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According to Swiss Re, there are currently approximately 180 urban disasters globally per year. Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the vulnerability of cities and the ability of humans to exacerbate the magnitude and intensity of man-made and/or natural hazards. The changes produced after a disaster can imply multiple adverse impacts including health risks, disruption to energy and water supply, and ecological imbalances. Post-disaster reconstruction, in this context, provides not only the necessity for a community to return to its pre-disaster state, but as Burby states, a “window of opportunity” to enhance resilience, and, in essence, to ‘regenerate’. These ‘windows of opportunity’ allow exploration to plan more globally, assess community social viability, foster adaptation and examine the technical issues of flooding, retrofits, location, and building energy efficiency. The multiple dimensions of resilience in urban settings are paramount to preserving community stability, as well as long-term sustainability.

The concept of resilient design and planning uses both technical and social strategies to increase a community’s resilience. Post-disaster environments must address structural-technical issues (such as sea levels, proximity to major infrastructure, and quality of infrastructure) and social issues (such as community participation, policy and integrated design processes) that are vital for a community’s long-term survival. In this instance, community participation is vital both during the planning process and at the level of the individual project. Drawing from post-disaster reconstruction New Orleans, and in particular the Make It Right project, this paper evaluates the ways in which resilient design and planning are put into action. This article will consider the links between regenerative design and resilience at the three scales of building, neighborhood, and city, focusing on the process of the design approach, and impacts on resilience, “regeneration,” and on collective action. In addition, it examines how design for a built environment that has ecological, social and infrastructural resiliencies contributes positively to human and natural systems, and reduces vulnerability. This paper concludes with a comprehensive set of criteria that can be used to evaluate whether a built environment supports resilience and “regeneration” in both the short- and long-term. As the issues of short and long-term resilience will expand, so will the need to revise the criteria from which sustainability will continue to emerge.

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This article was published as part of a special issue on the subject of city resilience. Edited by: Eric Duchemin, Bruno Barroca and Damien Serre.

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