The pandemic gave literal meaning to the idea that our homes are a refuge, a place to seek shelter during uncertain and unsafe times. It’s a concept that designers and architects worldwide are taking more seriously than ever—not just in the event of another pandemic, but also because of climate change.
On a global scale, severe weather is becoming more of an issue. Wildfires, floods, hurricanes and winter storms are getting more frequent and more devastating. Sea levels continue to rise, posing threats to coastal properties around the world. A report released by the United Nations in August found that even if countries were to drastically reduce their emissions tomorrow, the total global temperature is likely to rise around 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 F) within the next two decades, all but ensuring an increase in severe weather events. So, how are designers and architects—particularly those working in vulnerable regions—taking these issues into account when designing homes meant to last for generations?
California designers are already facing a litany of climate-related challenges, including droughts, wildfires and rising sea levels. “While it’s great to work with clients who are committed to reducing the carbon footprint of their home, a big piece of this is accepting that disaster may already be upon us,” says Sarah Barnard, a designer based in Santa Monica. “If that’s the case, what are the things we can do to better protect ourselves and our