Facing climate change

Success in the international Competition “Designing Resilience in Asia”

2017/10/05 by

At the prestigious international competition Designing Resilience in Asia, student-teams of TU Darmstadt compete for the third time in a row with the different teams of 10 Universities and win the “Urban Design Excellence Award”, endowed with 4000 Singapore dollars.

The two teams of TU Darmstadt celebrate their successful participation in the competition. Image: TU Darmstadt
The two teams of TU Darmstadt celebrate their successful participation in the competition. Image: TU Darmstadt

In times of climate change and the associated natural catastrophes such as typhoons, heavy rain, floods and earthquakes, the resilience of urban structures is one of the most important issues for many places in South Asia. These events are often coming together with anthropogenic problems, such as a lack or missmanagement of infrastructure, pollution, land degradation or security problems, thus significantly increasing the vulnerability of cities. The Designing Resilience in Asia Competition, organised annually by the National University of Singapore, offers students of architecture the opportunity to develop solution on a design level, for exceptionally heavily affected areas to increase resistance to the consequences of climate change.

In the focus of the 2015 Competition was a Chinese fishing village which has to deal with several typhoons, which affect the life of the fishermen, including their economy and ecology. In the following year, Manila on the Phillipines (2016), which is characterized by a systematic mismanagement of water infrastructure and thus anthropogenic floods, was in the focus of this project. The competition site 2017 is the harbor area of Semarang, Indonesia.

Heavy rainfalls combined with inadequate infrastructure lead to permanent floods, particularly during the monsoon season, in the urban and dense area of Semarang. These Floods have an impact to the daily life of the people, and furthermore cause a lot of damages to transportation and other safety-relevant aspects. They also influence the safe use of drinking water, which can become a threat to the health of the inhabitants. In addition, hygienic aspects, in particular due to a lack of sewerage or wastewater treatment, play a major role.

This problem is intensified by the rising sea level, the lack of infrastructure, pollution, waste and industrial garbage, an almost complete destruction of natural retention areas and a reckless deforestation of the upstream watershed for monocultural agriculture. A systemic and decades-long groundwater extraction, mostly for industrial purposes, located on the outskirts of the city, evoked massive land subsidences. Those who have the necessary financial resources regularly increase their house in order to protect themselves against floods and land subsidences. However, the increased ground floor of the neighborhood results in an elevation of the road. Houses which are not increased are subsequently uninhabitable.

Due to the complexity of the problems, the design was developed in large groups. The groups were supported by the expertise of the students of the international Master-Program „International Cooperation in Urban Development – Mundus Urbano“ at the faculty of Architecture.

The first design, called “reTRACE” was awarded the “Urban Design Excellence Award 2017” by the international jury and secured one of the three main prizes for the TU Darmstadt in continuation of the past years. The second Design “SPROUD” was awarded with a honorable mention. The Design Studio was guided by Prof. Dr. Rudolph-Cleff, Dipl.-Ing. Simon Gehrmann, as well as Dr..-Ing.Björn Hekmati and Dipl.-Ing. Frederik Helms.