Urban movement and increasing density is a reality that we are presently facing; knowing this can be challenging to areas that cannot provide for population growth. Many areas that cannot support crowding presently suffer and with substantial impacts. The European migrant crisis (Eritrea, Syria, Afghanistan, Mali, Kosovo- the list goes on) is an appropriate precedent for personal understanding of compact communities and for potential design solutions. Not only are residents of Syria leaving a country where kin roots potentially go centuries deep, but forced migration continues to put strain on surrounding countries that do not have the infrastructure for growth. About 4.5 million people (and this is just documented refugees) are be moving to seek asylum, and plans in place were not created for that kind of change. In the course of a year, this has grown from a crisis to disaster; an entire country is being drained of its people. The unique problem with displacement the definition considered refugee roulette — there is no prescribed way to deal with the issue and its challenge is arbitrary. Forced migration and density is the epitome of ecological threats; a displacement crisis and climate change is the perfect storm. Examples such as sea level rise, more frequent natural disasters, and longer durations of dry seasons with persistent intense rainy seasons will create movement toward cities and inland density. A migrant crisis and climate change is the perfect storm, especially for delicate areas that are vulnerable when change occurs.
What has been brought to my attention through research conversation, personal ideologies, and thought experiments is that problems arise where there are little resources, and a suffocating economy of corrupt politics. These areas are geographically diverse and unique to a challenge; they can be coastal cities, areas of inequality, cities that are constantly being threatened with natural disasters, and creations of displacement. A lot of this is due to limited planning resources and few solutions, especially Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), which its sole aim is to relieve these communities.
Risk Reduction is important. It’s vital, valuable, uplifts general human rights, and creates the possibility for growth. In architecture, risk reduction doesn’t just look like management and planning; it looks like beauty, health, and emotional comfort. How can we, advanced technologies, systems and the digital begin to inform contextual solutions that cannot only be used for the problem at hand but also an appropriate system that are adaptable even when the situation changes? How can we foster accountability in a community to give them resources and expect consistent performance?
The beginning of a strategy for tackling the surface of this challenge is not only through architectural empathy but also explorative spatial creation. This dialogue can inform the use of technologies and analysis using networking tools, Human UI, Grasshopper applications, advanced material experimentation, analytics, construction methods, energy analysis, theory of spatial porosity, material creation — to understand what is possible. These can begin to look like water catchment and filtration systems, political density to find porosity, or better sanitation, etc. Finding economically resilient building blocks and affordable construction methods can aid in relief and prevention. These can begin to look like partnership proposals within the country that create educational components for a responsible community. At the end of the day, we as architects underestimate the power of people to create their own solutions. This can lie in the municipal, national, or neighborhood level that creates successful growth from necessity.
Being critical of our findings is a vital part of continuously asking questions in knowing that we are great at creating immediate solutions, but what is this doing when we address it as future resilience? Being preventative in our own data hoping that we are not creating a bigger disaster by helping. Overall, this is a creative solution to a huge problem, one that I know we will only reach a small percentage of. Having the opportunity to create a thoughtful proposal for what is possible and the freedom to potentially educate and research would be an honor.