Changing Places  

Resilience has grown in significance in conversations around the built environment, partly as a response to crises and emergencies, in particular the financial crisis of 2009 and the increasing impacts of climate change in the built environment. The wider cultural impact of the original idea in Canadian Ecologist CS Holling’s 1973 paper, ‘Resilience and Stability of Ecological Systems’ has taken a while to unfold. With global displacement from conflict and climate change set to rise architecture needs to be configured as adaptive and resilient to complex, uncertain situations.

Resilience can be found in everything from site specific infrastructure projects conceived to safeguard ecologies and new communities, to spatialisations and structures that allow for nomadic, fluid populations liberated from constraints of place or damaging energy resources.

Whether it is a building or ecosystem or a person, resilience is about learning the processes that will help respond to crises – not to return to the previous equilibrium but as process of transformation. Educationalist Ronald Barnett sees resilience as a disposition for learning, learning as the act of “moving oneself from one place – of limited understanding – into another place, of somewhat fuller understanding.”

Carmelo Ignaccolo, Deniz Onder and Dissa Pidanti Raras write in their reflections on Bengal Flux, “the limits of architecture are expanding and the borders are getting blurry. The research component is getting engaged with data-based tools in order to support a design that gives space to indeterminacy setting open infrastructures for habitats, communities, ecologies. The project becomes a process that evolves throughout time.” 

TU Delft graduate Supriya Krishnan writes of the shift in architectural focus and practice from monumentalism and spectacle to, “humble but thoughtful interventions at the right places (public restrooms on freeways, multipurpose centers in deprived neighbourhoods, bridges connecting diverse socio-economic districts, art interventions) have the power to kick start and transform ways of engaging.”

As Krishnan says Resilience is about engagement and entanglement, about open systems and as architect about being open. When faced with the challenge of a changing architectural landscape, of what it means to practice architecture which now demands a deeper engagement with ecology, communities and material resources, how might the resilient architect change? Deep learning can be experienced as a crisis because it requires us to change ourselves, these new graduates have produced work about resilience that comes from an imagination and practice of resilience.