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Shelter: Vol 16 Shelter: Vol 16

Resilient Cities

The word “resilience” typically describes a material’s ability to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed. In ecology, resilience has been described as the capacity of an ecosystem to tolerate disturbance without collapsing into a qualitatively different state. Thus, a resilient ecosystem is considered to be one that can more effectively withstand external shocks and rebuild itself after experiencing those shocks.

In line with this understanding, the idea of resilience when applied to urban areas, refers to the capacity of our communities and cities to bear the future shocks and stresses associated with climate change, environmental degradation, social and economic turmoil etc. and to continue to function, instead of collapsing. This places an important responsibility on urban planners, architects, social scientists and city administrators, to plan and manage our cities as resilient systems that will be able to cater to the needs of today and the future as well as withstand any forces which may impact its functional efficiency. With the rapid growth of urban areas there is greater concentration of people, economic activities and assets in urban areas, and therefore the impact of any hazard or disaster would also be many times greater. The urgent need for shift in social and economic paradigms, improved technologies, and efficient energy solutions can hardly be overstated, as also, the need for involvement of all stakeholders in developing the resilience of communities.