Arch 498/598 – Autumn 2020: Planning and designing for changing climates: Adapting to their impacts

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The premise of this course is that climates are changing around the Earth and human settlements and their inhabitants will need to adapt to these changing circumstances. The course is being organized to present a series of vignettes of circumstances that are likely harbingers of future events (i.e., when, if climate change remains unresolved or even worsens, challenges to our natural and built environments escalate). Presentations of these vignettes are intended to layout both (i) ways of thinking about the natures of the associated challenges and (ii) potential solutions (or, at least, means for finding solutions).

Changing climates pose significant challenges to how the built environment can be used and should be developed now and in the near future.  Likely changing climatic events will include the increasing intensity, frequency, and duration of heat waves; droughts; extreme winds; heavy rainstorms (leading to flooding in river basins and along coast lines); more powerful hurricanes, typhoons, and tornadoes; and rising sea levels.  It is also probable that changing climates will alter patterns of disease vectors, air pollution, agricultural productivity (and plant growth, generally), insect and animal habitats, and so forth.

This course will examine the probable challenges that climate change will provide for existing and future cityscapes, landscapes, buildings, and human health and well-being, including fostering social and economic justice.  The class will seek solutions – defining responsive design and performance standards – for the built environment, so that future urban form, landscape developments, and buildings, and their occupants, will be able to function successfully when confronted with the changing climates.

Dean Heerwagen