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How can a martial arts' philosophy be applied to the way we design for
locations susceptible to landslides?

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Published by Elkhan Julian, 2016-09-12 10:59:36

Wing Chun: Zhipeng Cai

How can a martial arts' philosophy be applied to the way we design for
locations susceptible to landslides?

Keywords: wing chun,philosophy

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How can a martial arts' philosophy be applied to the way we design for
locations susceptible to landslides?

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1 Contents

Abstract 2
I nt rod uct ion 4
Initial Research Interest 6
Catastrophe/Disasters 6

~I ~ vd l IVIarCOS 9 8 Salvador
11 Social <Dndition
Sub· 1ie" 12 1
I 15 Negative Effects-
Landslide Causes 14 I 15 Positive Effects +

Landslide Triggers 14

I 17 Ph il osophy : Wing Ch u n

Wing O'tun Kung Fu $j( ;ft..;;}] :k 18 I

Technique Introduction 20 I

Landscape Architecture vs Wing Olun 28 I

Precedents: SiglufjorOur 32 1 31 Precedents
Precedents: Blue Isles Plan 34

Precedents: Sabo 36 I

Japanese Sabo Works .!iJ F1i 36 I

1 43 Design Interventions

Scenario I nt roduct ion 46 I
Landslide Section, Time Cycle, Scenario 46 48 I
Avoidrng: Problem
Avoiding: Summary 54

Redirecting: Energy 56 I

1 61 Redirecting: Summary

Scenario: Redirecting Event 62 I

Controlling: Row 64 I 73 Scenario: <Dntrolling Event
<Dntrolling: Summary 72

Pro t ecting/ Diffusing : Life/ Power 74 I

The Way of the Bamboo 78 I 79 G.Jadua angustifolia

I 81 Significance of Bamboo
I 83 Protecting/ Diffusing: Summary
Scenario: Protecting/ Diffusing Event 84
Growth of Bamboo Oop layers over time 86

Improving: Structure 88

Improving: Summary 94 I 95 Scenario: Improving Event

Dispersing: Force 96 I
Dispersing Summary 102 I
&:enario: Dispersing Event 104 I
Reacting: Event 106
Time ()ycle to Srategy Implementation 108

&:enario: Reading Event 110 I

Other Investigations: Tsunami 134 I•
Kamaishi Breakwater 134
and Trunami Mitigation Design

1 137 Conclusion

Presentation/ Exhibition 138 I

References 140 t
Bibliography 142

Abstract -")


Zhipeng Cai

Project Title:

Redirecting Land M::>rphologies

Designing with catastrophic landocape events

Research Q.lestion:

How can a martial arts' philosophy be applied to
the way we design for locations susceptible to


My project explores opportunities in landscape
interventions that consider how we might design for
and live with the catastrophic landscape event of

My design approach is based on redirection and the
transfer of energy; through softness and flexibility,
rather than rigidity. In adapting the concept of
'acceptance' from my martial arts practice of Wing
Chun kung fu and applying it to my practice of
landscape architecture, landslides can be recognised
as a natural process of land morphology; one of
opportunity rather than destruction. Therefore a
condition of inclusion rather than exclusion should
be considered when designing with landslides.

My design incorporates a strategy which addresses
the issue of urban slums in 8 Salvador, as I am
designing the landscape where these shantytowns
(tugurios) coexist with landslide events. Through
the engagement of bamboo plantations, a micro
economy is generated to support the community,
stabilising and buffering the landslides.

Fbsitioning the body with good structure in
advantageous angles, redirecting opposing
energies and dispersing focused forces, Wing Chun
practitioners are able to control, diffuse, react to
and even use a stronger opponent's attack against
them. Employing landscape architectural practices
such as cut/ fill, terracing, grading, soil retention and
planting, I am applying the Wing Chun techniques
both physically and as strategies. From this my
design interventions begin to suggest various
ways in which we might inhabit a landslide prone
landscape. This aids a new condition that will not
only allow for the survival from the catastrophe, but
also enable informal settlements to improve their
living conditions beyond a cycle of poverty.


In 201 0, natural disasters killed more than 236,000
people worldwide, affecting more than 256 million
people and cost US$81 billion in the first nine
months of 2010 in repairs.

