Creating Resilient Communities in War and Disaster


By James Kostaras and Maria Roldan

The following is a summary of the presentation “Creating Resilient Communities in War and Disaster,” which took place at the Architecture Boston Expo (ABX) on November 28-29, 2018.

Maria Roldan presents at  Creating Resilient Communities in War and Disaster.

Maria Roldan presents at Creating Resilient Communities in War and Disaster.

The Syrian refugee crisis, the devastation of earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters in Puerto Rico and Haiti, and the crisis of poverty and homelessness in Massachusetts have something in common: they are calling out to the design industry in a search for resilient practices. The ABX panel Creating Resilient Communities in War and Disaster brought together architects whose work is going beyond construction and planning by tackling complex societal and environmental problems. The BSA Syrian Refugee Committee, ResilientSEE, Build Health International and Open Architecture Collaborative —all public interest design initiatives—participated ABX Panelists.


Panel organizers invited ResilientSEE to discuss resilient rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico. Members of our platform marveled at the similarity of relief efforts, regardless of culture, site, politics or local economy. ResilientSEE’s  approach has consisted of forming a local alliance, bringing together stakeholders, and co-creating strategies for change with the community. Its replicability allows it to quickly engage in other locations and have a lasting impact across scales. Its framework can be adapted to the specific conditions and needs of the site.

Panel members agreed: The power of design is universal. The panel was effective in exposing takeaways and lessons learned. It showed a global perspective on how different communities are increasingly organizing themselves to become resilient and how the design and architecture practice is evolving to solve the world’s current needs.