About HARB

Never has the demand been so urgent for development and community workers, architects, engineers and other built environment professionals to respond to the design and planning challenges of resettling refugees and rebuilding post-disaster sites and cities. Through three multi-disciplinary platforms of research, teaching and consultancy projects, HARB focuses on the role and capacity of built environment professionals after disaster, through seeking spatial solutions for vulnerable communities.

Humanitarian Architecture Research Bureau
RMIT University Design Hub
Building 100 Level 9
Corner of Swanston and Victoria St
Carlton, Victoria, Australia 3053

Email: esther.charlesworth@rmit.edu.au

HARB Teaching: Master of Disaster, Design and Development (MoDDD) degree

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HARB has pioneered a postgraduate program at RMIT, the Master of Disaster, Design and Development (MoDDD). MoDDD provides an online global learning platform that will enable you to work locally and internationally in the disaster and development fields, harnessing community-based, interdisciplinary design thinking. Applications are now open for the July 2018 intake. Visit RMIT MoDDD for more information.

HARB People

Professor Esther Charlesworth

Esther CharlesworthEsther Charlesworth is a Professor in the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT University, Melbourne and Academic Director of the Masters of Disaster, Design and Development (MoDDD) degree. She undertook her Masters Degree in Architecture and Urban Design at Harvard University and her PhD at the University of York (UK). She is also the founding Director of Architects without Frontiers (AWF). She has worked in architecture and urban design practices in Melbourne, Sydney, Boston and New York and previously lectured in design at the University of Melbourne, QUT and The American University of Beirut. She has published widely on the theme of social justice and architecture, including CityEdge: Contemporary Case Studies in Urbanism (2005), Architects without Frontiers: War, Reconstruction and Design Responsibility (2006), Divided Cities (2009) The EcoEdge (2011), Live Projects (2012); Humanitarian Architecture (2014) and Sustainable Housing Reconstruction. For more see Esther’s RMIT staff page.

Dr Judy Rogers

Judy RogersDr Judy Rogers is Program Manager of the Master of Disaster, Design and Development. Prior to joining the MoDDD team she was program manager of a double degree in Landscape Architecture and Urban and Regional planning in the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT. Her research focus is multidisciplinary, incorporating design, planning, policy and sustainability science. She has researched and written on urban sustainability challenges with a particular focus on the discursive construction of ‘sustainable’ cities and the implications of these understandings on social equity and resilience. She has also maintained an on-going reflective practice in the field of Education for Sustainability. Qualifications include a PhD focusing on Sustainable City Policy, a Master of Environmental Science and an undergraduate degree in History.

Professor John Fien

John FienJohn Fien is Professor of Practice in the interdisciplinary field of Disaster, Design and Development. He has been involved in the MoDDD degree program since its beginning, and has helped prepare and teach core courses such as Disaster, Design and Development, Building Urban Resilience and Shelter and Settlement, as well as electives such as Humanitarian Architecture and Climate Change, Design and Disaster. His role now focuses on developing national and global partnerships and fostering an applied research culture in HARB. John has been a Professor at Griffith and Swinburne Universities as well as RMIT and has led development projects and evaluations in several countries, including: Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, The Philippines and Fiji. This has involved working with agencies such as The World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF UNEP, AusAID, OECD and WWF-International. For more see John's RMIT staff page.

Dr Leila Irajifar

Leila IrajifarLeila is an interdisciplinary academic working at the intersection of urban planning, design and disaster management. Her research tackles the challenges of operationalising urban resilience, post-disaster reconstruction and her recent research focuses on the applications of complex systems theory in urban resilience planning and developing models to better understand these complexities and interdependencies in the face of climate change and other social and environmental hazards. Leila holds a bachelor in architecture and a masters in post-disaster reconstruction from Shahid Beheshti University in Iran. She earned her PhD in urban resilience planning from Griffith University in Australia. She had been involved in UN-Habitat’s City Resilience Profiling Program in Barcelona and worked as postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Great Lakes Research at CMU before joining RMIT University. Prior to academia, she had several years of professional experience as an architect/planner in public and private practice concerning disaster management and post-disaster reconstruction projects. For more see Leila's RMIT staff page

Dr Judy Lawry

Judy LawryJudy takes a multidisciplinary approach to assisting communities identify ways to build their capacity to adapt to climate -related hazards including natural disasters. Her expertise includes facilitation of participatory communication to enable local voices to be heard in decision making, and building capacity in Adaptive Leadership and local storytelling to give voice to local communities. Judy’s research focuses on the role of communication in addressing global environmental challenges within the following contexts:

  • Communication and Media Studies
  • Management
  • Communication for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction

Dr Yazid Ninsalam

Yazid NinsalamYazid is a Lecturer in the School of Architecture and Urban Design at RMIT University, Melbourne. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture and was awarded concurrent degrees in Master of Landscape Architecture and Bachelor of Arts (Architecture) with honours from the National University of Singapore. He has worked as a landscape architect at the National Parks Board, Singapore and a doctoral researcher at the Future Cities Laboratory, established by ETH Zurich and the Singapore National Research Foundation. His research foregrounds the deployment of ubiquitous terrestrial, underwater and aerial sensing methods to produce precise local observations of human-environment conflicts that result from rapid urban transitions in Southeast Asian cities. He has published widely on the theme of landscape architecture. For more see Yazid's RMIT staff page.

Dr Linje Manyozo

Linje ManyozoLinje Manyozo is a community development practitioner and a student of society, who currently teaches Communication for Development in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. He is also a Research Associate of the Department of Development Studies, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa. Linje has also taught and directed the MSc Programme in Media, Communications and Development in the Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science (2008-2012). Linje has published three books: Communicating Development With Communities (Routledge, 2017); Media, Communication and Development (Sage, 2013) and People's Radio (Southbound, 2012). For more see Linje's's RMIT staff page.

