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Built Environment

The mission of this working group is to focus on discussions about the Built Environment.


Carrielaj Emi Kiyota Kathy Gilbeaux mdmcdonald MDMcDonald_me_com Mika Shimizu
Walter Meyer WDS1200-Columbus YANA SERVICES

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After Hurricane Maria, Dominica Seeks to Rebuild Itself Better


A woman walks through the streets of Roseau, the capital of Dominica, shattered by the passage of two category five hurricanes  - UNICEF / Moreno Gonzalez

via Google Translate: - - 28 December 2017

Three months after Hurricane Maria ravaged Dominica, the population remains very affected. However, the post-emergency phase represents a series of opportunities to rebuild better and increase the resilience of the Caribbean island.

Hurricane Maria, of category 5, hit Dominica on September 18, leaving 15 people dead and about 57,000 people affected.

"Three months after the disaster, the situation is much better, but it is still difficult for many," said Luca Renda, the leader of the United Nations response team to the crisis in Dominica, in an interview with UN News.

"The basic needs are covered. The vast majority of children go to school and shops and markets have reopened. However, a third of the population remains displaced, staying at home with family or friends. Only 10% have electricity, and a third do not have direct access to water (potable), "said Renda, who is also coordinator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on the island.

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Green" industrialization part of focus for African Development Week


Carlos Lopes. File Photo: UNECA

Migration, climate change and what's been called "green" industrialization are just some of the issues topping the agenda when African economic and finance ministers gather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, beginning this Thursday.

The conference is part of the wider events for the first African Development Week organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, known as the ECA, and the African Union.

Carlos Lopes is the ECA Executive Secretary at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Ernest Chicho asked him about the background for the week and what to expect.

Duration: 4'28"

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Video - Humanity From Space - July 22, 2015

From the global perspective of space, this 2-hour special reveals the breathtaking extent of our influence, revealing how we’ve transformed our planet and produced an interconnected world of extraordinary complexity.

A journey through 12,000 years, Humanity from Space shows how seemingly small flashes of innovation have changed the course of civilization; innovations that touch all of us today in ways unimaginable to our ancestors. And we’ll gaze into the future at the new challenges we’ll face in order to survive as our global population soars because of our success. In every case we’ll look at our progression in a unique and surprising way, revealing unforgettable facts and "who knew?" connections.

To visualize these stories cutting-edge technology is used to turn raw data into authentic moving images, building on expertise from a previous (and highly-praised) project; "Earth From Space." Using this technique, we can map humanity’s behavior in stunning, never seen before detail, revealing how our civilization grew, how it works today and what the future might hold.

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Structural Adaptivity, Before and After Thoughts


As a means of concluding these writings on Structural Adaptivity and Resilience, following are some of the background thoughts, with recent revision, that led me to my proposals. Originally, my writings were directed at city and regional planning. However now I realize they are also about resilience.  I hope my submittals will be helpful.  I will try to write more soon.


Time.  Planners, resilience makers, and all other leaders and professionals dealing with the built environment must focus on long time spans.  In order to have significant impact on the future of our world, we must recognize that only by looking at big chunks of history and big chunks of future time can we really see the reality of what is going on.  Likewise, we need to do so in order to see the reality of what needs to be done.


Typical urban or regional plans target a future some 20 years ahead.  Moreover, they typically are based on past trends of 20 years or so.  However, our world does not change in 20-year cycles.  Twenty years is a very short time period in the flow of transformation.


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Structural Adaptivity, Rebalancing by Watersheds - Part II

Here is the second part of my Rebalancing by Watersheds Exercise.  I presented the background work recently in my Part I post.  Part II contains a Concept Plan Map and a discussion of the more particular information and data that led me to the Plan. 


Both Parts I and Part II are only a condensed version of the full text I prepared.  Within the portions I left out for this version is a considerable amount of technical information that some readers may want to see.  I will provide more of it upon request. 


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Structural Adaptivity, Rebalancing by Watersheds - Part I


One of the applications of structural adaptivity that I have presented is re-balancing our nation by major watersheds.  The benefits would be two-fold:  (1) growing our nation into urban regions where each would have resilient economic and adaptivity capacities; and (2) tying the regions to ample sources of fresh water by linking them to regional U.S. watersheds.


Because it would be such a large departure from recent trends and because I could discover no literature showing its possibility or desirability, I sought to perform an exercise to demonstrate its possibility.  In doing this, I am setting aside my own considerable shortcomings.  I am assuming that criticism of my arrogance in attempting such an exercise is less important than taking a step in a much-needed new direction.


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Structural Adaptivity Facilitation Examples - Part III

Here are my last three Facilitation Examples, proposed activities by planners and others to influence the development of the built environment toward structural adaptivity and resilience as we progress into an ever more uncertain and unpredictable future. 


Rethinking Homeownership.  Conventional owner-occupied land and buildings in the US many times tie the owners into long-term tenures.  It makes moves, to other locations, overly cumbersome even when such moves are in the occupants’ best interests.  Adaptivity requires the ability to make quicker changes than in the past, including the self-initiated movement of people and businesses to other locations when beneficial.  Alternative types of ownership or tenure must be facilitated, types which are more adaptable to quick change.


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Some Examples of Structural Adaptivity - Part III


Here are 4 more examples of structural adaptivity for resilience.  As with the other examples presented previously, they only are intended to illustrate the concept of structural adaptivity for resilience.  They are intended to focus on the structure or structural elements of cities and/or regions.  Moreover, they are intended to demonstrate how such structural elements can be located, organized, or otherwise developed to have capacity to adapt to the continuing needs of the citizens - as the unknown and rapidly changing future unfolds.


Polycentric Urban Development.  Urban development need no longer be monocentric (having only one center).  In fact, such a pattern is not adaptive to meet the future.


Central business districts have traditionally been the home of government, financial institutions, offices, civic plazas and the like, as well as many commercial retail and services.  They have also often contained many churches, health care facilities, educational institutions, libraries, museums, convention centers, theatres, etc.


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Risk and Risk Underwriting

In writing about the importance of promoting private enterprise, as well as in many other sections of my work, I suggested an almost near certainty that the risk management industry eventually will facilitate resilience and structural adaptivity in our built environment.  In my larger draft, I included a short section about this, which I am posting below (somewhat revised).  I believe it is beneficial to share this section now in order to explain my optimism for resilience. (I also wrote short sections on Time, Rapid Change, Optimism, A Futurist Perspective, and The Human Factor but do not necessarily intend to post them here.)


The future will be all about risk and trying to find protection from the rapidly increasing threats to our world as we advance in population size, social/cultural/economic complexity, and cutting-edge science and technology.  Risk underwriting will play a big role in how well or how poorly we adapt to accelerating change. 


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Structural Adaptivity Thinking

Here, I would like to explain more extensively my thinking about structural adaptivity as a critical aspect of resilience.  (In researching this subject, I was surprised by the lack of information/ideas conveniently available about the characteristics of adaptivity or adaptability. The following are my own preliminary conceptions.  I hope others will improve upon them.)


The world is changing so fast that our government, think tanks, universities and research institutions, business leaders, builders and developers, and “planners” have no hope of being able to keep up with it.  Many thinkers describe our world as actually undergoing rapidly accelerating change.  To be able to plan for the change, or even to be able to react to such transformation while it is happening, we need to do more than just keep up with it.  We need to jump out in front of it.


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howdy folks