The Campsite as Disaster Shelter

The Campsite as A Disaster Shelter

Kazuhiro Akase
Council Member of F.I.C.C.

During the last decade of the 20th century, we had two big earthquake disasters in Asia: one in Japan in 1995 with a toll of 6,300 and the other in Taiwan in 1999 with a toll of 2,400. From the experience of both tragedies, we know how powerless and helpless the city dwellers will become when the lifeline such as electricity, water and gas supply is cut off due to the earthquake and the great fire. At the same time, we witnessed that tents served as shelters for the sufferers and the camping was a very effective way of surviving catastrophic situations.

There is an urgent need to secure the evacuation and survival of citizens, especially dwellers in a metropolis which is heavily populated and depends on highly developed industrial systems and technical networks. It is therefore strongly recommended to construct campsites equipped with the function of disaster prevention within or near the city.

Those campsites should store sufficient quantities of tents and camping utensils as well as drinking water, food and medicine. It goes without saying that buildings for administration, toilets and storages should be designed to be fireproof and earthquake-resistant. Camping trailers should also be made available for accommodating the handicapped, the aged or the expectant and nursing mothers for whom the camping in a tent might be not so easy. For the convenience of those people, the campsites should also be designed to be barrier free.

The operation of those campsites would require the risk management based on contingency plans, which should take into consideration not only natural catastrophes but also industrial ones, for example, major accidents in chemical plants or nuclear power stations.

The contingency plans should be implemented in cooperation with local governments responsible for the safety of citizens. Of course the campsites exist not only for dealing with emergencies but mainly for the leisure purposes. The campsites should offer a place of recreation and relaxation for people in peacetime and a safe shelter for sufferers in case of emergencies.

In general, a campsite should be planned and designed as part of the city planning by studying the ways to make it proof against emergencies as well as friendly to the natural environment. The disaster prevention and environment protection are not two different things; they are one in essence. One could never succeed in building an emergency-proof city without it being environment-friendly.

To give just a couple of examples, a safe city should be full of natural elements such as trees, grass, ponds and rivers. Green belts within a city would serve to check the spread of fire. Even old-fashioned wells would supply water for drinking and fire fighting in an extreme situation if they still exist in modern cities at all.

Also, in terms of energy, the campsite should gain some independence from the industrial society. We know the urban power supply, which is fully controlled by the modern computer technology, would be too easily cut off in a major emergency. So the campsite as a disaster shelter should make good use of the nature. It should be equipped with a solar cell system for the hot water supply. A wind power station may also be a useful alternative for the power supply if geographical features allow its installation. Buildings on the campsite should be designed to take in the light from the surrounding nature and have a natural ventilation.

By pursuing this concept, we hope to influence city developers to design cities in view of disaster prevention and environment protection. A city which is planned, built and operated based on the principles of the amenity, ecology and safety. These are nothing but the principles of the 21st century.

January 2001 (Asia-Pacific News No.6)

Mark of Asia Pacific Commission

Japanese Site