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My project is not one which can be presented simply as a design issue and an appropriate architectural solution. There are many architectural issues raised throughout the project and the goal is not to wholly solve them but to bring the issues to light and to analyze and interpret them in hopes of reaching some greater understanding of architecture’s role in a physically unstable environment.
I first became interested in the topic of architecture and natural disaster in the year following Hurricane Katrina. There seemed to be a lot of ideas on how to rebuild the gulf coast and repair what was lost. The Mississippi Renewal Forum, for example, was a massive planning and design charrette which aimed to create new master plans for eleven Gulf Coast towns. Also, the Gulf Coast Pattern Book was created as a reference of building types for the destroyed region. While I understand these steps as necessary in order to tackle the enormous job of replacing the built environments of the entire coast, I wondered if simply replacing what was lost in the “right” style was the solution.
As the controversy over whether or not to rebuild in certain areas of New Orleans arose, and the longer residents remained in temporary FEMA trailers with no signs of change, I realized that the emotional scars of the situation were beginning to out rank the physical ones. I wanted to know if architecture could act dually as necessary shelter and a means to heal a scarred landscape. This was the point of departure for my thesis project. From here I there I began extensively researching how natural disasters have affected architecture and specifically how one small town, Pass Christian, MS, could restore its identity through architecture in the face of recurring disaster threats.