Rebuild or Redesign

Tao Huang,Eric Anderson
Columbia College Chicago, Resilient Design Studio


Tao Huang, PhD, Columbia College Chicago
Eric Anderson, PG, Resilient Design Studio

Hurricane Sandy showed the world just how vulnerable our great cities are to natural phenomena intensified by climate change. Midwest America faces its own climate-change hazards, killer tornadoes. The dramatic increase in the number, intensity and damage associated with tornadoes and the expansion and northward shift in the area affected has placed major metropolitan areas such as Chicago and its surrounding communities at risk. Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes strike with very little warning – making proactive design the main protective option. Given this scenario, doing nothing and allowing our communities to be built up in a business as usual fashion invites disaster. Likewise, in the wake of a disaster, simply rebuilding what was there the same way as it was before merely sets the stage for an even greater future disaster. We believe that a cultural shift in the public mindset is a pre-requisite for any real adaptive change. We also believe that the design community is ideally positioned to expedite this cultural shift by facilitating the development of safer disaster-resilient communities. We can do it by doing what we do best, creating innovative solutions to society’s problems. To prevent future climate-change catastrophes, we need to start generating examples of viable alternatives now and we need to get our designs off of our drawing boards and out into the community as fast as possible so that people can see and experience the advantages for themselves. This paper presents a framework and outlines a process that a designer can use to do just that. It helps designers to identify and target specific design vulnerabilities and to develop disruptive innovations to reduce or eliminate these vulnerabilities or turn them into assets. To jump start the creative process, the authors suggest that crowd-sourcing technology can be used as the design platform.