RCHI’s Vale and Lamb prepare book chapter on Resilient Urban Design and present insights at Urban Affairs Association Conference (Toronto)

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Image: The Benthemplein Water Square in Rotterdam serves as a prime example of resilient urban design. Photo credit: Zachary Lamb

(April 2018) Exciting news for the RCHI team as RCHI’s Zachary Lamb and Lawrence Vale co-authored a paper set to be published as a chapter in a sequel to the Routledge Companion to Urban Design. In their paper, “Resilient Urban Design: Shaping the Spatial Politics of Risk in a Crisis-Prone World,” Lamb and Vale consider how urban resilient design can create spaces that are more just and environmentally sound. Vale presented the paper at the 2018 Urban Affairs Association conference in Toronto, Canada in a session on “Green Infrastructures, Urban Design and Resilience.”

At the same conference, Lamb was invited to moderate another panel on “The Spatial Politics of Urban Flood Resilience,” in which he also presented work from his dissertation: “The Design-Politics of Urban Flooding from Levee-Enabled Growth to Climate-Adaptive Resilience.” Additional panel participants included Billy Fleming (University of Pennsylvania), Michael Wilson (MIT), and Traci Birch (Louisiana State University).

Stay tuned for updates regarding Lamb and Vales publication date, and see the abstract below for additional insights:

Abstract: “Resilient Urban Design: Shaping the Spatial Politics of Risk in a Crisis-Prone World,”

This chapter addresses two related questions: Can urban design provide a domain for concrete projects, processes, and practices that ground resilience, creating urban places that are more just and environmentally sound? And similarly, can a refined focus on resilience allow scholars and practitioners of urban design to synthesize social, ecological, and aesthetic analysis through disciplinary practices that are more flexible and more attuned to the concerns of the most vulnerable members of urban societies? 

In addressing these questions, the chapter outlines parallel ‘green’ and ‘gray’ traditions of ‘resilience’ and ‘urban design,’ and draws examples from emblematic projects in cities of the Global North and South, focusing on three river delta cities: New Orleans, Rotterdam, and Dhaka. We outline a series of principles intended to simultaneously ground resilience and refocus urban design on the creation of just and environmentally sound places. Resilient urban design, we conclude, entails 1) pursuing geophysical and social resilience simultaneously, 2) integrating protective infrastructure with the public space and built fabric of cities, 3) recognizing the varied and shifting positions of state and non-state actors in different settings, and 4) balancing the need for control and flexibility in the form and function of urban development.

Interested in learning more? Details about the Urban Affairs Conference and Zach’s presentation found here: https://2018uaaannualconference.sched.com/event/D3qP/th91005-the-spatial-politics-of-urban-flood-resilience

Questions about RCHI? Seeking to connect with an RCHI affiliate to speak at your conference? Contact us here: https://rchi.mit.edu/about/

About RCHI: The Resilient Cities Housing Initiative (RCHI), directed by Professor Lawrence Vale, explores the ways that shelter and settlements can be designed to anticipate and respond to the 21st century environmental and security challenges of an urbanized and urbanizing world. At its core, RCHI investigates the challenges of developing and redeveloping the housing environments of the least advantaged dwellers in a city-region.  RCHI supports integrated scholarship, cross-disciplinary curriculum development, and innovative practice that bring together housing design, housing policy, urban design, environmental and energy policy, real estate development, new media technologies, and the visual arts