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Designing to Heal

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By jennydonovan1967

Designing to Heal

Designing to Heal

Designing to Heal

The 911 plaza, one of the projects explored in the book


Designing to Heal


Planning and Urban Design Response to Disaster and Conflict


Jenny Donovan


Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Why I Wrote This Book

My experience in post conflict and disaster recovery projects around the world left me with a sense that the emotional damage and erosion of community life can be every bit as debilitating as the physical damage for survivors. Security is lost, hope is difficult to sustain whilst pain, anger and distress can become endemic. Furthermore sometimes the well meant interventions of urban designers after these events made things worse whilst other projects proved to be effective catalysts for community renewal. The stakes are high. I wrote this book to help make recovery more likely and help communities help themselves.

An Excerpt From My Book

The physical and emotional aftermath of disasters can echo through people’s lives, months, years, even generations after the event. Disasters destroy not only things and people but also the bonds between them, unraveling the fabric of community. This book deals with one small but critical aspect of the disaster response: ensuring that the ‘new’ spaces and buildings – built for and with the survivors – will provide those survivors with the optimal conditions to overcome their loss and rebuild their lives.

Lessons Learned

  • Process and product matter:
  • In terms of the process, the design needs to be a result of real and meaningful engagement with the survivors, in response to an agenda set collaboratively. Done well it can empower people and cultivate hope.
  • In terms of the design, disasters destroy not just good things but bad things also, the opportunity exists to create places sustainable, inspiring and that people can connect with.
  • People matter and the bonds between people matter, we are who we are because of the bonds of support, friendship, love that we get from the people around us and reassurance of how people will act.

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