How should places like St. Martin be rebuilt?
With France’s commitment to redesign and rebuild a new St Martin, there is an immediate need to address important questions. City Planners, leading architecture and real estate development firms superficially address sustainability, but they really have not addressed issues of severe weather and sea level rise.
And with this opportunity to rebuild St Martin as a model for future development, it’s imperative that neighborhoods and infrastructure are designed to better integrate the local population with the tourist facilities. Too many tourist destinations worldwide have become fortresses that protect tourists and isolate the local population, which leads to economic inequality and social conflict. Its a moral imperative that tourist development is symbiotic and integrated with the needs of the local population. Good design and infrastructure is essential.
Any planning and development needs to address these questions:
How should buildings and infrastructure be designed to better protect the population during seal level rise, flooding and windstorms?
Throughout the Caribbean exclusive tourist resorts are too often fortresses with walls and security separating these pristine tourist compounds from the local populations. Does it have to be that way? How can design and infrastructure help?
How can government sponsored rebuilding be a catalyst for small locally-owned business entrepreneurship? If re-design only benefits large corporations that expatriates profits, then tourists destinations like St. Martin will inherently be unstable and not sustainable. Local people must haves a vested interest in the success of the tourist destinations.
Its is now an economic and moral imperative for government, planners, developers, and architects to plan and design not only to prevent or delay climate change, but also to plan and build now for sea level rise and extreme weather. We must embrace the concept of the post-flood cities, not just prevention.