Every year, more than 200 million people are affected by natural hazards, and the risks are increasing, especially in developing countries, where a single major disaster can set back healthy economic growth for years.
This is why disaster risk reduction is so essential. The importance of securing and maintaining a safe built environment has also been emphasized during the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai (WCDRR 2015).
In many, especially developing, countries, there are a lot of non-engineered constructions, which are extremely vulnerable in the face of natural hazards. Non-engineered buildings are those which are spontaneously and informally constructed in various countries in the traditional manner without any or little intervention by qualified architects and engineers in their design. The major losses from disasters caused by natural hazards are in non-engineered construction.
Therefore, this session will focus upon building resilience of non-engineered construction. In this session, invited practitioners from key agencies and from industry, will share their knowledge and experience in terms of success or failure of policy settings, guideline development, the necessity of supportive DRR legal frameworks, technical standards training and dissemination and highlighting lessons from recent devastating disasters.
The session will encourage discussion and exchange knowledge on the quality of national design and construction, instigated through the availability of technical tools and capacity, land use planning and the usage of indigenous materials and designs.
Building Codes as Part of the Regulatory Settings to Ensure a More Resilient Built Environment
Resilience is a state of being. It is something we strive for and should be an ongoing objective in all development. However, in order to achieve resilience, we need to adopt a holistic risk based approach in the way we design and construct the built environment.
When thinking about infrastructure the focus tends to be on the assets themselves. What is often missed is the view that infrastructure should be viewed as a system made up of assets, knowledge and institutions. The knowledge and institutions makes up what we call the capacity of the infrastructure system.
There is a perception that building codes and application or enforcement of buildings codes will ensure that the assets are resilient. Building codes are just one small piece of the regulatory environment that covers the built environment. We cannot view building codes in isolation. Building codes on their own are nothing more than words on paper.
If we consider the use, application and adherence to building codes there are a number of dimensions to consider: (1) societal – what is the societies attitude towards regulation and adherence to regulations? (2) economic – what is the role of financial institutions in application of building codes? and (3) the role of the Engineer in the society.
If we are to ensure a more resilient built environment we have to ensure that we reduce as much risk as possible in the design, construction, operation, maintenance and disposal of infrastructure assets if we want to achieve resilient outcomes.
Identification of Missing Rings to Resilient Built Environment - Learning from Recent Earthquakes
Natural disasters cause serious damage to human society again and again. Among the natural disasters earthquakes are one of the most critical one as they killed a large number of people. The major cause of casualties is collapse of buildings and houses. Even though the community of earthquake engineering has created seismic design code and governments have enacted legal scheme of building regulation in most of countries, recent earthquakes still causes serious damage.
What are missing rings to lead to resilient built environment? The presenter conducted surveys on damaged buildings and interviewed relevant people in the affected areas by the Bohol Earthquake 2013 in the Philippines and the Gorkha Earthquake 2015 in Nepal. The damage to reinforced concrete buildings by the Bohol Earthquake is characterized by 1) huge damage in non-structural members like cladding walls and ceiling boards, 2) damage by improper construction works caused by lack of communication among designers and engineers/foremen on site, 3) damage by poor workmanship and low-quality materials, and improper designs as well. These damage and interviews revealed several missing rings which hinder mitigation of damage.
The Gorkha Earthquake killed more than 6,000 people mostly by destruction of non-engineered houses in rural areas such as masonry with natural stone and mud mortar. This highlighted vulnerable non-engineered houses in developing countries, which is another big missing ring. Based on the surveys, the missing rings are identified and approaches to prepare the rings are proposed, which are very difficult but needed to be tackled.
A Holistic Approach Towards International Disaster Resilient Architecture by Learning from Vernacular Architecture
Most human and economic losses caused by natural hazards occur because of failure of construction. The major losses from these disasters are in non-engineered construction.
Non-engineered construction can be categorized in 2 types. On one hand, there is the vernacular architecture that is adapted to local context and made with local materials. Its construction techniques are passed on from generation to generation. This architecture is mostly resilient to the local natural hazards. Moreover, vernacular architecture is culturally connected to its surroundings. Traditional settlements are developed in harmony with their cultural and social environment and therefore foster social resilience to natural disasters. On the other hand, there is also non-engineered construction that is made with (partly) imported materials, often by using ‘foreign’ techniques. This construction is often copied from other countries but not adapted to the local situation because it is considered to be ‘modern’ or because donors may implement local construction projects following the knowledge and practices from their own country. Due to the lack of technical know-how, appropriate materials, accurate monitoring and concrete building regulations, this construction might be highly vulnerable to natural hazards.
The traditional knowledge of vernacular architecture comprises many characteristics that can be applied in contemporary construction due to upgrading or adapting it to the modern needs by using science, technology and innovation. To increase the number of resilient buildings, the remarkable features from vernacular architecture may contribute in governing and assuring disaster resilient construction technology. Moreover, such construction would be more economically and culturally sound through reflection of local customs and traditions and by using local materials.
Therefore, UNESCO aims to raise awareness, stimulate research, facilitate policy setting, foster collaboration and exchange knowledge about the significant value of vernacular construction and the important role of architecture to create a disaster resilient environment.
Architecture as a Catalyst for Sustainable Development
Studio Anna Heringer, UNESCO Chair for Earthen Architecture, Constructive Cultures and Sustainable Development, Germany
It is one of the most important skills of human kind to be able to build architecture out of the local natural resources. This skill is still alive in many parts of the world – where it is a necessity. Some societies have lost this.
Approximately 3 billion people are living in mud houses.
In 2010, 11 and 12 – within 3 years China has consumed more cement than the United States within the last century. Before, most of these people living in these concrete blocks were living in houses made of natural, local materials. This trend is happening all over the world.
And we all know that we need alternatives to host 7 billion people on this planet.
The main challenge of our generation of architects and the coming generations will be to build safe and good homes in a way that it doesn’t exploit our planet`s natural resources, that it fosters a social and economic justice and enhances a cultural diversity.
There is a global strategy possible for sustainable architecture. Building with more natural materials and with more people, with more human labour and craftsmanship involved, would make our planet healthier in terms of ecological systems and more fair in terms of economic systems. Architecture can be an economic catalyst for a sustainable development. Furthermore, our cities would be more humane and beautiful.