Urban Resilience


By Dr. Solmaz Rezaei
Head of research and consulting department


Natural disasters have always threatened human societies and jeopardized human lives in various social, economic, residential, environmental and other spheres. By the late nineteenth century, the dominant approach and attitudes toward disaster reduction was based on theoretical concepts of crisis management. But over time, expert look at the social aspect of the vulnerability issue, became more serious by experts and thinkers, and the dominant thinking of crisis management, and mere focus on vulnerability reduction was replaced by a new concept called resilience to disasters.
The resilience is a new concept in urban design which its main approach is to design less vulnerable and more flexible cities against tensions and accidents so that a resilient city is ready to quickly respond to any emergency condition and continue to work with the least damage.
The concept of resilience was first introduced in 1973 by a person named Hulling. According to his definitions, resilience is a measure of the system’s ability to absorb changes while previous resistance still exists. In a more precise definition, resilience is the ability of stressed systems to return to their original state and the ability to reorganize itself.
Accidents and disasters that have taken place in recent decades have shown that communities and individuals are more vulnerable than ever, and often focus on reducing vulnerability happens after disasters and accidents. Resilience is a concept that is meaningful in the face of surprises and disturbances. In other words, to deal with accidents and events, a prediction approach is considered to face the dilemma and the resilience approach is used against unknown problems.
Resilient urban design has different dimensions in the body. In the form dimension, the presence of specific and safe spaces in the urban context, prediction of open multifunctional spaces, attention to the building blocks system, absence of micro-level context, etc. help to increase the resilience. In the space dimension, we can point to the effect of the spatial features that promote urban resilience; Including readability in the environment, sense of belonging and sense of place. Because the sense of belonging can be effective in dealing with the space owners before the accident, through retrofitting, and later by contributing to reconstruction. In the activity dimension, resilience to accidents is impacted by the characteristics of the location, such as land use and access. Land use is the most common issue in planning and design a resilient city, flexibility, and vulnerability that prevents the development of at risk areas. Urban resilience level can be enhanced by addressing items such as building in safe areas, building a network of open spaces, creating a variety of user-friendly applications and transferring population attractive applications to safe areas.
A city with an acceptable and comprehensive resilience has diverse characteristics. Specifications such as the comprehensive observance of construction laws, the existence of inclusive local governments, the power and authority to engage people in city decision-making and planning, the ability to deal quickly, implement immediate recovery solutions, and many other features. But one of the most important characteristics of a resilient city is the performance of human capital in cities. Human capital assesses the skill, knowledge and information of the city in relation to the improvement of resilience. Increasing the knowledge and skills against risk perception by citizens and enhancing the ability to develop risk reduction strategies are important features of a resilient city, which requires providing comprehensive education.
One of the important aspects of urban resilience is the social aspect which is just as important as physical infrastructure. In a city where all types of crime, homelessness, unemployment and lack of adequate education are evident, there will no longer be a strict focus on disaster prevention. Social resilience includes the conditions under which individuals and social groups adapt to environmental changes. Creating empowerment in social resilience is the ability of a community to return to balance or to respond positively to disasters. For example, the existence of a close and intimate social network will enhance the resilience of adults against the negative aspects of aging. The effect of this resilience is such that vulnerability may be high in a society, but social communication is so strong that recovery from the damaged state occurs very quickly.