HARB Research

HARB's completed research projects include:

Architecture on the Edge Building Sustainable Housing for Vulnerable communities

Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship, ‘Architecture on the Edge Building Sustainable Housing for Vulnerable communities’, Esther Charlesworth.

The Evaluation of Shelter Projects in the Asia Pacific Region after Disaster

‘The Evaluation of Shelter Projects in the Asia Pacific Region after Disaster’, Esther Charlesworth and Ifte Ahmed with Caritas.

Building Resilience of Urban Slum Settlements in Dhaka project

‘Building Resilience of Urban Slum Settlements in Dhaka project’, Ifte Ahmed and Esther Charlesworth with Habitat for Humanity and ARUP.

European Commission (Partner) EIP10-SCC Action Cluster Citizen Focus

‘To facilitate stakeholder conversations where citizens’ voices are heard and instrumental in solution design’, Judy Lawry.

Malcolm Moore Industry Research Award

‘Increasing local level engagement to build resilient communities’, Judy Lawry.

Victorian State Emergency Services

‘Citizen Engagement and participatory strategic planning processes in East Gippsland Victoria’, Judy Lawry.

Country Fire Authority Victoria

‘The desirability of an online tool to enhance bushfire planning and preparation at the household level’, Judy Lawry.

HARB Selected Publications

Selected books & book chapters

Sustainable Housing Reconstruction: Designing Resilient Housing after Disasters

Through case studies from Australia, Bangladesh, Haiti, Sri Lanka, the USA and Vietnam, this new book by Esther Charlesworth and Ifte Ahmed, Sustainable Housing Reconstruction focuses on the housing reconstruction process after natural disasters. Post-disaster housing is shown to be not only about rebuilding destroyed houses, but also building safer homes and a resilient community; the book highlights community involvement and integration with community infrastructure and livelihoods as key elements of effective reconstruction. According to a reviewer, Brett Moore, who has extensive experience in the field as World Vision's Shelter and Reconstruction Advisor, "This detailed and colourful book is essential reading for those involved, covering a range of disasters, typologies and program approaches, putting the interests of affected people at the centre of the debate." (Routledge Press, London, 2015) PDF flyer / Amazon / Book Depository.

Humanitarian Architecture: 15 stories of architects working after disaster

Architects Without Frontiers: War, reconstruction and design responsibility

Divided Cities: Belfast, Beirut, Jerusalem, Mostar, and Nicosia

Co-producing Knowledge for Sustainable Cities: Joining Forces for Change

Fudge, C. and Fien J, chapter 6. Routledge 2015. Routledge.

Sustainability Citizenship in Cities: Theory and Process

Fien J. and others, chapters 1 & 3. Routledge 2016. Routledge.

Communicating Development with Communities

Manyozo, L., Routledge 2017. RMIT Research Repository.

Selected journal articles & papers

Creation and Catastrophe

This symposium was held at the RIBA in London on April 7th 2016. PDF report (2MB)

Communication, collaboration and advocacy: a study of participatory action research to address climate change in the Pacific

Burnside-Lawry, J. Franquet, R. Wairiu, M. Holland, E. and Chand, S. 2017, in The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Common Ground Publishing, United States, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 11-33 ISSN: 1835-7156. In March 2018 this article won a Common Ground International Award for Excellence. It is now available free at CG Scholar.

Breaching the urban contract: Lessons from post disaster reconstruction from research on five divided cities

Charlesworth, E. and Fien J. 2014, in International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 5 Issue: 2, pp.194-201, Emerald.

Beyond anticipation. Designing climate futures

Rogers, J. and Werner, J. 2015, in Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA 2015), Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Inc, New South Wales, Australia, pp. 493-504 (HERDSA 2015).

The Impact of urban form on disaster resiliency: A case study of Brisbane and Ipswich, Australia

Irajifar, L., Sipe, N., Alizadeh. T., 2016, in International journal of disaster resiliency in built environment 7(3).

Neighbourhood Disaster Resilience Index: A validation in the context of Brisbane and Ipswich 2010/2011 floods

Irajifar, L., Sipe, N., Alizadeh. T., 2016, in Proceedings of the State of Australian Cities National Conference, 9-11 December 2015, Gold Coast, Australia.

Resilience Assessment: Recovery of Brisbane Neighbourhood after 2011 floods

Irajifar, L., Alizadeh. T., Sipe, N., 2015, in Proceedings of the 7th International iRec Conference. 6-8 July 2015. University College London, London, UK.

Modeling and visualization of safe areas for locating temporary settlements for affected residents in case of dam failure

Sargolzie, S., Sepasgozar, S., Irajifar, L., Al Jassmi, H., 2014, 14th International conference on construction applications of virtual reality in construction, 2014, Sharjah, UAE.

A stakeholder approach to building community resilience: awareness to implementation

Burnside-Lawry, J. and Carvalho, L. 2016, in International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Emerald, United Kingdom, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 4-25 ISSN: 1759-5908.

Collaboration and communication: Building a research agenda and way of working towards community disaster resilience

Rogers, P. Burnside-Lawry, J. Dragisic, J. and Mills, C. 2016, in Disaster Prevention and Management, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, United Kingdom, London, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 75-90 ISSN: 0965-3562.

Critical reflections in the theory versus practice debates in communication for development training

Manyozo, L. 2016, in MedieKultur:Journal of media and communication research, vol. 32, no. 61, pp. 116-134, RMIT Research Repository.