Catastrophy Sensitive Designing

Published for FFT

NOVEMBER 2016

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As the society is becoming increasingly sensitive and aware of their surroundings than it was ever before, the design and shape of buildings is getting influenced by this emerging recognition of compassion in our lives. The effects of climate change have invited more and more natural disasters, owing to the ever warming up globe, this trend takes us towards more violent and volatile weather which is apparently showing no signs of slowing down. In such crisis, empathy has flown in and filled up the entire box of inspirations for architects, from hurricanes to tsunamis and other natural disasters have made it not just advisable but necessary that we construct buildings that are strong enough to be able to withstand such emergencies.

Catastrophe Sensitive Design as it emerges as a huge trend, is not just a practical requisite anymore but the architects all across the globe are making sure it is also visually compelling.

There are two major forms the design is taking up, one being the aspect of disaster-proof homes that are thoroughly evaluated to withstand the setback and another form being focused on post-disaster relief constructions.

Almost 800 small quakes have been recorded in the last year in Japan, and the humanitarian architects are shifting design in such a way that assures people to feel secure in times of need.  An architect Kengo Kuma has reinforced an old building in Nomi, Japan, by wrapping it in noodle-like carbon fiber rods and making it safe against earthquakes.

The building is an office and lab for a textile manufacturer Komatsu Seiren decided to pioneer a new type of reinforcement and strengthen their old building rather than taking it down. The carbon rods not only solve a major problem but also are also interesting to look at, while not completely blocking the view securing the freedom of space and light as well.

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The idea is to minimize human suffering in the event of a natural disaster and valuing human life much more than ever also teaching community members techniques to rebuild homes with the goal of returning the area to its pre-disaster state.

This trend seems to have taken to design completely, as many countries have already made themselves disaster proof to a certain extent.  Portable post-disaster homes have been designed for consumers left stranded in South America post the disastrous floods, Tornado House which ducks into the ground to escape from the most violent winds, Coral Reef Project, in Haiti inspired by coral reefs is a concept that came up after the disastrous 2010 earthquake and Hurricane-Proof Dome House in Florida is a one-piece concrete with five miles of steel while Noah’s Ark is a floating hotel designed to endure seismic activities and rising sea levels.

All of these coming together are a true essence and reflection of the times- of people coming together to contribute to a greater whole- towards goodness and well-being, taking into consideration vital realities of life on earth that had previously gone unnoticed and overlooked.

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