designed to open up dialogue between various stakeholders, with the aim of informing the design of interventions that prevent and reduce risks. To better understand the everyday risks that inhabitants of the two case study sites are exposed to, we spatialise our inquiry capturing how these risks are distributed and where they accumulate in space Figure 1.

This is a necessary step in identifying how, and where, risk traps need to be disrupted. Preliminary findings suggest that actions taken in one place to mitigate risk may, in effect, externalise the risk to other locations. Hence mapping to make visible the interdependencies that constitute and shape a given territory becomes a vital step in our enquiry, particularly as we seek to devise solutions for an integrated, and co-produced planning. Figure 1. Drone image of Barrios Altos used to identify residential plots, cultural heritage buildings and other uses such as storage, which is defacing the historic centre.

Photo: Rita Lambert. Therefore the analysis is undertaken at various scales. The impact of such changes is noted as some households undertake improvement works and in doing so, move away from the traditional one storey structure made of adobe, replacing it with multi-storey brick and concrete buildings. As the structural integrity of the buildings are weakened due to the disparate materials used, the residents are differentially exposed to risk.

Besides the increased physical risks that such practices bring, the weakened collective action and organisation also increases the vulnerability of residents to land trafficking activities. Figure 2.

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