Document / Publication
Places: Forum for Design of the Public Realm - Climate Change and Place, Volume 20, Number 2, 2008
Humanitarian organizations, and the vulnerable communities they serve, are dealing today with the life-threatening consequences of poor design and planning. Climate change is not only taking place but also quite literally “taking places,” imposing more frequent and intense events such as floods, hurricanes, droughts, and heat waves on built environments and people that are not prepared to deal with them. Staff and volunteers working in disaster management are at the forefront of the current climate crisis, but the complex relationships between place and climate require that humanitarian organizations rethink the way they will work in the future. They must forge new partnerships that address the root causes of the problem: not just by reducing the emissions that result in global warming, but also by reversing the social construction of vulnerability.
This article is an invitation to architects and designers to collaborate with humanitarian organizations in promoting adaptation to climate change. From hazard-resistant residences and affordable flood shelters to disaster-resilient, inclusive urban planning policies, to public awareness campaigns or funding and design of reconstruction and relocation projects after catastrophic events, the humanitarian challenges brought by climate change can become a source of inspiration for those who shape urban places.