In 2011 , the Olristchurch Earthquakes and Tohoku
Earthquake and Tsunami caused more than 15,800
deaths combined, with the overall cost being more
than US$300 billion.

As t he world begins to realise and consider the
seriousness of how we deal with calamity, it must
be said that we have lived through many disasters
throughout history. In our effort to protect ourselves
and to prevent disasters, many strategies and
methods had been devised in attempts to deter, if
not counter the destructive forces of nature.

But is this the best thing to do? Is it even possible?

Can we truly control the forces of nature?

Is rejection and prevention the only way we
can live with catastrophe?


Through my design research project, my intention
is to investigate the disaster of landslides and how
we might engage, design for and live with such
catastrophic landscape events.

By applying my martial arts philosophy to the way
I design, the concept of ·acceptance' from Wing
OlUn Kung Fu was used to suggest an alternative
interpretation of landslides that is often forgotten-
one of opportunity rather than destruction and

In my design process, I utilised my personal
experience and knowledge of Wing Cllun techniques
to translate them into strategies which can be
implemented as landscape practices. These
translations also inform the way I generated designs
for the different iterations.

My design research was conducted through the
design of seven iterations of landslide interventions:
'Avoiding Problem', 'Fedirecting Energy', 'Controlling
Row', 'Protecting Ufel Diffusing Fbwer', 'Improving
Structure', 'Dispersing Force', and 'Reacting Event', to
explore the relationship between ditferent aspects of
the site and event.

My Site is in San Marcos, 8 Salvador, and consists

predominantly of lower to middle class families
living in urban slums. Rainy season during winter
increases the risk of landslides as the city sits at the
bottom of a valley.

To demonstrate how the design strategies might
work together, a scenario was created showing a
section of the site, which gets developed over ten
years. What is also interesting is the fact that my
research looks at two different time frames -long
term development and the immediate of disa&ers.
In my last iteration, Reacting: Event, a snapshot
of a landslide occurrence on my site taken from
the eighth year of development will depict both
timeframes within a single drawing, where my
strategies had all been implemented.

With this design research project, I am advocating
a different approach to how we think about natural
disasters. Through the understanding of Wing OlUn
techniques and landscape architectural practice, I
am suggesting a method of design for natural
disasters that focuses on acceptance through
redirection , rather than rejection through
prevention .



Init1al Research Interest

Catastrophe/ Disasters

At the beginning of the project, I was originally
really interested in the topic of catastrophe and how
design might be able to help with the adaptation to,
mitigation of, preparation for, protection from and
prevention of natural disasters.

Driven by the events of the Olristchurch Earthquake
and Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, I decided that
it would be a really interesting topic to venture into
as a 1\Aasters of Landscape Architecture research

I believed that landscape architecture can play
a major role in determining how well prepared a
community, town, city and country can become, to
protect us from natural disasters.

Being optimistic and enthusiastic, I decided to
challenge myself with the task of designing for a
foreign place where I cannot access physically,
where information was also limited. I also wanted to
design for multiple disasters and eventually this led
me to discover a country which lies on the pacific
ring of fire; 8 Salvador.

The diagram on the opposite page depicts a number
of major catastrophic events and their relationship
to other events. What I realised was that disasters
do not happen in isolation, because there is a cause
and effect, there is often a secondary and tertiary

Initial Research Interest

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Pacific Ring of Rre (PA:lF. n.d )

World map

Central America B Salvador


El Salvador

8 Salvador is a country found within the Pacific
Ring of Rre and has suffered from years of civil
war as well as natural disasters, giving its capital
city the nickname "San Salvador La Oudad OJe Se
Desmorona" (San Salvador The Oty That Oumbles).

San Salvador has had a very high crime rate due
to gangs, such as the M& 13 and Galle 18, giving
it some of the highest murder rates in the world.
Corruption is also a big issue in San Salvador and
the divide between the extremely poor and the
extremely wealthy is very apparent. Although the
gang violence and corruption situation has gotten
better since 2010, there is still a large divide
between the rich and poor, in living conditions,
monetary wealth, health and safety.

