Advancing resilience post-disaster
Two of China’s deadliest earthquakes – the Wenchuan earthquake (2008) and the Lushan earthquake (2013) – occurred after the launching of the Open-Door Policy in 1980, during China’s economic boom. The contingencies of this period of economic prosperity drove the post-Wenchuan reconstruction efforts to focus primarily on infrastructure, neglecting important long-term concerns with regard to residents affected by the earthquake. Learning from the Wenchuan case, the post-Lushan earthquake initiatives endeavored to balance the different dimensions existing within building resilience and supporting sustainable by utilizing more human-centered, participatory approaches. These approaches aimed to harmonize the social, economic, and ecological concerns that revolved around the reconstruction of the built environment in order to reach attainable long-term sustainability goals. This human-centered, participatory approach fostered better communication among the major facilitators at different levels of Lushan’s reconstruction and recovery (mainly government officials, architects, urban planners, and urban designers) and, in turn, their communication with the stakeholders (primarily local residents).
Drawing from the experience of the Lushan case, this research evaluates the role of designer-user communication in community-based built environment planning and design strategies by exploring outcomes of sustainability, equity, and livelihoods in small rural communities. It utilizes focus groups and interviews, conducted with both the facilitators and stakeholders. The newly created designer-user partnership that developed during the Lushan case helped designers to better understand the survivors’ urgent necessities and their communities’ long-term challenges. The partnership advanced the quality of the reconstruction projects by addressing these important concerns and building the residents’ capacity to manage community-based resources. It accelerated the disaster survivors’ long-term livelihoods and rehabilitation as well as enhanced the resilience capacities at individual, family, and community levels by incorporating sustainable development features.