The ideal world that we Architects attempt to live in has now be replaced with the surreal world of catastrophic events. The onslaught of these natural disasters and how quickly they have lined up one after the other make it difficult to comprehend the true magnitude of each event. The suffering of each community is overlooked due to additional hurricanes, fires or earthquakes. We will not understand the magnitude of these series of events for some time.
We must remember in our busy sunny day-to-day that our community is global and not just southwestern. The built environment is forever growing as population will never decrease. What we were told to build as sustainable now must be built as sustainable and resilient. After a disaster, we seek shelter. After shelter, we seek a reconnection to community. After reconnection then comes the struggle to rebuild.
Eric Cesal, Assoc. AIA, presented at the TXA Convention in 2016. His emphasis is rebuilding communities that were subject to what he calls “un-natural disasters”; most notably Haiti and New Orleans. The disasters are un-natural because the chain of events that the natural phenomena create are impossible to predict. More than building “resilient” cities he recommends building “healthy” cities. We will not be able to resist un-natural disasters but if our city is healthy then it will recover quicker.
What we build in our city not only impacts our arid climate but the whole world. We need to work with our municipality to develop healthy ideas for our city. The built environment needs to be low impact but also resistive to natural disaster. At times of disaster we should not flock to our old buildings because they were built better; we should run to new construction because it should be more resistive and does not solely rely on utilities infrastructure to function.
In your design, if you are simply doing what was done before; or if you are just doing what the client wants, then you are part of the problem. Architects need to do more. You were blessed with that ability to create and be creative. Use those gifts. Eric Cesal – “Do not wait for disaster to start working on disaster.”
Peace and strength to those battling disaster,
Rene Melendez AIA
AIA El Paso - President