Something went wrong.

We've been notified of this error.

Need help? Check out our Help Centre.

Co-Designing Disaster Risk Reduction

Low-lying Pacific Atoll nations like the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), face increased vulnerability to climate change risks, such as flooding, drought, and typhoons. These environmental risks are compounded by broader social issues, such as lack of access to
education and expertise, which are needed to increase civic capacity and climate resilience.

Environmental risks and social issues are compounded in the built environment, where development often ignores them, and is built without input from community stakeholders. As new development is built, resilience strategies must be integrated during the design process. Two known methods for utilization are: (1) Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) -- providing a method for assessing risk, building capacity, and assisting in climate change adaptation -- and (2) Participatory Design -- which brings the community into the design process. While these methods are known, examples combining CBDRR and Participatory Design are few. In Pacific Atolls, where action is imperative, there are fewer.

This project aims to leverage the real-world design of a K-12 school to provide a case study in the integration of CBDRR and Participatory Design that will help build a framework for other such projects in communities facing similar challenges across the globe. Integration of CBDRR into school design is uncommon, yet the school (located in Laura, RMI and about to begin design), provides an unusually ideal medium for this research, since its components (educational platform, community-hub, and use as a disaster shelter) provide traits central to CBDRR’s success.


Our main research questions are: (1) How can Community-Based Disaster Risk Management be integrated within the master planning and design of a K-12 school? (2) How can Community-Based, Participatory-Design processes improve community agency in Disaster Risk Reduction? (3) How can a partnership between private enterprise (architect, planner), academic institution, and community organizations (school, municipality, non-profit) work together to accomplish these goals?


The methods used are (1) the formation of an advisory committee including SDA and member of the community (2) surveys and group interviews (3) hands-on workshops using physical models of the area (4) data visualization to summarize and highlight the key research findings.


The exploration and analysis will build a framework to (1) assist community stakeholders to develop sustainable and resilient land use strategies; (2) illustrate community based best practices for development; (3) promote the applications of sustainable local resources and local knowledge in building design and development.


Matthew Bunza

Dial Keju

Kianna Juda Angelo

Jesper Angelo

Chuck Genuardi

Kristen Taylor

Elizabeth Miller

Purvangi Patel


Using Format