Slope of Ranes de Renderos hills, San Marcos

8 Salvador's rainy season occurs in winter, known
locally as invierno, extends from May to O::tober.
Almost all the annual rainfall occurs during this
time, which makes the risk of Iandaides and floods
extremely high.

San Salvador



Focused Site 1:10000


Low High
Moderate - Extreme

Area - Total 14.7 km2

Bevation 795 m

Fbpulation (2007) - Total 75,635

San Marcos AUP (SM ALP. n.d)

San Marcos city data San Marcos doesn't have much commerce apart
from a public market and a textile industry.
Located in a small valley, San Marcos is one of the
My site is the slope of Aanes de Renderos hills at
14 municipalities of Qeat San Salvador. It is home the south part of the city.
to middle-low to middle class citizens, with the
majority of the city being classified as precarious
urban settlements (kronym is AUP in ~anish) , also
known as urban slums. These are the poorest areas
in urban parts of 8 Salvador, where access to basic
services are not acceptable.


Typical slum dwellings in 8 Salvador, (SS Slum, n.d.) Social Condition
constructed out of found material
Out of the national population of 7.1 million people
(Guatemala, n .d.) - 48% live in poverty. In 2010, 2508 AUPs were
identified in 8 Salvador, where more than two
I!legal squatter settlement million Salvadorians are living; this is more than half
on a slope, G.Jatemala the urban population. CUt of these, 1275 AUPs were
classified as extremely precarious (approximately
half), and 870,000 people live in them, most lacking
a home with "minimal sanitation and whose ability to
access basic services is very deficient." (Tim, 2004)


Slums, known locally as tugurios are often found
in hazardous landscapes because the safer areas
tend to be bought and protected by the wealthy.
Therefore their decision to build and live in locations
susceptible to landslides is not out of choice but

Because their dwellings are often made of scrap
material found by the residents, they do not have
much protection if a landslide happens. Aid from the
outside often does not address the issue either, as
they tend to be short term solutions rather than a
long term strategy.

--I :1



Wh at is a Landslide?

A landslide is defined by the Working Committee on
World Landslide Inventory as the · movement of a
mass of rock, debris or earth down a slope" where
movement is not only slide but aloo fall, topple,
spread, and flow in terms of kinematics.

It is a process of sediment movement which occurs
naturally, most of the time caused by torrential
rainfall and as such, have a higher rate of occurring
during the rainy seaoons in different rountries.

Generally landslides like most natural disasters, have
a negative connotation due to the negative effects
it brings to our society. This has caused many
governments across the globe to devise methods of
mitigation and prevention for landslides, to protect
their residents, economy and country.

Landslide Type

The landslide type I focused my research on is
known as slope failure, where generally it is a
phenomenon where a slope (or part of the slope)
collapses abruptly, due to weak soil structure
caused by excess moisture in the ground, under
the influence of heavy rain or earthquakes. It is a
dangerous type of landslide due to its nature to
collapse suddenly, usually without warning, thus
it becomes a hazard in residential areas where a
higher rate of fatalities can occur.

(LS1, n.d) ( LS2, n.d) • , ...,.•••••"~• -s-.rt.

Slope failure Debris flow (LS3, n.d)

This is the type of A type of landslides that J-1andsl ide
landslide that is occurs along streams
shown on the left The Japanese Landslide Prevention
and the type which Law defines landslide as a
occurs on my site. "phenomenon in which part of land
slides or moves downward under the
influence of groundwater or other
factors", which tends to be a slow
moving landslide. Therefore it is called
J-landslide to distinguish it from the
term landslide in the broader sense.


Landslide Causes Landslide Triggers

Human intervention : Urbanisation Snow mel t
Excess stress on top of the slope increases the Sudden increase of water in the soil.
driving force; e.g, building a house on top of the
slope. Heavy an d Prolonged Rainfall
Removal of resistance mass at the bottom decreases Increased water in the soil.
the resistance fo rce; e.g, cutting into slope to build
highway. Earthquakes
A:lor agricultural practice decreases minerals in the Liquetaction.
soil resulting in weaker structure; e.g, slash and Seismic shaking.
burn (common in poor countries).
Volcan ic act ivity
Weak Materia ls: Soil Rank collapse.
Oay is most common material associated with Eruption.
Granite and other volcanic roc:ks are also vulnerable
because of deep weathering.

