In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the world turned to the design community, asking us to re-imagine the ways in which we build, in response to a world that was drastically evolving. Our coastal cities were simply not prepared for the widespread repercussions of climate change that we began to experience.
In 2013, we began working with Operation Resilient Long Island (ORLI), a grassroots non-profit organization determined to find better architectural and planning solutions for coastal cities that face the threat of flooding. ORLI hosted a design competition to re-imagine how housing and neighborhoods are designed to deal with the threat of flooding without compromising accessibility and neighborhood character. Our team put together a proposal entitled “Adaptive Urban Habitats” that went on to be selected as the winner, leading to collaboration with ORLI to explore the broad issue of “resiliency” and work on ongoing initiatives.
When a hurricane of Sandy’s magnitude occurred on home soil, in a developed nation such as the United States, people began to take notice. However, storms and catastrophic flooding have struck many underdeveloped areas of the globe that do not have the resources available to rebuild in the same way.
Citizens in underdeveloped coastal communities live under the constant threat of storm surges and sea level rise. In November 2013, a super-typhoon referred to as Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck the Philippines. It was the deadliest in the history of the country and one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded, anywhere. The damage and destruction of housing and infrastructure was extensive, raising further questions as to how structures can be designed and built to withstand storms while simultaneously integrating with the communities in which they stand.
A Rebuilding Effort
Operation Resilient Long Island, having witnessed the devastation of Sandy a year earlier, wanted to help in any way that they could. They quickly assembled a team, formed partnerships with other non-profit organizations in the Philippines, and sent members to conduct research into how they can put their design backgrounds to use in the rebuilding effort. Thus, ORLI had transformed into ORLI+, in this case ORLI + Philippines.
When ORLI + Philippines began their effort to build back a stronger Philippines, their goal was simple:
“Help construct a public space for the local Filipino people; A community hub grown by the local people; A resilient building designed and built as an example of a safe construction typology for the area; A safe haven for any emergency, for everyone.”
Mixed Paper Collaboration
To assist in developing the resilient framework, I will be travelling to the island of Siargao, Surigao del Norte, to collaborate with Austin Reed of ORLI + Philippines. I will attempt to absorb the local culture and develop a sense of place in a corner of the world we hope to better prepare for catastrophic climate events. The initial goal is to aid in the creation of the first zoning and flood maps of the island. This is the first step in ensuring a truly resilient coastal community, and we hope that cartographic documentation can be used as a way to inform the community and set guidelines for future development. In addition, we will be working with local governments and organizations to plan for the resilient community hub.
Be sure to check back with Field Notes for updates, maps, sketches, photography, and videos of our efforts in the Philippines in the coming weeks!