The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


i-Rec conference 2015: International Perspectives on Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction

20 July 2015

During 6-8 July 2015 we hosted the 7th International i-Rec conference.

i-Rec conference 2015

We welcomed 120 participants from across the world to UCL for three days of intense discussion centred on post-disaster recovery and reconstruction in urban contexts.

The i-Rec – Information and Research for Reconstruction – network has met for an international conference every two years since its inception in 2002. This year, which had an explicitly urban focus, consisted of 14 sessions in addition to numerous other events and was largest conference so far.

Six Roundtable Themes

The three mornings kicked-off with plenary sessions featuring keynote speakers, all leaders in their fields. The conference sessions were structured around six roundtable themes:

  1. Disasters in urban contexts
  2. Housing and beyond: reconstructing lives, reconstructing cities
  3. Linking a past, present and future: histories, urban imaginaries, urban design and its influence on urban recovery
  4. Supporting urban risk reduction through reconstruction
  5. Relocation from hazardous areas
  6. Local governments, urban governance and institution

Due to the overwhelming number of abstracts that were submitted we were able to run multiple sessions under each of these titles.

Conference Activities

Several other activities added further variety to the conference. On Day 1 a book launch and panel discussion took place around Shelter for Disaster, the newly released 2nd edition of Ian Davis’ seminal work. The first edition was published in 1978 and the panel took the opportunity to reflect on what has changed and what has remained the same in practice over the intervening years.

During the afternoon of Day 2, participants were invited to join a series of walking tours in London, with the theme of Post-WWII Reconstruction in London. The series of walks, led by local academics and planners, explored the Bloomsbury, Barbican and Euston/Somerstown areas.

Each evening events such as drinks receptions and a formal dinner brought the attendees together in a social setting.

i-Rec Student Competition

Day 2 also gave space for the presentation of submissions to the i-Rec Student Competition. We are pleased to communicate that the winner and runner up are as follows, with the following comments from the Jury:


RCeG (Rescatar una comunidad) Santiago de Cuba, Cuba  by Niuris Martín Rosabal, Elisa Benitez Toboso, Ana Lourdes Barrera Cano, Royers Leno Medina Jardón from Universidad Central Martha Abreu de Las Villas (Departamento de Arquitectura), Santa Clara, Cuba.

It was selected for the great analysis of the socio-spatial dimension of the project, a thoughtful and complete account of the institutional and organizational structure and a nice urban reflection around scale. It showed a clear account of the disaster context, the relevance to the competition’s brief and how the proposal can reduce vulnerabilities and enhance resilience to disasters. It was the most complete entry.

Runner Up

Living in the edge. Landscape urbanism in Chile, Concepción, Chile by Rob Naulaers / KUL and Amalia Checa / UNIZAR, from KULeuven Department of architecture / Universidad de Zaragoza-UNIZAR Faculty of Engineering, Leuven and Zaragoza, Belgium and Spain.

It was selected for the very interesting decision to start the reflection from the territorial scale rather than the site which helped to structure a careful urban connection and a careful social spatial analysis. It was a very complete entry with a pleasant aesthetical and striking proposal. The design solution was highly debated in the jury and show a careful reflection on typology and technology. This entry addressed the main points that were invited to be developed in the competition brief, presenting a comprehensive approach, using architecture as a facilitator and going beyond the scale of housing.

Honorable Mentions

Other proposals that were considered by the members of the jury were: ‘Colorful Opportunity’, ‘Escuela Semilla –Haiti’, ‘Acuerdos Habitacionales’, ‘Hilo’ and ‘Rural patchwork’. The Jury encourages them to continue developing proposals and to contribute to much needed architectural design alternatives for disaster affected or at risk areas. 

Read more about all of the entries.

Summaries of Conference Proceedings

To read about each day's proceedings please visit the DPU blog, where a series of posts cover the presentations that were made. We will be making the recordings of the plenary sessions available on the website soon – please check back for that and look out for updates via Facebook (on the DPU or i-Rec pages) and Twitter.

In the coming months we will be making a selection of the formal conference proceedings available via the i-Rec conference website, along with a practice oriented briefing.

Further Information

If you would like to be a part of the network and attend future events please sign up at the official website and join the Facebook group to follow the discussions.