“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.” – Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
COVID-19 has had a huge impact all over the world. Many of us have lost loved ones and have been wondering how to move forward. Amidst surviving this pandemic, the loss experienced in different aspects became heavy in all senses. On a global scale, people lost their jobs, homes, loved ones, businesses, money, and even their mental health. In times like this, the will to survive and bounce back was crucial, which not everyone could do. This pandemic has made us realize the undeniable need for resilience. Society in general has been surviving till now because of the resilience displayed by the minority of the community. This is proof that resilience is essential for a community to strive and thrive.
Resilience is a part of our daily lives as it helps an individual and a community to move forward by handling an impossible situation positively and also allows them to bounce back from any loss while achieving a stable life.
Factors that influence resilience
Building community resilience takes a lot of components where one cannot function without the other. The factors that influence resilience are as follows.
- Individual resilience (physical and psychological well-being)
- Community factors
- Social factors
- Environmental Resilience
Like a puzzle, each factor plays a vital role in instilling community resilience. When combined with architectural design, these factors can have a lasting impression on the community in terms of resilience. Other than the above-mentioned factors, culture, art, and creativity can influence community resilience like in the past. But depleting cultural practices and traditions, in turn, affect the arts and crafts, which in turn has been affecting the community’s resilience without intending to. Though resilience is necessary for everyone, there are various needs for different user groups. Some might need to be resilient to recover from physical illness, some have to be resilient to have strong mental health and some might need to be resilient to recover from a heavy loss. This makes it essential for architectural design to address all the user groups and provide a space that can help every individual be resilient.
Physical well-being and psychological well-being are the two important factors that influence an individual’s resilience. The goal of achieving excellent physical well-being is to challenge the individual’s strengths to change, adapt, and grow for a healthy quality of life. Several activities promote physical well-being, such as promoting education by creating safe spaces for children and adults such as night schools, small-scale libraries, and tuition spaces so that they can have the means to earn on their own, promoting small-scale businesses such as clothing, food, homemade products, etc. by providing a space for them where people can buy and be encouraged so that they can earn on their own even during difficult times, conducting food drives and donations to help those in dire need, preparing spaces for temporary shelter, especially during disasters; promoting accessible health care by providing consultation; promoting physical therapy through exercises and water; allowing trained members of the community to teach necessary skills which will be useful to their community through vocational training classes; and creating informal co-working spaces where people with the same idea in a community can come together and form their own business.
Psychological well-being can be achieved by creating spaces that help to unwind, divert one’s mind, and relax. Healing of the mind can be done using spiritual means, recreational activities, and psychotherapy. Support groups, exercise therapy, holistic therapy, and other recreational activities such as relaxation training, arts and crafts, music and dance, games (sports, video games, board games), animal-assisted therapy, gardening, storytelling, creative writing, drama, cooking, and community activities can help individuals to be resilient. Recognizing psychological well-being is very important. In many countries, people asking for therapy are constantly judged and looked down on. This is where architecture comes in. The design of spaces can be done in such a way that they cannot be labeled as therapy spaces. But instead, these spaces can have a more informal design with implicit therapy activities. For instance, therapeutic gardens allow for community activities and also induce positive mental health in individuals. Spatial and landscape design can allow for therapeutic activities, skill training, and even opportunities for the economy.
Community factors include enhancing the economic, institutional, ecological, and infrastructure capacities of the community. Providing convertible refuge spaces during natural disasters, economic downturns, or other tragedies, by creating a self-sufficient community in terms of electricity, water, gas, and food; volunteering for medical aid; moral support, and distribution of essential resources can help a community feel safe as they know that they can survive any crisis as these activities are done regularly and will create a strong and resilient community.
The main goal of including social factors is to involve the family, friends, coworkers, or community to provide social, economic, and financial support to an individual during a time of need. A community can be resilient when they know that they can rely on someone when they are afflicted with a loss. Even though it is essential to have individual resilience, a resilient community is essential for a better future for the community. Social factors can be instilled through volunteer work for reading; conducting tuition and classes for education, medical care, etc.; fundraising events; donating food, clothes, and immediate supplies; a community garden; thrift stores; a community kitchen; community events; and promoting terrace activities such as walking, exercise, play areas, and socializing to form a strong network among the community.
A community can be physically and psychologically resilient. But for a community to be completely resilient, the environment they live in must also be resilient. By using renewable resources, xeriscaping, biofiltration, afforestation, recycling and reusing, designing landscapes as aesthetic elements, buffer zones as a privacy element, home biogas, and preserving the existing ecology, we can ensure that the environment is resilient.
Architecture and community resilience
All the above factors can be combined using architectural design. It is common knowledge that architecture has the power to induce emotions in its users. By combining this powerful tool with the activities mentioned, space as a whole can influence community resilience. The architectural design should be implicit and inclusive such that people don’t feel they’re being judged, yet with and without their knowledge, they will make themselves resilient. Before designing a space that influences community resilience, it is important to analyze the community and find out what is lacking and include the solutions as they will play an important role in building community resilience. The overall design can be inspired by the existing architectural styles found in the community, and it is important to create informal spaces by combining semi-open and open spaces for the activities, to increase community interaction. Community resilience and architecture must go hand in hand to develop a community for a brighter and better future for the community.
Harms, P.D.; Brady, Lisa; Wood, Dustin; Silard, Anthony (2018). Article title: Resilience and Well-being. Available at: https://www.nobascholar.com/chapters/4/download.pdf. Accessed date: 03/09/22