As global urbanisation accelerates, cities need to be able to continue to function properly under increasing multiple stresses. To do that, cities must be consciously designed to resist the impacts of natural, social, political and economic events.
As global urbanisation accelerates, cities need to be able to continue to function properly under increasing, multiple stresses. To do that, cities must be consciously designed to resist the impacts of natural, social, political and economic events.
It requires us to shift from a situation where we design for the present, to a situation where we have to design for the future in a much more conscious way.
"Cities which build-in resilience will be better able to anticipate, manage or avoid a diverse range of natural and socioeconomic risks: everything from cyber-attacks, endemic crime and social deprivation to earthquakes, power outages and disorder"
"It's a complex field that demands holistic design thinking, active management and stewardship - and a willingness to cooperate for the common good"
"This change in behaviour will mean a host of different disciplines and sectors speaking to each other and - more importantly - listening to each other for the sake of the city."
Three years ago, 'Resilience' was a fast-emerging discipline, given momentum by a bow-wave of interest from forward thinking planners, architects, engineers and academics - and boosted by the involvement of some generous and committed benefactors.
Since then we have seen the advent of two key projects that should change the way resilience is integrated into future city design. One is a way to assess a city's current level of 'resilience readiness', the other is an ambitious project to help cities implement the very best of global 'resilience thinking' faster and more effectively.
Looking forward, though, one thing is obvious: cities have no choice. The future is resilient.
During our research into Future Spaces, we spoke to Josef Hargrave, Associate Director in Arup's Foresight, Research and Innovation team. He told us that the key to building-in resilience is "... shifting from a situation where we design for the present, to a situation where we have to design for the future in a much more conscious way."
It's fitting, then, that we now see Arup at the forefront of helping cities assess their 'resilience profile'. Their recently developed City Resilience Index (CRI) enables cities to 'measure' their resilience. Answering 156 questions across four key dimensions - 'Health & Wellbeing', 'Economy and Society', 'Infrastructure & Environment' and 'Leadership & Strategy' - cities arrive at what Arup think of as a 'representation of the city's immune system'.
Developed as a diagnostic tool in conjunction with the Rockerfeller Foundation, the CRI was designed to help city leaders measure, manage and mitigate the scale of the risks they face. The Foundation's Sundaa Bridget-Jones explains how: "The complex world of resilience doesn't lend itself to aggregation into a single score or ranking - and there is much of value which cannot be quantified as a sum of money or a percentage."
Based on five years of research and testing, the CRI is a powerful tool that helps cities understand and respond to their resilience challenges in a systematic way, providing a clear baseline to plan from - and a benchmark to measure progress against.
When we began our Future Spaces journey, the global '100 Resilient Cities' project (100RC) was a work in progress. Founded in 2013, its aim was to establish a 'test-bed' of 100 cities in which they could establish centres of resilience excellence - appointing, funding and training Chief Resilience Officers within city government bodies, with a remit of integrating resilience into the city's daily activities. In return they had to develop a resilience strategy and share their learnings with fellow CROs worldwide as well as with a diverse range of partner NGOs.
The final 37 cities have been added to the project since Future Spaces began - and there are now 100 cities worldwide developing, comparing, sharing and applying best-practice in designing and implementing future-proof infrastructure. It's resilience planning on a global scale.
Using the information gathered (and in partnership with New York's Columbia University), the 100 Resilient Cities project has launched the Resilience Accelerator - a programme that connects urban leaders working on resilience projects with academics, experts and strategists to fine-tune and fast-track the implementation of their plans. The end game? A universally applicable approach to ensuring resilience.
The immediate goal is for Columbia's new 'Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes' to use the Resilience Accelerator to expedite eight projects in just two years. Selection of the participating cities will begin in Spring 2019. Seems the future is closer than we think.