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Disturbances – Early detection as a prerequisite for resilience
1  Dipl-Ing. Architekt (Univers.), Bayrische Architektenkammer München


Every city represents a storehouse of memories. At the same time today’s cities are dynamic systems characterized by constant change. Technical and architectural structures of different scales that are approaching the end of their utilization cycles must be identified and reviewed. My paper will propose to extend the term resilience as the early detection of spatial or functional disturbances within the cities infrastructure followed by a strategy for maintaining the state or use of the building or structure. Using the example of our architectural practice for a conversion of a former thermal power station in Munich, I will present how a revision of the conventional assessment strategy resulted in a transformation of an obsolete piece of technical infrastructure again into a dynamic architectural and social system. Since then we have been searching for methods to identify similar potential in obsolete pieces of infrastructure and to react on disruptions in the urban environment. In the end architects – using their expertise – could turn into early detectors to identify these disruptions and by that give new meaning to the whole profession that has reached a turning point in constantly creating the “new” - while often wasting resources, materials and labour force. Instead of reacting on questions of fashion, style and floor area, architects may convince their clients to reshape the cities of tomorrow by puncturing the urban environment where its needed. That is the new “new”: parallel to the usual planning from scratch on whiteboards we must take into account the potential of the cities obsolete infrastructure and transform it into useful architecture to avoid areas of decay. For this is how resilience becomes possible: As the ability of a system to react to disruptions, to use them to renew itself, without changing its core.

Keywords: city; dynamic system; change; utilisation cycle; detection; conversion; power station; Munich; disturbance; public; expertise; detectors; early stage; resilience