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Place-remaking, Place-building and Place-keeping

Post-crisis conditions as a result of conflict, natural disaster, criminal activity or pandemic are extremely tricky to fully comprehend and respond to.

However, there are common denominators in these complex systems of emotional entanglement and distress. The built environment and the places people experience within it are an essential common denominator. The places left in post-crisis conditions are fundamental aspects of any humanitarian response and require a careful and cohesive approach to maximise their humanitarian potential and aid healthy socioeconomic recovery.

Place- remaking: don’t demolish broken, unused or socially complicated structures. If removed or hidden, social and individual memories and the meaning that these places resonate locally along with the building’s embodied energy will be lost forever. Poorly addressing these places will help erode the local area’s orientation and sense of place. The resident's sense of belonging and identity will weaken. If these areas are homogenized, there are fewer reasons for local people to stay, contribute or sustain their local culture, thus heightening the risk of social disorientation, anxiety, unrest and eventually lead to migration.

Re-using buildings with social value make sense culturally, economically, socially and offers an opportunity to recognise and acknowledge past upheavals healthier and productive way.

Place-building: layering old and new, recognises and quietly acknowledges the past without adding judgment, and embracing the new, without adverse agenda. Together, old and new moments will build new character and an authentic sense of identity and resilience, just as the residents could in parallel.

Let these places speak, rather than what has been the temptation in the past, which was to remove, repurpose, replace, repaint and assign these spatial accounts of upheaval to the shadows of amnesia.

Place-keeping: Don’t leave the past to carefully curated expression of victim and perpetrator binaries, narrated by paid strangers and reduced to plaques in museums and on monuments. Which has been a cosmopolitan approach that gives little credence to the everyday context and complications of disasters. An approach that often results in further frustration, antagonistic unrest and the possibility of jeopardising any hard-earned peace.

*Above Image:The Shankill Road bombing 1993 by unknown photographer


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