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Resilience in the Future of Architecture

Urban infrastructures that serve Belfast are under threat. The sustenance of the city relies on the likes of roads, bridges, railways, undergrounds, airports, power stations, water and wastewater treatment plants, sewage systems and telecommunication networks. Due to global climate change and human activities in recent years, many urban areas around the world are facing enormous challenges from natural and man-made disasters, like floods, earthquakes and terrorist attacks. For this reason, vulnerability and resilience of urban infrastructures to disasters have attracted increased attention from researchers and practitioners. Existing studies solely focus on one particular type of disaster or urban infrastructure, and there is a lack of holistic considerations for the analysis of vulnerability and resilience. My research attempts to bridge the knowledge gap.
The aspiration of this research is to explore urban infrastructures and disasters in a widespread way through firstly developing an assessment framework for the vulnerability of urban infrastructures to disasters and then cultivate an optimisation model for their resilience. This blog will be a tool to put my record my ideas and thoughts. It is hoped that the results of my research can provide decision makers with a valuable guide for the improvement of sustainable performance of urban infrastructure.



thoughts and ideas

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Today an article was published in The Independent (UK) to express concern over growing tensions among teens and young people who fear the apocalypse is on the horizon. The term ‘eco-anxiety’ can be explained as having a fear of the inevitable ecological disasters that will arise due to climate change. As a twenty-something architect in Northern Ireland, I can undoubtedly empathise. Studies for my PhD prove that constant research in the topic creates overwhelming asphyxiational symptoms. 

Is this panic positive? The bottom-up movement of climate activism has proved it’s the only way to get shit done. As Greta herself said “Adults keep saying, we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope, I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic” 

An extract from the article:

“A growing number of children are being affected by eco-anxiety – concern about ecological disasters – new research suggests. In order to find out more about how children feel about climate changeBBC Newsround conducted a survey of 2,000 eight to 16-year-olds. The poll showed that young people are feeling frustrated and anxious about the state of the planet with 80 per cent saying the problem of climate change was important to them, and more than a third saying it was very important.”




Why are we not doing anything? A question that sends alarm bells ringing in my head any time I think of it. We know what is coming and yet continue do consume and act the same way. We are more than likely headed for more than 4°C warming. Possibly even 6°C. The way I see it, the world will simply not be liveable, sea level rise, extreme weather events, methane release from arctic permafrost… you’ve heard it all before. 

Is it bad timing? We’re only really getting back on our feet from the global crash in 2007. Or maybe it’s due to the difficulty on getting governments to agree on anything? Perhaps the lack of technological solutions? Laziness? Ignorance? An attitude of ‘We’ve blown it anyway.. enjoy the ride!’

Nope. Capitalism and the need to keep the 1% where they are.  

Rather than get into that, let’s skip to the positive part. What can you do?

‘Meat-Free Mondays’. This isn’t about you joining a cult with ‘them vegans’ and hugging a tree. This is about you saving the planet – so leave the meat one day a week. Even switching one meal a week would make a significant impact. If cattle had their own country, they would be the world's third largest emitter of GHG, after China and USA.

Fly less. As someone who loves travel, this is by far the hardest one to cut down, but unfortunately one of the most important. Planes run on fossil fuels… simples!

Have a skim of “How bad are bananas?” by Mike Berners- Lee (2010) to check the carbon footprint of your daily actions. For example, did you know you are responsible for half the co2 emissions when you use a paper towel to dry your hands as opposed to a standard electric drier? Such a small swap and such a huge difference. 

The most important is being aware. Are you really going to keep that dress from Asos or are you going to send it back? Should you choose that plastic bag of apples or the loose apples beside them? Could you take the train to work instead of the car sometimes? Think before you consume. 

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Image: The Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus Bosch

The proof is piling up, carbon emissions seem to be reducing due to COVID-19. The sense of urgency has promoted dramatic behavioural changes all around the world, including in China - the highest emitting country of CO2. In an article this week, Carbon Brief released data to show that China’s CO2 emissions have reduced by a quarter since the epidemic began. 

Could this lead to the first fall in global emissions since the 2008 financial crisis? Not only that, this unintentional experiment could act as precedent for future plans to combat our crisis. Of course, it would be naive to assume that this rapidly growing virus will single-handedly reduce the outcome of climate change. There is an argument that the results of this pandemic will deter political attention and funding, at a point where action is crucial. With the stock market crash on 9th March coined as ‘Black Monday’, during a seeming healthy economy, it may be a while before the lasting consequences can be probed. 

It is however, promising to see that in a time of crisis homo sapiens can act. Our habits of consumption over the next while will be scrutinised in detail, and the cog of constant ‘production of things’ will slow. Trend forecaster Li Edelkoort is convinced current events will offer us a new beginning, as she stated in a recent interview “I think we should be very grateful for the virus because it might be the reason we survive as a species”. She went on to say her heart went out to the families targeted by the new illness, and that she “hoped they did not die in vain as the world will strive to resurrect human dignity and survival”. 

It is very apocalyptic. My whole Master’s thesis looked at the apocalypse, climate change and our built environment, and how all the predictions and science from the last century are actually something of immemorial antiquity. In this project, I talked about how my initial interpretation was that ‘apocalypse’means ‘the end of time’, however when dissecting the term I realised it doesn’t mean the end - it is a synonym for revelation. An extract below:

“I believe the apocalypse in Belfast will cause a new way of thinking for society and the built environment. It will force us into radically thinking and challenging the norms. It will make us renew political organisations. Climate change will force the hand of moving forward.” 

Don’t even get me started on the locusts. 

Read some post-outbreak statistics from China:

  • Coal consumption at power plants was down 36%

  • Operating rates for main steel products were down by more than 15%, while crude steel production was almost unchanged

  • Coal throughput at the largest coal port fell 29%

  • Coking plant utilization fell 23%

  • Satellite-based NO2 levels were 37% lower

  • Utilization of oil refining capacity was lowered by 34%

  • At their peak, flight cancellations were reducing global passenger aviation volumes by 10%, but the sector appears to be recovering, with global capacity down 5% on year in February as a whole.