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International Architectural Roundtable 2016

Designing Resilient Buildings in the Face of Climate Change

More than 400 people came to hear the panelists speak about designing for resiliency. The Roundtable was convened to examine innovative responses to rising sea levels, increases in global temperatures, and fluctuations in precipitation. 
Elsa Lam, Editor of Canadian Architect Magazine, introduced the panelists. “What are the new standards of resilient design when dealing with weather-related risks and issues?” Lam lead straight into the presentations by introducing the session’s four speakers: Berend Strijland, NLE; Pippa Brashear, SCAPE; James Timberlake, Kieran Timberlake; David Turnbull, ATOPIA Innovation. 
Berend Strijland, Architect, NLE, expressed the work of NLE as architecture, urbanism and exhibition--creating intelligent buildings with the environment. Building on water has been a focus with coastal cities and their expected vast growth over the next 35 years. He cited examples including the Makoko Civic Centre to illustrate the possibilities within the city and how the project influenced the residents, tourism and government policy. 
Pippa Brashear, Director, Planning and Resilience, SCAPE quoted Lawrence Halprin, “Change has become the essential element of our time,” and spoke about being confronted with our fragility. Brashear stated that it goes beyond adapting our buildings, to adapting our infrastructure and how we live. The firm approaches its projects with an outlook to “revive, cohabit, engage and scale.”  She spoke about the living breakwaters project in New York and the billion oyster project. Her advice centred on the need for and success that comes from collaborations with other disciplines. 
James Timberlake, Co-Founder Kieran Timberlake got both a laugh and applause by opening his presentation with a current remark, “It’s great to be in Canada after the last 18 months…we need your help.” While ‘material, theory and technique’ may have been considered the core of architecture, it is much more complex than that. Today it includes environment, budget, schedule and time. The firm’s mantra has led to success in many projects: “fail early, fail fast.” Whether prefabricating architecture for houses in New Orleans or Bangladesh, aspects of resiliency is not just a regional or local issue. 
David Turnbull, Director ATOPIA Innovation, Design Director, ATOPOIA Research Inc dba PITCHAfrica, discussed how the unique structure of two firms, one for fee, one for grant, allows designers to sustain themselves. Water consumption and use was illustrated in key projects in Africa. Turnbull explained how to harvest water, and how it can change a community. As well, the design of a girls’ school is important to the protection of young women and their ability to become educated. 
Lessons Learned 
Elsa Lam, asked the panelists to summarize the lessons learned in relation to the importance of resiliency. 
Berend Strijland suggested although it’s an extreme way of thinking, “add a small innovation to make it better.” 
Pippa Brashear reiterated, “Collaboration is so important to adaptive structures; it’s important to listen and to understand.” 
“I’ve learned a lot to going to other communities in the world where they see us as part of a prosperous outcome. We talk about what’s wrong with those things and emphasize what people have right in front of them,” said Timberlake. 
“We have to build desire,” stated Turnbull, “It’s part of the job, and it’s not the same anywhere you work.” He also spoke about the value of using building technology that is quite ancient. “Lessons in the deep past can be hugely relevant in the present.”  
Comments about using materials and building systems that are local can be key. Issues surrounding procurement, how to get projects started in places where policy does not exist continued. Sometimes of simplicity of solutions is better, rather than our current technologies and the maintenance require to sustain them. 
Timberlake wrapped up the session with some clear, defining thoughts—at the beginning of any project we ask, “what are you designing for? What’s the query?” --It’s necessary to have a goal. 
Toon Dreessen, OAA President thanked the panelists at the closing of the session and all who attended. The end of the Roundtable marked the opening of the Construct Canada Tradeshow floor. 
The OAA was proud to sponsor the event together with constructconnect, Brown Daniels Associates, Canadian Architect, and Thames Valley Brick and Tile.

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