Water: Groundwater
Adds weight to the soil, therefore more gravitational
pul l.
Decreases friction in the soil, therefore less sheer
strength to prevent the soil from sliding.

Gravity: Gravitat ional pu ll
Driving fo rce behind mass movement.
A:lwer to cause erosion.

I< An area at of sIope fa1'Iure damage .......

I 1/§teep slope are~ 1 /\ '
~ \I

/ : '





/ Height H

, /10Gradient = 5 m or higher)

L", /'-, '·'or higl1er

- \ I I' I I' I -- ------r/...-.I -----------......... -
..../. . ::: 1

2H (if this exceeds (SOA. n.d.)
50m. 50 m 1s the limit.)


- Negative Effects + Positive Effects

Displacement Social Economic balance
~ople losmg t"te~r place to stay because the1r Landslides keep land values down, as it makes
an area hazardous. This provides opportunities
oomes were destroyed. for the lower class to take over the land (which
is dangerous, but if managed well it can become
Econom 1c loss a starting point for them to move up in the social
Darrage to properties. ladder).
Cbst of rehabilitation.
Ecology: Cllange of habitat
Infrastructure In streams, naturally ocx:urring landslides can
Destroyed build1ngs roads br dges. etc and the cost be good for the fish, as it brings logs that they
used to feed and take shelter in: a change in the
of rebuilding. habitat that keeps the stream varied and healthy.

Loss of l1fe New soil
~pie gett 'lg k ed by landslide force. Landslides bring new soil, sometimes full of
organic matter which is good for agriculture.
Env1ronm ental
La'lldscape surface change
Destruct O'l of vegetat1on and wild lifc.

I chose the disaster of landslides to be my research
subject because it's a phenomenon which changes
the form of the lands::ape, and is therefore
somewhat feasible to design with, as a landscape

Whilst I understand the reason why people think
of landslides as a hazard, a problem, what I
am arguing is that it can actually be seen and
interpreted as a positive, but to do that one
must be able to accept and recognize that it is a
naturally occurring phenomenon of earth, or land
morphology. It is a process of roil depostion, and
in most cases, stabilization as well. Landslides carry
various benefits besides the initial and immediate
destruction. It allows for new soil to be deposited
which can benefit new plant growth in areas where
nutrients are lacking; it brings debris which can
become habitat for certain animals, which in some
cases are essential to their survival. These positive
effects are opportunities for survival, but can only

be recognized in the long run. As ruch, landslides

also become beneficial to the development of
disadvantaged communities, where the risks
become overshadowed by the opportunity the slope
presents, in the form of space for living.


- .!;J MJII


Wing Olun Kung Fu

Wing OlUn Kung Fu is a style of Olinese martial
art which specialises in dose range combat ,
utilising direct attacks along a 'centre line' to defeat
an opponent with a focus on the 'economy of


Wing Olun Rlilosophy is based on the Taoist
principle to "take the middle road" which implies
that you should not focus too heavily on a single
quality. You should be able to see both left and
right, not favouring one side over the other. This is
carried through to three of the main principles of
Wing Olun:

The Cent rel ine Theory- strike and protect the
centre line, as this is the shortest distance between
you and your opponent; a straight line.

Economy of Movement - no wasted movements,
simplicity and directness is emphasized.

Simultaneous attack and defend - to build on
the principle economy of movement, where you
attack and defend in one motion, therefore not
wasting energy and time.

Grandmaster lp Wen preforming the Sil Nim Tau
form, this helps to train your centreline.

(l p Man , n.d.)


