DR Esther Charlesworth

Director, Humanitarian Architecture Research Bureau (HARB)
Associate Professor, School of Architecture & Design, RMIT University

Humanitarian Architecture: Pathways to building resilient communities after disaster?

June 29, 2015
 | Time: 
11:45 AM

Why should design and construction professionals be involved in humanitarian work and the often complex projects needed to deal with the recovery of post-disaster emergencies? How as disciplinary groups can they contribute to the long-term reconstruction processes needed to ensure the effective rebuilding of resilient communities after disaster? This paper explores these questions through profiling the emerging movement and literature of ‘Humanitarian Architecture’.  From Shigeru Ban to architects working within the United Nations, many design professionals working in the disaster-management sector, are united by a belief that the processes of spatial problem-solving can actively contribute to the challenges of rebuilding resilient cities and communities following disaster scenarios. This paper will explore those beliefs and examine how they are translated (or not) into the actual practice of rebuilding after disaster.

DR ESTHER CHARLESWORTH is an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT, where she is Director of the Humanitarian Architecture Research Bureau (HARB) and the new Master in Disaster, Design and Development (MoDDD) degree. Esther also is the Founding Director of Architects Without Frontiers (AWF), the Asia-Pacific’s first design not for profit agency. AWF has delivered 36 projects across 12 countries from Afghanistan to Vietnam, since 2002. Australian journalist, Phillip Adams (2002) has described AWF as “destined to develop into one of the greater forces of good on this battered planet”.

Esther is the author of 6 books including: Sustainable Housing Reconstruction (2015), Humanitarian Architecture (2014), The EcoEdge (2011), Architects Without Frontiers: War, Reconstruction and Design Responsibility (2006), Divided Cities (2009) andCityEdge: Contemporary Case Studies in Urbanism (2005).