The session “From Regulations to Self-building” encompassed the idea of bridging academic concepts with practice through the use of policy as a framework for urban resilience. The five presentations focused on a range of regulations—municipal policies and humanitarian policies that respond to disasters.
In order to reframe urban resilience, each presentation confronted the tensions between an idealized version of resilience and the trade-offs encountered by its implementation through regulations. The main tensions discussed were top-down policies juxtaposed with the knowledge of local people, the market’s viability compared to the economic stability of the people, and the experts’ plans that are implemented by the people. Yet, the goals of these policies to reinforce true urban resilience fell short according to the different case studies. The tensions that exist between the top-down approach of regulations and the bottom-up approach of self-building were explored through the lens of resilience as a balance between the two approaches.
So what is the end goal of urban resilience in the context of regulations and self-building? The need for coordination between top-down and bottom-up strategies is imperative to create realistic plans and to utilize the strengths of both the experts and the community. Regulations that are not flexible or continually revisited in light of new information may impede resilience in the long-term. Policy makers and experts must be willing to examine the impacts of a policy through the input of those living with or implementing those policies. Investing in resilience during times of ‘peace’—which means evaluating the effects of policies at multiple scales—reduces the temptation to fall back to less resilient responses when tensions are high after a disaster. These presentations embodied that same outlook towards reframing resilience by concluding with more questions and proceeding with further research.
Walker Toma’s presentation about “Resilient Affordable Housing Strategies,” centered on the approach to urban resilience through the key stress of affordable housing and subsequent stresses of gentrification and displacement exclusion. Specifically, he is researching the effects of the Inclusionary Housing Policy that is intended to provide more affordable housing. This is a priority for the city council, but upcoming elections in May 2019 could impact the future of this policy’s implementation. Barcelona’s housing policies for 2018-2023 sets ambitious targets for €650 million towards affordable housing production. This estimate is based on the Inclusionary Housing policy to require 30 percent of all new development and significant renovations to be social/affordable housing units. Toma approaches research on this policy through the following questions: “Will the policy be effective in achieving stated policy goals?” and “Can the policy better reflect contextual realities?”
He compared Barcelona’s neighborhoods to find those with high rent to income ratios and those with new development projects over the past three years. Using these neighborhoods, Toma will develop a pro forma model to see if the market can absorb the cost of policy-required social housing units. Literature and other case studies show that similar policies have little impact to a city’s overall housing prices. Toma asserts that policies need to be flexible, to have contextual sensitivity, and to provide a regional approach that effectively creates urban resilience through affordable housing.
In Irene Bianchi’s presentation about “Deconstructing Urban Flood Resilience Building,” she questions whether or not a city and its citizens build capacity to mitigate flood risks as they recover from recurring flood events. Bianchi asks if these events are used as “learning opportunities.” Beginning with a review of resilience among the social domain, she discussed the tensions of and the approaches to flood risk management. Her definitions of resilience included the following:
- Resilience is not revealed, but created through practice.
- Resilience is co-produced through formal and informal actor networks.
- Resilience makes use of local knowledge.
- Resilience is interconnected between social and policy learning processes.
Despite gaps between the idealized principles of resilience and the practice of those principles in the public realm, Bianchi analyzes the post-flood reorganization process through the lens of four European flood-prone cities—Genoa, Hull, Leeds, and Milan. She focused on Hull, UK while analyses on the other cities are forthcoming. Through the mapping of flood-risk oriented activities at different scales—neighborhood, municipal, regional, and national—the drivers that trigger reflection and action were identified. These drivers were then used to determine the “barriers and enablers” that affect Hull’s capacity to support its adaptive and inherent resilience.
Grazia Di Giovanni presented her research on the concept of ‘Build Back Better’ (BBB, Clinton 2006) by asking the question “Why and how to build back better, in shrinking territories?” After reviewing the 10 principles of BBB and the assumption that reconstruction is not equal to rebuilding, she listed three key tensions involved—past vs. future, speed vs. deliberation, and restoration vs. transformation. The drives for policies in territorial and economically shrinking contexts were examined in order to study the effectiveness of BBB.
Abruzzo, Italy was used as a case study due to its low population, high aging index, intense seismic activity, and current recovery from the 2009 earthquake. Giovanni re-clustered the BBB principles in accordance to the policies, reconstruction plans, and interviews with those involved in the reconstruction. She found that the goal of involving and empowering local institutions and communities was not achieved, but the top-down, temporary reinforcing offices led to grassroots projects and NGOs to fill the gap. The efforts to promote fairness and equity through the recovery process were met in the funding response, but not in the speed of reconstruction. Although laws, goals, and reconstruction plans were developed alongside widespread research about rebuilding safer urban fabrics, these tools did not include the power needed to be effective. Also, these funding plans directly correlated with the damage rather than future innovation in addition to focusing most of the funds toward housing rather than public building and infrastructure.
Di Giovanni ended with three questions. Intentions to BBB are good, but what about the “back”? How do you operate in a shrinking context? How do you link reconstruction to socio-economic transformation through the BBB framework?
The presentation by Maria del Mar Casanovas-Rubio focused on “Optimization of post-disaster assisted self-build housing construction and labor safety in developing countries”. Statistics from different United Nations agencies provided a basis for the importance of housing needs in a post-disaster context. She provides three areas to consider for proposed housing solutions: 1) sustainability and security, 2) methods and technologies, and 3) the labor method. By focusing on the assisted self-build or community-based construction methods of labor, Casanovas-Rubio refines the housing response to include:
- Use local materials and methods of construction
- Use local knowledge to improve safety and security of housing
- Design low-technology, but high-knowledge buildings
- Provide a sustainability assessment that includes labor risks
- Define a teaching context and plan.
Since post-disaster decisions are complex with many alternatives, the Multi-attribute Utility Theory (MAUT) method for a sustainability assessment and occupational risk index is proposed. The sustainability assessment tool creates a value tree using requirements, criteria, and indicators concerning social, environmental, and economic factors. A formula to determine the sustainability index was provided to equally compare categories with different units. Similarly, a formula for the occupational risk index was s provided. Since these indexes are not utilized very often in housing risk reduction, these assessments will be applied to Iran through a joint research project with PhD students in Tehran. In conclusion, the need to provide sustainable and secure homes requires a methodology—the proposed MAUT—to determine exactly what housing to provide and how to provide it.
Vinson Serrano compared global and national standards in his presentation about “Disaster Resilient Residential Planning through the Integration of Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response to the Economic and Socialized Housing Project Standards in the Philippines”. The Philippines has a high risk of vulnerability according to the World Risk Index due to the high number of earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. Serrano used both the disaster risk reduction management (DRRM) cycle and the 4R’s of resilience— Robustness, Redundancy, Resourcefulness, Rapidity—to compare the global SPHERE standards to the BP 220 which is the national standard. This comparison was made through a table with columns for both sets of standards, the DRRM category, and the 4R’s category. Bistekville 3, a social housing project, was used as a case study to see the realistic effects of implementing the national standards given the gaps found in the comparison. He observed the following improvements would bring about a more resilient national standard:
- Robustness – incorporate preventative maintenance of infrastructure.
- Redundancy – provide more than the minimum space standards in addition to communal open space.
- Resourcefulness – design new facilities as multi-purpose buildings.
- Rapidity – focus on non-structural programs to support the communities.
Overall, Serrano found that strong social capital encourages activities in the community. To create more resilient cities, the national and global standards need to incorporate measures to address social as well as technical solutions.
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