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January 10, 2005

Design and disaster (cont.)

Many architects are eager to help with post-tsunami rebuilding in Asia, but "now's not the time for them to switch off their computers and rush for the next flight to Indonesia or Sri Lanka. They'd have little to offer, and would be just more mouths to feed. My advice to them is to study, to learn the skills that will make their contribution truly useful when diasaster strikes in the future." So counsels Architecture for Humanity's Cameron Sinclair in a story by Jonathan Glancey in today's Guardian . Zygi Lubkowski, the Ove Arup engineer and chairman of the Society of Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics, says in the story that there is a place for sophisticated new design and technology - but only when and where local traditions and ways of building and living cannot be readily adapted to cope with future emergencies."We need to plan ahead to make places that are both safe and special", he tells Glancey; this means "working humbly with local people wherever we are wanted or can help, but not imposing fashionable design ideas". Appropriate design knowledge is embodied (in people) and situated (in a context): this has to be one of our reference points when we discuss, at Doors 8, the kind of infrastructures we need to enable the timely sharing of design knowledge.

Posted by John Thackara at January 10, 2005 07:26 AM


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