Centreline theory Economy of Movement

The centreline is one of the main principles of Wing The principle economy of movement is simple; use
Chun. A person's centreline is an imaginary vertical as less energy as possible to defeat the opponent.
plane or axis projecting from the middle of the body. This means, when you can use a single movement
It is said that to defeat the opponent, one must to defeat an opponent , you shouldn't use two, as
occupy and control their centre line. Wing Chun the second movement a wasted movement.

techniques tend to be executed on the centreline, Simultaneous attack a nd defend

as it is here that the structure is strongest. Training This theory allows you to attack and defend with
your centreline will help you build a good structure one movement, to conserve energy. In combat it
and gain awareness of your body. Focusing on the means to use an attack in defence to an oncoming
centreline will allow you equal access to both sides attack, employing tactics of positioning (footwork)
of your body fo r attacking and defending. and structure (angles, force and body mechanics),
to effectively remove yourself from the threat and
In relation to my research, the centreline can be while doing so, launch your own attacks.
seen as t he landscape itself ; the ground plane.
To be able to control how a landslide oocurs and In regards to my research, t his means to capitalise
where, is crucial to the survival of the disadvantaged on the event of t he landsl ide, by implementing
communi t ies. strategies which are multifunctional, not only for
the sole purpose of landslide defence, but also to
improve the quality of life of the communit y.


In Wing Chun we don't block attacks, as we believe
that blocking means you are still getting hit. Instead,
we use the concept of redirection, where we allow
the attack to commence, and receive it whilst
redirecting the energy away from our body. This
is done by positioning your body in certain angles
where you are able to intercept the path of the
attack while maintain control of where it will go.
Masters of this are able to allow attacks to come
very close to hitting them without actually getting

In terms of my research project, this notion of
redirection is important because it differs from the
conventional method of blocking landslides with
walls, or fi nding solutions to prevent landslides.
It is through redirection of the forces that we can
actually learn to accept them and be able to position
ourselves in order to evade the dangers yet still
benefit from them.

Tan Dar attack. - Tan Sau drives the opponent's force
away while creating an opening to strike.

(Attack and Defend , n.d.)


Technique Introduction

Redirection , Bong Sau :
Using the angle of your forearm, combined with a
rolling movement and repositioning of your body
in relation to an attack, you can deflect a stronger
force .


Control , Fook Sau :
Through using a relaxed yet sensitive forearm and
wrist to feel your opponent 's movements, you can
divert their attacks while aeating openings for you
to counterattack.



WING CHUf\ -')')

Dispersion , Tan Sau :

Utilising a twisting motion of the forearm, attacks to
your centreline is driven away, whilst you enter into
the opening to counter attack. This can also be used
as an entry into your opponent's guard, which will
give you a chance to strike.


Attack. Bong Sau defence application
Stepping forward. Tan Dar (Tan
Sau with Wing O"tun punch). As the attacker steps forward using a tan sau to
drive the defender's guard aside, he simultaneously
throws a punch from his secondary guard.
Feeling the motion in the opponent's attack, the
defender reacts by rotating his elbow into a bong
sau while side-stepping, which effectively deflects
the tan dar attack, from this position the defender is
able to throw a punch at the attacker.




·- ;' Der.
/ (4dl/.e,.,der's
<1,.,t, ce,.,1&t;
/I f1SJe) '"'e

I -cw: IU cw: Attack &
.... defence
QJ ;:~:: -.... :JVerlay
-QJ QJ &$:~::::::-.. QJ

u Octll c;,.._ c:
•(/) c: ~§ Qu)
.... >ctl
QJ ?5 5 J..f.l.
"g ull!
....../..,!; !.e~rr QJ
QJ "< ~
8e. ="(cC1: ):c;t:l

- ·-QJ c:


Side-Step Bong &lu, follow
with a Wing 01un punch.



Protection , Wu Sau :

Wu Sau is the secondary guard, always at a
ready position to deflect any attack that passes
through the primary guard, also to become the
counterattack. It is formed using an open hand
which gives it versatility.


Reaction , Single hand Chi Sau:
Single hand Chi Sau exercise teaches you to attack
and defend whilst keeping contact with your
opponent's arm. It teaches a fine tune reading of
your opponent's movements using the sensitivity in
your arms.


Attack with palm Redirect force &
strike to body
trap the attacking hand

I ..
Attack with single punch

Deflect attack by rolling
forearm , Bong Sau

I t
I Control/ trap with Fook Sau


Attack/Defend with Tan Sau

(Sngle hand CS1 . CS2, CS3, n.d.)


Reaction, Double hand Chi Sau:
Double hand Chi Sau training can teach you to do
different things with eadl hand simultaneously, such
as attacking and defending.


