“We have to design for the future.”
Carlo Negri, International Director for overseas projects at Sweco
Published on: July 24, 2023
Water and food security are now more than ever topics that need careful consideration. Ask Carlo Negri, International Director for overseas projects at Sweco in Sweden. “You can’t just be sustainable, it’s not enough. You have to design for the future, to be able to adapt,” he says.
“Resilience involves thinking about the future – future proofing,” says Negri. As an architect, he is involved in building projects, urban design and masterplan projects in a number of different countries and wherever interesting challenges can be found.
“Whenever we at Sweco work on projects, it’s not solely about developing an attractive building as an architect and then thinking ‘How do we make it sustainable?’. It’s really about an integrated process of exploration where sustainable system thinking and architecture come together.”
Has the view of resilience and its importance changed over the past few years?
“In some ways no, because inherently sustainability is about resilience. But now it’s become a more prominent theme. You can’t just be sustainable, it’s not enough. We have to design for the future, so you’re able to adapt in an agile way.”
He further notes that the many acute, short-term crises of recent years are placing new demands on resilience.
Being resilient is about being able to adapt, absorb and recover after events that might occur.
It is essential for today’s architects to both comply with requirements and consider how to adapt local conditions to specific circumstances. For example, they should take into account any risk analyses of extreme stresses like earthquakes or other extreme weather risks like flooding and storms, heat waves.
“We need to do things in a way so that communities can absorb and recover faster, to allow for shocks and stresses that may happen again to be managed, like with the pandemic. And when they happen, we have to think of how we absorb and recover. As we go forward in time, how can we do things in a way that builds longer term resilience as well? How do we adapt and transform the design so if it happens again in the future it’s less of a shock?”
Negri has been involved in pilot projects that have showcased low-carbon, innovative and livable cities in Taicang, China. These projects aim to increase renewable energy by over 50 percent, improve buildings’ energy efficiency by 80 percent, reuse domestic waste resources, reduce car travel and improve public transportation.
“Water and food security are big topics. We have been working in China on how to become more resilient with these aspects. How is local production possible? And not just agriculture for food but also agriculture for building resilience. Using local materials for buildings as well as growing the food and by that becoming a circular system.”
Another international resilience project addresses food security in the Middle East.
“They import 85 percent of their food, so it’s really important to build resilience in the food system, and to use water in a very resilient way to grow food because water is also scarce.”
The Food Innovation Park in Dubai
The Food Innovation Park in Dubai, UAE, is a concept project that aims to tackle major global issues including food and water security as well as scarcity by creating a place that is driven by innovation. The project envisions an area where start-up companies and food industry experts are based along with functions like R&D facilities, an innovation centre and a smart food logistics hub.
Photo Credit: August Wiklund
In a new White Paper, “Resource-based communities, from wasteful to resourceful – optimizing energy, water and food systems” experts present key measures to build resilient communities. This white paper explores the importance of ensuring access to energy, water and food in case of an emergency, a failure, a disruption, or any other risk, through principles and good practices that go beyond the crisis situation and seek to generate systemic change.
About Carlo Negri
International Director for Overseas Projects at Sweco in Sweden. As an architect, he is involved in building projects, urban design and masterplan projects in a number of different countries and wherever interesting challenges can be found.