Designing To Avoid Disaster : The Nature of Fracture-Critical Design book cover
1st Edition

Designing To Avoid Disaster
The Nature of Fracture-Critical Design

ISBN 9780415527361
Published August 28, 2012 by Routledge
272 Pages

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Book Description

Recent catastrophic events, such as the I-35W bridge collapse, New Orleans flooding, the BP oil spill, Port au Prince's destruction by earthquake, Fukushima nuclear plant's devastation by tsunami, the Wall Street investment bank failures, and the housing foreclosure epidemic and the collapse of housing prices, all stem from what author Thomas Fisher calls fracture-critical design. This is design in which structures and systems have so little redundancy and so much interconnectedness and misguided efficiency that they fail completely if any one part does not perform as intended. If we, as architects, planners, engineers, and citizens are to predict and prepare for the next disaster, we need to recognize this error in our thinking and to understand how design thinking provides us with a way to anticipate unintended failures and increase the resiliency of the world in which we live.

In Designing to Avoid Disaster, the author discusses the context and cultural assumptions that have led to a number of disasters worldwide, describing the nature of fracture-critical design and why it has become so prevalent. He traces the impact of fracture-critical thinking on everything from our economy and politics to our educational and infrastructure systems to the communities, buildings, and products we inhabit and use everyday. And he shows how the natural environment and human population itself have both begun to move on a path toward a fracture-critical collapse that we need to do everything possible to avoid. We designed our way to such disasters and we can design our way out of them, with a number of possible solutions that Fisher provides.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Designed Catastrophes  Part 1  1. The Increasing Incidence of Disasters  2. Our Planetary Ponzi Scheme  3. Fracture-Critical Design  4. Disasters on Demand  5. The Anti-Shock Doctrine  6. Redefining Success  Part 2  7. Fracture-Critical Species  8. Re-sizing the Human Footprint  9. Fracture-Critical Population  10. Protective Design  11. Fracture-Critical Economy  12. Rethinking Work  13. Fracture-Critical Politics  14. Reimagining Government  15. Fracture-Critical Higher Education  16. Redesigning the University  17. Fracture-Critical Infrastructure  18. Going Dutch  19. Fracture-Critical Developments  20. A Better Way to Dwell  21. Fracture-Critical Buildings  22. Designing for Durability  23. Fracture-Critical Consumption  24. Creative Citizen Consumption  Part 3  25. Why We Have So Much Bad Design  26. The Design Mind  27. The Process of Design  28. The Logic of Design  29. The Pragmatics of Design  30. The Holon of Design  31. Designing our Future  32. What We Can Live Without  33. The Adulthood of the Species  34. Media, Metaphor, and Meaning  35. The Nature of Things to Come  36. Hell or Paradise?  Endnotes

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Fisher, Thomas


"In this essential book Fisher takes us through ‘fracture-critical’ design failures and provides solutions by articulating how ‘resilient design’ is the key to our longevity as a species. The research behind this theory spans many disciplines though the writing is accessible to all. This is required reading for designers, planners, politicians and citizens."

Michael Zaretsky, architect and associate professor, University of Cincinnati, Ohio

"Tom Fisher challenges us to think about disasters in a new way: not as the inevitable result of nature, but rather, problems that we can design our way out of. We, and the environments we create, are not the victims of circumstance. We can save ourselves through informed design and make a new world that rewards intelligence and foresight. In this book, Fisher throws us a life preserver of design. "

Michael J. Crosbie, architecture critic and associate dean, University of Hartford, Connecticut