With a series of devastating natural disasters occurring from all stretches of the globe, natural disaster awareness has become a global focal point, and many in the built sector have been tasked with changing the way they design and develop.
Resilience architecture is gaining prominence, with guidelines becoming stricter in areas prone to these extreme environmental shifts.
As part of a growing global response, US interior design students from Baylor University have been asked to create a 400-square-foot disaster relief dwelling for the ‘Social Design Summit: Designing for Disaster Relief Housing’.
The design students have been asked to work with students from various other faculties in order to study and understand the positive and negative attributes of post-disaster dwellings from both the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire and 2005′s Hurricane Katrina.
The design concept will become one of many to be entered into a national competition founded by the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC) and the Florida International University’s Department of Interior Architecture.
Sensitivity is key to the delivery of this particular concept, with the space expected to offer a feeling of safety and comfort to inhabitants.
For this reason, using tents is out of the question, with the small-scaled dwelling required to feature a sleeping area, bathroom and food preparation area. Other considerations sustainability, water and waste management. As a part of the task, students will create both a 3D model and three-minute public service announcement clip explaining their concept and what makes it effective, their founding approach and response to requirements.
According to senior interior design major and president of the Baylor Interior Design Association Allison Lutz, the challenge to design on such a small floor plate is extreme, particularly considering all of the aforementioned requirements.
“My apartment is 450 square feet, but I live by myself,” she says. “When you think about four people living in that space, it’s hard to know where to start.”
It is however, that challenge that is expected to push the students to deliver on a particularly innovative concept, with boundary-pushing often leading to the greatest successes.
While faculty advisors from the university have called the competition a ‘unique learning experience,’ the awareness created throughout the process is invaluable to new designers as they enter into a modern industry that now faces much more pressure and higher expectations to deliver projects that have foresight such as this – projects that go beyond simple aesthetics and impact the quality of human life.
“After a crisis, the faster we can get people into a stable situation with housing and food, the better they will fare psychologically,” says Dr. Sara Dolan, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor. ”The immediate need may be to give them a toothbrush or a bottle of water or to get them their medications, not counseling. I think we can help the interior design students understand the needs of these survivors so they can design a home.”