On the evening of Monday 8 May, a group of five 6th Form Geographers and Miss Taylor travelled to Churchill College, Cambridge University to attend a lecture given as part of the Cambridge Society for the Application of Research (CSAR) lecture programme. The talk, ‘Architecture for Resilience – surviving earthquakes, tornadoes, fire and floods’, was delivered by Dr Emily So, Director of Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd.
The lecture started by looking at an image of the devastation caused by the 2011 Japanese tsunami and sparked a discussion about the unpredictability of natural hazards and how we are trying to mitigate the impacts of an event that may take us by surprise. Due to the fact we live in a globalised world, natural hazards do not happen in isolation; what happens in one country often has a direct impact on other countries all over the world. It is therefore imperative that we learn how best to adapt to living with risk and work to reduce the scale of impacts.
Dr So’s engaging talk dealt with a number of issues that the pupils have studied as part of their A Level studies and it was fascinating to hear about the current research that is taking place at the university. Drawing on the interdisciplinary nature of the subject, architects are collaborating with geographers, geologists, engineers and policy makers to come up with innovative solutions to living with risk. We heard about amphibious houses designed to float during a flood, aseismic construction and the importance of building codes to ensure the building stock is designed to withstand a seismic events, and how it is vital that the hazard itself is understood properly so we can cope with whatever it throws at society.
The key message that the pupils left with is that education and community participation is key. Policy makers need to understand the priorities of the local people and work with them to improve infrastructure, planning locations of new homes, helping them to identify and assess the risk. Unfortunately, politicians find it easier to engage with the community after an event rather than before. By working together we can hopefully succeed in building resilience among affected communities.
Photo attached: names left to right
Miss Kate Taylor, Jack Sidgwick, Charlotte White, Dina Aldrich, Dr Emily So, Hetty Beckett, Alex Clabon