Climate change is disrupting our planet’s natural cycles and the steep socio-economic growth together with rapid urbanisation are increasing the uncertainty of its effects. During the last decades, frequency and impact of flash floods and droughts in Mediterranean and Middle-East regions has substantially increased and will continue to rise due to these new variations. Therefore, buildings and local architecture in these areas must be adapted to avoid future damages. However, disaster prevention will not be truly effective until the ‘human factor’ is considered, based on actual evidence instead of theoretical assumptions. Better research into how communities are affected by disasters and how they re-act with new architectural solutions is urgently needed.
In 2007, one Spanish town was tragically affected by the Girona River flash-floods and its population and buildings were severely disrupted. This case study was chosen as the main testing ground within this research, whose main aims were: a) to identify environmental retrofit strategies to increase resilience and adaptation to flooding, while improving comfort and living conditions; and, b) to present the proposed strategies to the affected local population. The project revealed insights in the increased level of acceptance and understanding of innovative solutions by local inhabitants when greater communication and participation is achieved.