Sustainability Summit

Learn, design and adapt: Lessons on designing a disaster-resilient building 

Since the 1980s to now, weather-related damage losses have risen from over $50 billion annually to some $200 billion every year. And there’s more to come, with the CSIRO warning that the cost of replacing buildings exposed to extreme weather events could exceed $1 trillion in Australia by the end of this century.  It’s far more cost-effective to design new buildings that can withstand these risks through sustainable architecture and climate change adaptation than it is to retrospectively repair existing properties. While it’s always been important for architects to design sustainable buildings that can not only survive extreme weather conditions within the lifetime of that building, its equally important that these buildings and the communities in which they are situated are able to thrive well into the future.

But what have we really learned about designing places that we use as shelter during times of disaster? And how can communities better adapt to be more resilient to the ever-increasing frequency of catastrophic events?

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this presentation, you should be able to:

  • Outline the documented increase in weather-related damage to property over the past 40 years.
  • Identify the reasons for this trend and the degree to which it is expected to continue or even increase.
  • Explain the ways in which design can be used to minimise the negative affects of these extreme weather events.
  • Outline the ways in which our understanding of buildings as places of shelter from extreme weather has changed and increased over time.

(Competency Codes: Design: PC 12, PC 24, PC 28)

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Session Information

View the 2023 Sustainability Summit on demand.



Ramona Meyricke

Taylor Fry


Dr Leonardo Moraes

University of Melbourne


Mathew Press

NSW Building commission


Professor Hilary Bambrick

The Australian National University


Sam Bowstead