Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Evolution and Recovery: Adaptable Housing Reconstruction in Post Disaster Scenarios

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posted on 2023-03-14, 23:28 authored by Shearer, Liam

Every year disasters affect hundreds of millions of people, causing damage that can take months or years to recover from. The reality of carrying out the processes of reconstruction and recreating functionality is a complex and difficult task; too often it is measured in a time period of several years. The issue to be addressed through this research is the response of the built (or rebuilt) environment to the requirements of people who have been displaced following a major disaster. This thesis develops a building typology and process that can adapt to the changing requirements of the stages of the redevelopment process in a post‐disaster scenario. The research focuses on natural disasters, more vulnerable populations and regions and specifically on housing reconstruction. It explores the idea of a solution that can be applied widely, to many different climates and contexts; the research question then amounts to ‘can a solution be created that can ‘evolve’ to meet the needs at each stage of a post disaster reconstruction scenario?’ The thesis explores existing post‐disaster response and reconstruction models and discusses the focuses and priorities of each. The requirements of displaced people are studied, in terms of response by the built environment, and the benefits of staged development versus end product discussed. The roles that major groups, such as local authorities and NGOs, play in orchestrating the reconstruction process are discussed as well as the important, and sometimes overlooked, role that those affected by the disaster may have. The discussion and research then informs the design proposal. Four sites are selected and used as parameters for developing the built response to the first stage of reconstruction. The selected sites are then used to show how a generic shelter may first be adapted to be suitable for a specific climate and context and then how they may be added to and grown to become permanent and suitable housing for the displaced people. The staged redevelopment process from a partially generic emergency deployment presented in this thesis can provide a solution, or framework for a solution, to many of the problems raised by the research and here, but it cannot be a solution by itself; architecture or design in post‐disaster scenarios must be supported and driven heavily by planning and management from local, national and international sources to be successful and fully realised.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Architecture

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


de Sylva, Shenuka