- ??---\ ::::::=--......._._f:_;:_..!.t_ _


It grants the ability to read the flow of your Double hand Oli Sau, performed by G-andmaster lp
opponent's energy through the slightest movements Man and the young Bruce Lee.
in their arms and allows to you to respond without (Clli Sau, n.d.)
having to think fi rs. You will be able to feel your
opponent's intent before they begin the attack.
Reaction training allows you to respond to the threat
without pre-empting a response.

This technique makes Wing Chun one of, if not
the most effective dose combat styles available.
It trains you to use muocle memory rather than
visual cues to react to attacks, which gives a faster
response time. Experts in Chi Sau are able to defeat
opponents whilst blindfolded.



A-ot ection/

Deflection ..:: -- ::;;.-.,;;;;-....-:...,_-:;;,- - - - - Dispersion

\-- --;

\ I

\ ' I
\/ \Tan Sau I

\/ ' \~+ I

\I I

\ I Bong &!u \

\ I I

Protection/ \ f AA" -J- Oli&!u I

Peadiness \ I
Wu Sau 1

\ 1t+ /

Wu Sau

Fook Sau

1:K.-f /

- - - -\ ..... / I
\ I Protection/
\ I Peadiness


Wing Chun Technique diagram

This is a rough relationship diagram showing the
main Wing Chun techniques I have used to explore
my designs. Basically Chi Sau incorporates Bong,
Tan and Fook Sau; Wu Sau is always used in
combination to the other techniques in a protective
and ready position, while they perform a particular
strategy to redirect force.


Landscape Architecture vs Wing Chun

Anticipation & Reaction

As landscape architects, we tend to design in

anticipation for what may happen in the future,
because we are designing for future conditions. Our

design projects seldom it ever become ·complete'

(in the sense of how we envisaged it) when
construction is first completed. Aants take time to
grow and other conditions might need to be met , all
in a matter of time.

As Wing Olun practitioners, we are taught not
to anticipate, but to react instead. Because by
anticipating, you are predetermining a response to
something that may or may not oocur in the way
you expect it to. This causes you to react slower to
an attack that is unexpected, potentially leaving you


Time+ Space

Landscape architecture projects deal with a long
time frame in which the strategy comes into fruition
not immediately but over time; it may take years,
decades and even centuries. The area of effect of
our design moves in the landscape can be really
large, but sometime it can only be seen as a whole
from a distance and is not so obvious when up

Wing OJUn works at very close range, any dispute is
dealt with immediately and is usually over within a
matter of seconds.

From this comparison of time and space, Wing Olun
and Lands::ape Architecture seems to be complete
opposites -working at vastly different timescales.

However the time it takes to build up the skills
required to perform Wing Chun efficiently and
effectively may take years of training, and practise;
all for several seconds, in a moment of life or death.
The better prepared you are the better chance of

In order to reach a state of resilience that is able to
react to unexpected events such as landslides (as
it is difficult to foresee the size, time and location) ,
we must be able to maintain a constant reading
of the landscape. This is unrealistic in a landscape
architectural sense because we cannot be there
indefinitely to redesign and prepare for future
events. Therefore conventional disaster interventions
are rigid and opt for engineering based solutions
which work within a limit, are unable to adapt to
the unexpected. While there is sometimes ongoing
management in terms of maintenance for these
defence structures, it is still about predetermining a
response and is therefore not flexible.

In order to respond to events such as landslides
which may occur in a time frame that is abrupt,
landscape interventions must become adaptive and
responsive. The only way to do this is to educate the
community that is being protected. The strategies
which are to be implemented over time needs to be
understood as well as the site itself. Through a fine
tuned reading of the site, appropriate measures can
be implemented to prepare for the unexpected.




The following precedents are similar to my design
research project, but different.

Siglufj orOu r
This is an avalanche deflection dam in Iceland.
This project gave me the initial idea for my landslide
deflection dams which I designed in my ·avoiding'

Page 32

Blue Isles Plan
This project of reclaimed islands was a precedent
from the very beginning of my research (while I
was still researching disasters); because it had to
do with changing the landscape (or seas::ape) in
order to protect an important and vulnerable area.
The agenda for safety also catered for extra housing
possibilities as well as habitat creation for wildlife.

