Designing to heal: Planning and urban design responses to disaster and conflict.

Ms Jenny Donovan, David Lock Associates

The UN Environment Program estimate that since 2000 the world has witnessed over 35 major conflicts and 2500 disasters (UNEP undated). This paper will explore what happens to communities that suffer disasters, either natural or man-made and what planners and urban designers can do to give the affected communities the best possible chance of recovering. The paper will focus on the relationship that people have with their surroundings and how that relationship changes when those surroundings are destroyed and the people they shared them with are killed or displaced. It will seek to shed some light on the disruption, trauma, loss of hope and the changed emotional landscape that can result when a community’s social and physical infrastructure no longer functions.

The paper will suggest a model of the healing process, outlining the emotional journey that people go on as they struggle to rebuild their lives and shed some light on how can planners and urban designers respond sensitively to this process and help create the optimal conditions for people to put their lives back together, reforge the bonds of community and meet their own needs.

This will be illustrated with reference to “real world” examples of responding to disasters. This will include the author’s own experience from Kosovo, Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland as well as studies of other communities that have been traumatised by a diverse range of disasters.

This abstract has been submitted for the 4th International Urban Design Conference

Submit your abstract to speak at the conference here now.

Jenny Donovan is a director and a principal at Melbourne-based urban design and town planning practice, David Lock Associates. She has also worked for the United Nations and other bodies in post-conflict and post-disaster rebuilding in Sri Lanka, Kosovo and Northern Ireland.

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