Architecture for Resilience – surviving earthquakes, tornadoes, fire and floods

  • Mon 8th May 2017

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Poor construction, like diseases, can be eradicated. Whilst the hazard itself is not preventable, the challenge is how as scientists we use our skills to influence decisions made by people going about their everyday lives and create a culture of hazards-resistant housing.

We believe the most effective way to communicate and increase resilience of natural hazards is through building. Resilience can only truly be increased through scientific knowledge transfer, in a language and actions the local communities can understand and are willing to accept and replicate themselves.

The talk will be in three parts. Dr So will first identify the need for research in the area of natural hazards, then move onto looking at ways architecture and engineering can help reduce risk to these natural perils. Some of the recent approaches the team at the Cambridge University Centre for Risk in the Built Environment (CURBE) has used in public engagement and communication with communities that have little experience of, or awareness of the risks they face will be highlighted at the end of the talk.

Dr Emily So has conducted research at the University of Cambridge since her appointment as Research Assistant in 2005 and subsequently as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Cambridge University Centre for Risk in the Built Environment (CURBE), and also as a Director of Cambridge Architectural Research. This research has been instrumental in managing and reducing risks and will continue to save lives. Dr So was quoted as saying in a 2016 BBC Inquiry programme: "the frustration that we know how to build against building collapse and prevent these deaths was really the motivation behind the work I'm doing now”.

Mainly concentrating on natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, volcanoes and tsunamis, the fundamental research carried out by Dr So at CURBE seeks to reduce the risk of these perils, by analysing past events, developing new methods of modelling and bringing together close cooperation between architects, engineers, earth scientists and public health specialists.

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Dr Emily So, MEng PhD CEng MICE, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge, Director of Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd.

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