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Future proof: envisioning Asian cities in a climate change-impacted world

Source(s):  Tatler

By Christopher DeWolf


It was yet another disaster in a terrible year for the Asia-Pacific region. Australia was ravaged by monster wildfires that wiped out unprecedented amounts of forest, farmland and housing. India suffered record-breaking summer heat, with temperatures reaching close to 50C, as experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology warned that parts of the country were becoming “too hot to be inhabitable”. When the heat finally broke, Delhi and other parts of the country were blanketed in smog so toxic it was like being in a “gas chamber”, in the words of the city’s chief minister.

This year hasn’t been any better, thanks to the Covid-19 coronavirus that has ravaged the city of Wuhan and spread to every continent except Antarctica. The future looks difficult indeed, but most places in Asia aren’t doing much to prepare for whatever calamity happens next.

“I think only those major cities in Asian developed countries have done some preparations,” says Ren Chao, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong who studies sustainable urban design. “The rest, especially those in less-developed countries under fast urbanisation, may not put such things on their city development and management agenda.” Ren is echoed by researchers from SEI Asia, an environmental think tank, who wrote last year that Asian cities are “mired in policy inertia when it comes to climate action”.

But there is plenty that can be done. “Architecture is not just the result of response to climate, yet in places where the climate is severe, this is an important role that must be acknowledged,” says Australian architect Carol Marra, who has studied climate-resilient architecture in Asia.


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  • Publication date 15 Apr 2020

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