- Article by Natalie Mortimer
For the first time in Australia, global disaster and humanitarian experts will explore how to provide appropriate design strategies for post-disaster communities during Humanitarian Architecture Week.
From 6-9 August a series of events will take place at RMIT’s School of Architecture and Urban Design, including workshops, lectures and exhibitions to discuss approaches to solve complex humanitarian issues.
Pakistan’s first female architect, and designer of disaster relief shelters, globally, Yasmeen Lari will be a key presenter during the week. “I often tell my colleagues, ‘let us not treat disaster-affected households as destitute, needing handouts. Rather let us give them due respect and treat them as we would a corporate-sector client,” she says.
In areas affected by Pakistan’s 2005 earthquake, she devised a bamboo shelter system which is cheap to build, and has a low-carbon footprint. Built with adobe-and mud walls and strong bamboo cross-bracing, all materials are available locally. Working with Architecture for Humanity, Nokia and the Swiss Pakistan Society, she has built nearly 2,000 sustainable shelter units, which she hopes will help promote and propagate green design in Pakistan.
During the 2010 floods in Pakistan, which affected 20 million people, she was inspired to build new, safe, waterproof homes – and has since built 36,000 shelters in the country.
Humanitarian Architecture Week’s director, RMIT’s Professor Esther Charlesworth says that the incidence of disasters at scale, both natural and man-made, are now commonplace and architects and designers are needed to help address these challenges.
“Consecutive crises such as the volcano in Hawaii, the displacement of the Rohinga, the famines in Sudan, and the war in Syria are now disrupting vulnerable communities and economies on a daily basis and yet the design profession are seldom found in the humanitarian space”, she said.
“We want to attract people with diverse skill sets such as engineering, design and health and teach them how design can be used as a strategic tool to address complex global challenges including poverty, natural disasters, civil conflict and climate change.
“We believe critical design thinking will equip future leaders in the field of disaster response and recovery to deal with the biggest ecological and man-made crises of our time.”
For more information and to register, go to www.masterdisasterdesigndevelopment.com