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Integrating Shelter Design and Disaster Education in Architectural Curriculum

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Architectural Engineering Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Architectural Engineering

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Paper Authors


Sudarshan Krishnan University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Sudarshan Krishnan specializes in the area of lightweight structures. His current research focuses on the structural design and behavior of cable-strut systems and transformable structures. His accompanying interests include the study of elastic and geometric structural stability. He teaches courses on the planning, analysis and design of structural systems. He has also developed a new course on deployable structures and transformable architecture. As an architect and structural designer, he has worked on a range of projects that included houses, hospitals, recreation centers, institutional buildings, and conservation of historic buildings/monuments.

Professor Sudarshan serves on the Working Group-6: Tensile and Membrane Structures of the International Association of Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS), the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) Aerospace Division's Space Engineering and Construction Technical Committee, and the ASCE/ACI-421 Technical Committee on the Design of Reinforced Concrete Slabs. He is the Program Chair of the Architectural Engineering Division of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). He is also a member of the Structural Stability Research Council (SSRC).

From 2004-2007, Professor Sudarshan served on the faculty of the School of Architecture and ENSAV-Versailles Study Abroad Program in France. He has been a recipient of the “Excellence in Teaching Award” from the Illinois School of Architecture and the "Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching" from the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been consistently listed on the University of Illinois' "List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent/Outstanding by their Students” for 16 different architecture and civil engineering courses.

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Yuan Liao University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Yuan Liao is a Ph.D. student in the Illinois School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He holds a M.Arch degree from UIUC and a Bachelor of Arts degree from China Academy of Art. His current research focuses on transformable structures and its application to adaptive architecture. He works on scissor-based structures with emphasis on geometric design, kinematic analysis, and joint design. The application he is currently working on is emergency shelters.

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Education of the public is greatly important in order to change the approach to disasters from reactive to preventative. However, this does not eliminate the need to constantly upgrade and improve the designs of disaster-relief structures. Disaster-relief shelters are crucial to the post-disaster rescue and recovery as millions of people are affected by various catastrophes which have only increased over the years. Architects and engineers can contribute greatly to the education of society about shelter design strategies for various disasters.

This paper focuses on earthquakes, floods, megafires and hurricanes, and the potential design response to counter each of them. Design solutions based on modularity and deployability are reasonable considering the benefits of compactness, ease of storage, transportation, and reuse. A series of prototype designs are presented to illustrate their design features and efficiency.

The paper also discusses how an architectural curriculum may be enhanced by infusing service-learning and real-world opportunities by including studios and seminars on disaster-relief shelter design and education. They may be offered to students in architecture, urban planning, social work, education and allied disciplines. The outcome of these courses may be developed as educational aids for use in schools, local communities and for the general public in order to help with the understanding of local conditions, potential disasters, design strategies and prototype shelter designs.

Key Words: disaster-relief, shelter, modularity, deployability, architectural education, community, service-learning

Krishnan, S., & Liao, Y. (2019, June), Integrating Shelter Design and Disaster Education in Architectural Curriculum Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32990

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