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Cultures, Communities and Design

Designing in the Anthropocene. How living and designing with others informs design principle and practices.
I. Perez Lopez


Since industrialization began the modifications of the natural environment created substantially greater impacts in deltas and estuaries, resulting in a disconnection between people and the natural water systems. The problem is amplified by the impacts of unpredictable events linked to climate change without the natural protection inherent to water and natural ecosystems, exponentially impacting and threatening inhabitation in delta ad waterfront cities. The research investigates the implications of inhabiting delta and coastal cities within Australia, exploring the challenges and opportunities for waterfront cities being exposed to the impact of climate change. The final objective is to establish a set of design principles and guidelines that are both multi-scale and multi-disciplinary in nature and offer approaches to urban, landscape and architectonic design principles in their relationship with water, prioritizing: 1) Building with nature in order to mitigate the impact of extreme weather conditions while enriching city amenities, liveability, and environmental biodiversity, amongst other benefits; 2) Investigating how better designed river corridors, ocean shorelines and public domains can contribute to a more resilient and liveable city, and linking land uses with safety and security, and; 3) Proposing typologies and architectonic design compatible with future architecture models, through principles that prioritize reducing consumption and increasing sustainability and efficiency of the built environment. The methodology fits within the “Double Diamond” method, which prioritizes the users experience, draws from interdisciplinary knowledge, utilizes design approaches, and includes provisions for prototyping, testing and refinement of design solutions (Conway, 2005). The most value and impact will ultimately be to the inhabitants of coastal and delta cities. The research prioritizes their participation throughout the project, as they are ultimately most impacted by climate change and can play a critical role in future mitigation. Involving community in data compilation, co-design, public exhibitions, and feedback will enable the establishment of strong links with the research team and the community.


Irene Perez Lopez is a Doctor in Architecture from the Polytechnic University of Madrid’s School of Architecture. Her research interest is the based on the understanding of Architecture as the construction of the common, the Social Space. Her dissertation explores architectures in the limit between scales and disciplines through the Construction of a Theory of Bigness. Currently Irene is exploring the implications of inhabiting the threshold between land and water, proposing methods and approaches to design and life with water as an instrument to re-thinking the design of the city. Irene ran her own architecture, urban, and landscape design practice, completing design, competition, and consulting services on an international domain since 2005. She led TerritorioMayor, the Centre for Urban Studies at Mayor University of Chile and is President and co-founder of the Pan-American Observatory of Landscape, Territory and Architecture OPPTA – a non-profit international organization focused on the protection, restoration, recovery and reconstruction of urban and rural environments impacted by the effects of human-caused environmental pressures and Climate Change. Irene is Senior Lecturer at the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle (Australia) and has previously taught at the Bío Bío University -Chile, Mayor University of Chile, Salamanca University, and the School of Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Madrid ETSAM-UPM.