Cities across the globe are facing the reality of climate variability. Climatic threats such as floods, storm surges, sea level rise are predicted to have negative effects on human, economic and environmental assets. Urban areas in low- and middle-income nations are particularly at risk. They account for already more than a third of the world’s total population and they are likely to house most of the world’s demographic and economic growth in the next 10–20 years. Such growth does not come without consequences in a global and climatic changing environment. Extreme events have disastrous consequences across the globe resulting in financial, social and environmental losses. Since Hurricane Katrina’s destruction in 2005, the world has seen heavy flooding across Africa in 2009, 2011 and 2013; the effect of a Tsunami in Japan in 2011; the damages caused by Hurricane Sandy in North America and the Caribbean islands in 2012 as well as the most recent destructions from Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The world has experienced tremendous challenges to anticipate, cope with and to recover from these extreme events. Global environment changes (including extreme weather events, unregulated processes of urbanization as well as economic and conflict related migration) will make the whole issue of housing even more relevant in the future. The question of housing in connection with growing demands and pre-conditions for adaptation to climate change needs to be considered in the framing of sustainable housing development. This symposium highlights the specific impacts and innovative responses towards climate adaptation in housing particularly at the intersections of formal and informal systems. It discusses how extreme events have transformed the localization, construction and maintenance of housing and particularly what are the drivers and impact of climate-related events and how have they shaped the vulnerability and responses from planning, design and policies in the housing sector. The symposium will couple social and ecological research perspectives. It will provide a characterization of the territorial systems, an analysis of trade-offs and will propose ideas on ongoing processes of internal displacement and relocation, environmental and social vulnerability, resilience and planning recovery.

  • Chair Nathalie Jean-Baptiste, PhD Urban Studies, Research Fellow, Helmholtz Centre for environmental Research - UFZ
  • Housing in a Changing Environment – Assessing vulnerability and promoting resilience
  • Speaker Mark Kammerbauer: PhD Urban Studies, Lecturer, Nürnberg Ohm School of Applied Science at the Faculty of Architecture.
  • Planning urban recovery in Europe – The case of quality and ownership of housing after flooding
  • Speaker Daniel Mbisso: PhD, Assistant Lecturer, Department of Architecture, School of Architecture and Design, Ardhi University
  • The role of marketplaces in the face of urban transformation
  • Speaker Hilda Mariana Zara: PhD, Sustainability Studies
  • UHI/University of Aberdeen (via SKYPE)
  • Are environmental risks another challenge to everyday life in informal settlements? The case of an expanding barrio in Caracas, Venezuela


Planning urban recovery in Europe - The case of quality and ownership of housing after flooding

In the aftermath of disaster, settlement space may be damaged and destroyed. The recovery and reconstruction of housing can be delayed or even fail. Impacted residents may not return home despite available assistance from state institutions, and they may require temporary accommodation. The rebuilding process can be ad hoc, uneven, or fragmented. Yet, the capacity to return and rebuild is not only influenced by physical destruction, but also by social vulnerability. Are there disconnects between plans and programs for recovery and the vulnerability of impacted residents? What are their particular characteristics, and which problems and opportunities arise?

This contribution deals with the case of the southern German city of Deggendorf, situated close by the confluence of the Isar and Danube rivers and heavily impacted by the 2013 European Floods. Here, flood duration in combination with oil contamination contributed to an unexpected, prolonged, and ongoing recovery and reconstruction phase. Homeowners may even need to completely demolish homes and rebuild them anew. State institutions offer funding for this purpose. Yet, at this point, not all former residents have returned and the rebuilding effort seems uneven.

While actual physical rebuilding can serve as an indicator for the success of housing reconstruction after disaster, it does not explain why impacted populations do not have the capacity to return and rebuild. Resilience as a broad framework can offer the inclusion of interdisciplinary research concepts aimed at these socio-spatial issues. Bohle's (2001) double structure of social vulnerability for instance addresses both vulnerability's "internal" and "external" sides and their dialectic relationship. Thus, it can help to understand the capacity of households to recover on the one hand and institutional plans and programs developed to support the recovery process on the other hand.

