Landscape Frameworks for Resilient Coastal Cities: Work in Progress in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

a group of people posing outside a brick building

Researchers gather outside the Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona, the headquarters of the U.N. Human Settlements Program. photo / provided

Together with U.N.-Habitat experts, students from the departments of Landscape Architecture and City and Regional Planning have been working with associate professor of landscape architecture Maria Goula to provide a long-term vision for landscape resilience in Cagayan de Oro, a city in the Philipines. In addition to working on campus, the group has participated in two design workshops held at the headquarters of the U.N. Human Settlements Program located in Barcelona.

"Instead of creating walls or levies to avoid flooding, we can consider creating accessible terraced areas — an old, worldwide technique to multiply arable space — for water retention, biodiversity, recreation, or even food production. Integrating systems such as infrastructure, housing, leisure, green space, production, culture, and even governance under the lens and instrumentality of landscape architecture is a key strategy for long-term resiliency," according to Goula.

In close collaboration with the U.N. officers in Barcelona, Goula's students are developing visions on resiliency along the coast of Cagayan de Oro. Using existing data in addition to compiling their own, the team's visions include working with water-retention patterns along rivers, improving site conditions for relocation settlements, and designing residential landscapes and food production sites. This exhibition will detail their work to date.

The experience was made possible by funding from an Internationalizing the Cornell Curriculum Grant from Global Cornell, and a 2016 agreement between Cornell and the City Resilience Profiling Program at U.N.-Habitat which will facilitate the exchange of expertise and provide knowledge to coastal communities that are permanently threatened by various types of hazards including climate change.