CRISIS > a condition of instability or danger, as in social, economic, environmental, political, or international affairs, leading to a decisive change

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Research Brief

The resulting devastation of Katrina in the United States last year forced thousands to flee their homes and scavenge for new shelters and were often set up in a temporary-becoming-permanent form of RV camps or other mobile, manufactured housing models. This was a "design solution" for tackling the crisis at hand. However, the majority of the world's population does not have access to the same wealth of goods and infrastructure that made this relief solution possible in the United States [though it still easily argued that it was poorly managed in a time of desperate time and need of crisis.] How can architects, designers, and aid workers continue to develop and improve on facilities and shelters that are erected in response to humanitarian needs and emergencies? How can a devastated or non-existent infrastructure be bypassed in sending "building materials" to affected areas in need? How can the local materials and knowledge base be used to create an advantage for erecting suitable relief structures? How can designers consider the temporary nature of relief structures as well as their potential for a prolonged permanency? What has been working, and what has not been working? Is it possible for one design solution to be successful in different climates and regions, factoring in different local materials and conditions? Is it possible for countries to eventually provide these solutions and supplies themselves, instead of them being forced to rely on aid from industrialized nations?

For this semester's directed study, I would like to examine progressive applications and techniques in designing shelter and relief facilities in the setting of underdeveloped or impoverished regions of the world, especially in realm of prolonged humanitarian need and natural disaster crises. A general and preliminary outline includes:

History/Past trends/Current trends/Future trends

Success/Failure of Design solutions
Success/Failure of delivery and execution
To the Design Community: Design philosophy and professional obligation/responsibility

Is there possibility for Poetry while addressing the immediate needs?

Natural disasters

Hurricanes in the Caribbean and Latin America
Tsunamis in SE Asia
Earthquakes in central Asia

Humanitarian crisis - Prolonged civil conflict OR drought/famine producing refugees and other displaced peoples

Northern Uganda and the LRA conflict
MegaSlums, as affecting the personal welfare and health of its dwellers
Latin America
Suweto - Johanesburg, ZA

Materials + Methods

Earthen construction
Paper construction
Possibilities with Plastics
Possibilities with digital manufacturing processes

Other material+methods trends

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