A mixed method quantitative and qualitative case study approach serves to research the different spatial rebuilding scenarios and related societal root causes in Deggendorf.

This contribution suggests that an integrated view of this complex is necessary to understand the deeply rooted reasons how and why planning and programs are successful or not successful in supporting the recovery process. In this regard, not only spatial aspects, but also the capacity to recover and the social vulnerability of the impacted populations are highly important.

It seems as if renters and senior citizens are impacted in ways that plans and programs for recovery have difficulty in addressing. Planning needs to be further coordinated and integrated with findings on vulnerability to fully utilize the opportunities for beneficial change that may arise during recovery. The aim of the study is to support the formulation of lessons learned and the development of qualified planning recommendations that can improve the resilience of affected urban communities. It is oriented towards planners and practitioners involved in the rebuilding of cities after disaster. The applicability of the employed approach appears sensible in the case of flood-related disasters in cities, while its application to other hazard types may require further study.

The role of marketplaces in the face of urban transformation

Marketplaces are among important nodes for economic, social and cultural activities in the rapidly urbanizing developing countries. Yet, the role they play in the urban development processes is not often acknowledged. The aim of this paper is to present and discuss the space use dynamics by trading activities in a marketplace and the way they influence the immediate urban environment. The Temeke Stereo Marketplace in a planned neighborhood in Dar as Salaam, Tanzania is taken as an empirical case. The resulting effects in terms of change of physical functions of the immediate neighborhood are analyzed simultaneously with the periodic spatial transformation of the marketplace. The analysis takes into consideration the prevailing formal and informal institutions that are at play in the spaces’ generation, use and management.

It can be argued that conceptions, decisions, actions and reactions of actors in varying institutions influence transformation of both the marketplace and the neighborhood. The marketplaces are fluid and multifaceted; serving as not only places for economic transactions but also as social and political platforms. In this way, the marketplaces seem to contribute significantly in shaping the spatial character of an urban environment. Understanding the dynamic spatial character of marketplaces is therefore of importance in holistically comprehending the urban transformation processes. This may inform planners and architects as well as urban development guardians in providing adequate marketplaces that are functional and responsive to a given context.

Are environmental risks another challenge to everyday life in informal settlements? The case of an expanding barrio in Caracas, Venezuela

Vulnerability of informal settlements to environmental risks such as weather-related events are shaped not only by the socio-economic particularities of the context in which these emerge, but also by the ways in which the inhabitants of these settlements experience, conceive and relate to their local environment. This qualitative case study aims to provide an understanding of people- environment relationships in El Naranjal, an expanding informal settlement within the metropolitan area of Caracas, Venezuela, against a backdrop of increasing episodes of rainfall. People- environment relationships are understood as multiple, complex and contextual, where environment is comprised of the physical, interpersonal, social and cultural aspects of the context people interact with. The study demonstrates that an in depth understanding of people-environment relationships can be gained through exploring residents’ experiences of place and community in El Naranjal. Over a fieldwork period of eight months, data was gathered using in-depth and walking interviews, participant observation and group activities. Environment and environmental risks such as rainfall are understood, experienced and related to differently by individuals with diverse socio economic backgrounds, needs and agendas. Pre-existing issues of geographical segregation, poor infrastructure, lack of participation and government support within the communities of El Naranjal shaped their diverse experiences and responses. This underlines some of the gaps between national policy making on environmental, land tenure, risk management and participation matters and residents’ understandings and experiences of issues of their places and communities. Thus, this study emphasizes the need to approach environmental risks as adding to, and amplifying the existing issues that residents of informal settlements deal with on a day to day basis. In doing so, it challenges views of informal settlement communities as homogeneous, illegal and paralyzed by poverty. Instead, it highlights their central role in the making of cities, as well as their heterogeneity and capacity to innovate in the face of mounting risks.