Conference paper
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Abstract: Resilience is often understood as the ability to “bounce back” from adversity, and has been used for some time in ecological and psychological settings. However, applying the concept to human settlements presents many challenges, even when considering a single risk source, such as bushfires. Fundamentally, the concept of resilience in its ecological meaning requires that a resilient species be one that has received multiple “shocks” over time, from which it has adapted, leaving it more able to withstand future shocks. This concept requires considerable modification if it is to be applied to the physical arrangements of human settlements as they relate to bushfire. Importantly, human systems of resilience can be improved by the development and application of collective knowledge. In terms of bushfire, there is currently limited empirical knowledge of urban design principles to improve resilience, despite the considerable energy focussed upon improving buildings’ ability to withstand radiant heat, and fire modelling. This paper uses the case of the Bendigo 2009 bushfire in Victoria, Australia. It considers why certain parts of the built-up area in Bendigo were more susceptible to bushfire-attack than others, as a base for development of key urban design principles to increase settlement resilience to bushfire. In particular, issues such as density, urban morphology, and distribution are considered. It is argued that particular settlement design elements are influential in determining the impacts of a typical bushfire on urban boundaries, and upon the resilience of settlements.

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