Qualities of resilience

From the American Institute of Architects: Sustainability Initiative

Resilience is the ability to respond to known and unknown risks and successfully adapt to changes caused by shocks and stresses in the built environment; certain design characteristics facilitate greater resilience at the building, site, or community level.

Qualities of Resilience outlines indicators of resilience that prepare architects, their clients and the public to confront an ever-changing set of circumstances, variables and environmental conditions. In dynamic environments, prescriptive, one-size-fits-all design approaches will not meet the needs of the future, instead Qualities of Resilience describes characteristics or questions for design teams to consider in an integrated systems-approach to design.  With a performance-based approach to answering the question What is a Resilient Building? architects are able to prioritize the unique needs of their clients to contribute to the social, economic and environmental resilience of communities.

Overarching qualities

Risk-informed site selection: some locations and orientations are safer or more problematic than others.

Appropriately addresses risks: mitigate the hazards identified in the vulnerability assessment

Adaptive: Design to accommodate projected changing environmental and social conditions throughout the anticipated service life of the building. Design infrastructure and buildings to adapt to changing needs over time

Avoids mal-adaptation: ensuring the buildings and infrastructure designed to protect people from a hazard does not diminish resilience and make them more vulnerable in the future.

Recognizes inherent interdependencies: Utilize a systems-based approach to address the building, site, and community together

Prepared for disruption: Integrate systems that support the operation, occupants and mission of the structure should a disruption or failure occur. Individuals, buildings, and communities can meet their own vital needs.

Durable and accessible for its defined service life: Balance first costs and long-term value of the intended service life in the decision-making process for total value. Can withstand the impacts of identified and foreseeable hazards while remaining physically functional and part of the community fabric

Operational: Emergency preparations are made and maintained, and staff and occupants are trained in emergency procedures.

Design attributes

Place based: design strategies address local risks and opportunities. Creates a space that provides equitable social, environmental, and economic benefits to the community.

Safe, secure, and self sufficient: Provides for physical protection and mental comfort from acute shocks and daily stresses. Building safely shelter occupants during outages and interruptions

Minimizes negative impacts: Design strategies successfully mitigate risk without compromising the integrity of dependent systems

Maintainable/serviceable: Design provides for maintenance access and regular improvements to building systems and envelope

Material selection: Materials are durable, low maintenance, and reduce the potential for toxins to enter the waste stream if the building is damaged by a hazard event

Other Key Qualities?  

Contact resilience@aia.org

Image credits