Page 34

Sabo is a precedent because it had been tested

throughout history, in Japan, as sediment defence.

Although it seems to be the perfect precedent for
my research project, it is actually quite the opposite
of what I am aiming for in my design; in terms of
approach and philosophy.

Page 36

Jl The town of Siglufjorbur


Avalanche deflection dam, Siglufj orOur

by Landslag

This design of an avalanche deflection dam protects
the Icelandic town of Siglufjorbur by deflecting
avalanches away from populated areas at the most
hazardous locations.

The defence structure also doubles as a recreation
area, with paths running around the structure and
on top of its ridge line. directing people up the
mountain, and has a viewing platform at the end of

In many ways this project was successful as it is
effective in deflecting the avalanches that endanger
the lives of the town's residents. What it is also
notable for is the fad that besides being a defensive
structure with a very dear purpose, it has been
designed so that it will not be an eye sore. In
emulating the ridge forms on the mountain, the
deflection dam's direction and flow also allows it to
become camouflaged and almost seem as if it was
naturally formed. It has become a cultural icon for
the town's residents, as it basically allows them to
survive in this previously hazardous landscape.

-- . ~ . , .,.7... -.


. -·

Deflection Dam and town, winter

Avalanche Deflection Dam :n
PRECEDENTS: SiglufjorOur

This project is similar to mine in that it is also a form
of sediment defence.

Where it differs is that this project is still about

exclusion; to reject the avalanche by deflecting it

into the sea behind the town.

However it is still much more innovative than the
commonly used engineered solutions, where they
disregard the effect the structure will have on the

community. Oler time vegetation will grow over it

and it becomes part of the landscape.

This project is also about predetermining a
structure, because based on past avalanches, they
can predict where avalanches might occur when it
snows, whereas with landslides, once it happens,
the soil moves to the bottom of the slope and the
landslides cannot occur in the same way again.

• ••• ..

• ...

•.._ "'-• ~ ••..wt£t aclft • - - --- +

-..---..... ..~ Avalanche hazard zones (based on past events)

PRECEDENTS Blue Isles Plan

Blue Isles masterplan aerial

PRECEDENTS: Blue Isles Plan

Blue Isles Plan The sand winning (technique of extracting sand for
building the islands) causes deep troughs which is
by West 8, Svasek Hydraulics suitable for fish growth and will lead to an increase
number of species and biodiversity.
This is the design of several artificial sand dune
islands off the coast of Belgium and the Netherlands, This project was really an inspiration to me from the
which provides more reclaimed land for housing beginning of my research proposal. It is similarly
as well as leisure activities, but with an agenda for looking at the agenda for safety, but also as a chain
safety. of events, it generates many other opportunities tor
habitation and change.
The islands help break the increasing waves which is
a threat to the Delta Metropolis - the conglomerate
of cities in the west of the Low Countries.
Engineered gullies aiSJ create ott-shore undertow,
which causes the sea level to drop during north
western storms.

Sand w inning created t roughs

Section through one ot the islands


Japanese Sabo Works ;;J ~

In Japanese the term Sabo literally means "defence
against earth", which translates to something along
the lines of "the control of and protection from
sediment disasters".
It deals with anything sediment related from debris
flow, slope failure, landslides, volcanic mud flow,
avalanche, to stream erosion control.

(Sabo. 2001)




(Sabo, 2001 ) Sabo mitigation and prevention works for different sediment disasters



Debris flow Sabo ScMnunc * '"' oc Debris flow Sabo
J-Landslide Sabo
Debris flow happens on mountain streams and eonvol works ancs
watersheds where sediment and debris get flushed rutr:llnt workS

out during heavy rain after collapses up stream. A

typical sabo intervention for debris flow consists
of building permeable check dams on the path of
watersheds or streams, for which sediment can
flow through under normal conditions; yet when a
larger scale debris flow occurs the sediment would
be captured and held temporarily to protect the
downstream areas.

