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Understanding the relationship between resilience and sustainability: emergency planning and the design of urban space

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conference contribution
posted on 26.06.2012, 12:18 by Julie Fisher, Steven N. Harre-Young, Lee BosherLee Bosher
The compatibility of, and conflict between, resilience and sustainability has received increasing attention in recent years, most notably in relation to the design, construction and operation of urban spaces. Considering that urban spaces can be fixed in time scales that range from several years to several decades and beyond, as well as the heightened influence of fiscal concerns at present and in the future, there is a need to understand and consider such interconnectivities at the earliest possible opportunity. Drawing upon ongoing research into the design of safer urban spaces, the relationship between resilience and sustainability was analysed through the exploration of whether emergency planning and the design of space could further both agendas. A state of the art literature review was conducted, as were eleven interviews with key stakeholders in the fields of emergency planning and resilience in the United Kingdom (UK). Analysis of the above provided results indicating that a range of promising practice has been occuring in the UK, practice that not only increases the resilience of urban spaces to a range of hazards, threats and major accidents, but that is integral to the sustainability of the built environment itself. However, also apparent is the impact of the current fiscal situation, including the Government‟s extensive public sector spending cuts that are threatening the progress that has been made in relation to resilience and emergency planning; impacts which emphasise the need to identify long-term incentives and cost-effective solutions to the protection of the built environment. Conclusions drawn purport that whilst resilience is integral to sustainability and not merely compatible or conducive to it, a framework is required to further understand the integrated nature of urban space and how its users are made safer, built assets can be made less vulnerable to damage, and its natural environments are more protected.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Research Unit

  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)


FISHER, J., HARRE-YOUNG, S.N. and BOSHER, L.S., 2012. Understanding the relationship between resilience and sustainability: emergency planning and the design of urban space. IN: Schrenk, M., Popovich, V.V. and Zeile, P. (eds.). Re-mixing the City- Towards Sustainability and Resilience? Proceedings of REAL CORP 2012, 14th-16th May 2012, Schwechat, Austria, pp. 965-973.


Competence Center of Urban and Regional Planning (CORP)


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