Design solutions for climate change

Written by
A woman makes her way down the seawall along the Kitakama and Ainokama coastline in Sendai, Japan. After the tsunami in 2011, the Japanese government has spent billions of yen on the reconstruction of a 31.8 km seawall along the Sendai coastline. Commissioned photograph for the exhibition. ©Paula Bronstein.

There may be passionate debate about it in political circles as to whether it’s happening, or what’s causing it, but scientists almost completely agree: climate change is real, and will lead to rising sea levels and more extreme storms.

So how do we, as people, adapt?

Obviously, logic would tell us to try to stem the initial damage somehow.

But we, as people, also have to create things to withstand the destruction of our changing climate.

And, to that end, architects and designers are joining with city planners to prepare for those changes in structural form.

A new exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography called “Sink or Swim: Designing for a Sea Change” looks at some of these design interventions.

Frances Anderton, host of KCRW’s Design and Architecture, curated the show and spoke to KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis about it.

The roller coaster from the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey partially submerged in the ocean after Hurricane Sandy. © Stephen Wilkes courtesy of Peter Fetterman Gallery.
Watervilla de Omval, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Photo: Iwan Baan.
Bang Bua Thong, Thailand, October 23, 2011. Flood victims move through the water on a makeshift raft past a portrait of the King of Thailand. At the time the photo was taken, Thailand was experiencing its worst flooding in 50 years. © Paula Bronstein / Courtesy of Getty Images.
Gaibandha District, Bangladesh, 2010. During the harvest of jute, villagers rest above the floodwaters of the surging Brahmaputra River. A simple adaptation in flood-prone areas is building every house on a two-meter tall mud plinth. © Jonas Bendiksen.
Global Green’s Holy Cross community project, Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, Louisiana. Commissioned photograph for the exhibition. © Stephen Wilkes.

Stilt houses, Ganvie, Benin. Commissioned photograph for the exhibition. Photo: Iwan Baan.