Disaster Relief Architecture

When you hear about people being killed in an earthquake, rarely is it the earthquake that actually kills them but rather it being the building that came crashing down on them.  Likewise during other natural disasters it’s the building that lacks the necessary devices to protect its inhabitants.

Of course there are some disasters that are not predictable (meteors, angry mobs, Japanese anime robots promoting sustainability).  But there are those disasters that repeatedly occur in the same location, such as hurricanes in the southeastern states, tornadoes in the Midwest, and earthquakes on the west coast.  And it’s in these locations that the architecture should provide a means for protection.

The Make It Right Foundation (Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans) website has a page showing some of the protective attributes for protecting homes from future hurricanes.  The protective measures listed on this page include things that protect the inhabitants, things that provide a means of escape, and items that promote the natural state of the local environment.

We (everyone involved with the design and construction of buildings) have fallen prey to sticking with doing things the way they’ve always been done, and approaching every project with this same strategy no matter the site.  In many cases architectural fashion has become a substitute for how a building can effectively react to the local environmental conditions (including those predictable disasters).  Why else do homes in Florida lack shutters for all of the windows?

There is no all-encompassing architectural style that can react to all conditions for every locale.  The Make It Right list of protective items can definitely be used in other locations other than the Gulf Coast.

What good is architecture if it can’t protect the people inside?

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