Resilient Coastal Development in Belize: Urban Design Studio and Accelerator

Johanna Lovecchio, Associate Director
Alexandra Grant-Hudd, Graduate Research Assistant
Thad Pawlowski, Managing Director
March 11, 2022

Rapid development along Belize's coast and climate change is reshaping the coastline, land- and sea-scapes, and communities. It presents both challenge and opportunity for local communities and livelihoods, the region, and for the Belize Barrier Reef System. To clarify these challenges with stakeholders, align on possible strategies for improving outcomes at multiple scales, and visualize possible future scenarios the Resilient Reefs Initiative, the Coastal Zone Management Authority & Institute, Belize Fisheries Department, and Ministry for Blue Economy & Civil Aviation are partnering with the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes (CRCL) and Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) to deliver a Water Urbanisms Urban Design Studio and Accelerator Workshop.

The effort was anchored by a week-long virtual workshop in January, 2022 which convened local partners, stakeholders, and interdisciplinary academics in order to ground the partnership in mutual learning and understanding of local policy and action. The workshop and subsequent Studio will explore and co-design a set of design principles, place-specific research, and conceptual design sketches that test those principles with students and faculty from the University of Belize, local stakeholders, subject-matter experts, and public agencies. Research and visualized design development scenarios prepared in the Studio will inspire the ongoing planning and engagement work of the Resilience Strategy, Coastal Zone Management Plan Update, and Ministry for the Blue Economy Strategy. The workshop explored major themes and issues in Belize and the Yucatan as they relate to six regions and 11 transect areas, selected by the Team. During the workshop, students and local stakeholders convened in breakout sessions with a set of facilitated exercises to explore local conditions, data, and stakeholders. A mid-review of the work in March and a final review in April will provide both additional convening moments for stakeholders, scholars, and students to generate ideas, ground concepts in implementation contexts, and provide feedback. Design concepts will be finalized in a Urban Design Studio E-book and/or StoryMap in May, 2022.