J- Lan dslide Sabo

Landslides as defined by the ..Spanese sabo
associations are the movement of a large area of
landmass, also known as J.landsJides; which is a
different type of landslide to what naturally occurs
on my site, and in my research. Typically this type of
landslide is difficult to stop once it has started due
to the size, but can be prevented through the use of
extensive drainage and retention interventions.

Sabo works for Slope failure type landslides

Sabo interventions dealing with slope failure type
landslides are mainly made up of 3 types: wall
type, which is the most intrusive to the landscape;
ground surface type, which can be just as intrusive
as the wall type unless care is taken to 'hide' it in
vegetation, or careful consideration to where and
how it is placed; and lastly the fencing type, which
causes the least damage to existing vegetation,
because it can be arranged around existing trees.

Sope failure Sabo methods


Sabo works for Slope failure type landslides

Retaining wall works
Concrete retaining walls are built on the lower
part of a slope where a collapse has happened
to suppress it directly as well as catching further
collapsed soil , protecting the houses down below.

Soldier piles and lagging works
Steel piles are driven into the slope to restrain the
collapse of the surface soil layer, and then lagging
is placed between the piles to prevent downward
movement of the eroded soil. This method can be
applied without destroying existing vegetation.

Grating crib works
Concrete frames are laid onto a slope in
which vegetation can grow to help retain soil,
preventing erosion. This method can be used in
conjunction with ground anchors to directly act as
a suppressing struct ure to prevent slope collapse.
Existing vegetation can be retained by adjusting
arrangement of the frames.

(Sabo. 2001)



Sabo interventions Concept exploration based on Sabo I echniques

• ',.s .



Reflection on Sabo strategy and my strategy

Sabo works are the solution to sediment disasters
in Japan and has also been the precedent for
many other countries' sediment defence. But
the difference between these Japanese sabo
interventions and my design interventions is the

Sabo works tend to be engineering focused and

often utilises a hard/ harsh style of preventative
response to landslides to 'fix the problem'.

I don't believe that it is the only way; instead,
my strategy is one which accepts the landslide as
a natural process, and through my interventions
redirects the flow of the landslide to actually
create opportunities out of a calamity rather than
attempting to prevent it.

Whilst sabo interventions might be effective and
appropriate in Japan, where space is limited,

this does not mean it will be a right fit for other

countries, cultures and environments.

In order to become more resilient to disasters, we
must not become too complacent in depending on
'technology', as demonstrated in the devastation
of the 2011 Tohoku Tsunami, where complacent
residents did not heed the warning systems to
evacuate when the tsunami hit the east coast of
Japan, as they thought that nothing can break
through their seawalls and breakwaters. It was a
painful reminder that whilst we might be able to
build large structures, carve out mountains and fill
in the sea, our interventions are of little hindrance
to the forces of nature, when a disaster beyond our
predictions hit , only t hose with enough preparation
and resilience will survive.

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Throughout my design project, my intention was
to facilitate the coexistence of disadvantaged
communities and landslides. From the initial desire
to solve the problem by avoiding it , to embracing
and facing the challenge of designing with
catastrophe, I explored various design concepts to
eventually find an approach to design which I can
call my own.

Bringing my knowledge and my passion in martial
arts, I was able to utilise this knowledge to inform
my design interventions. By translating Wing 01un
techniques into strategies in dealing with landslides,
I designed landscape interventions that respond
to different stages of development on a location
susceptible to landslides.

Based on what I learned through the design and
investigation of different design iterations, I created
a scenario on which I can test how the different
iterations might operate together. The scenario is
represented in a timeline over a period of 10 years
and is further demonstrated in a sectional elevation
across the slope, where an event of a landslide
amongst other interventions implemented on the
site, is depicted.

ro od 0

Landslide Section , Time Cycle, Scenario

The timeline on the bottom of the page, which I will
refer to as a time cycle, is a ten year time cycle in
which I have depicted a scenario where my design
interventions are implemented during a ten year

The section on the next page is a snapshot of my
final design iteration. Reading: Event, where it
depicts the event of a landslide in the 8th year of

In Reacting: Event , a time cycle representing
each year will show the implementation of each
intervention in more detail.

/:;' \

'···.... ...


Time Cycle to Strategy Implementation
- Over 10 years

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