Protect your building, campus or city against threats exacerbated by climate change, urbanisation and globalisation, with a robust set of resilience strategies

Climate change, urbanisation, globalisation – our cities, communities, organisations and buildings are increasingly susceptible to these stresses and the shock events that they exacerbate. It is therefore more important than ever to ensure you have strategies, plans and infrastructure in place to be prepared for the future.

Understanding your project’s risks

Working with our team of strategic planning, economic and technical experts, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of your project’s risks and vulnerabilities.

Together, we’ll create a set of resilience strategies, which take into account your most important vulnerabilities and help to prioritise how your budget may be best allocated.

We then design a programme of aligned interventions and help to schedule, design and build them.

Futureproofing your built environment

With a consistent framework in place, you will be able to effectively manage your current and future resilience measures. Your building or urban space will be more resilient today and capable of evolving to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Giving you maximum return on investment, our integrated approach brings together stakeholders around a common goal, covering all angles and considering a comprehensive portfolio of stresses and shocks.

The Buro Happold three-stage methodology


Capable of working for your city, neighbourhood or individual building, our approach is scalable, robust and proven. Following a Buro Happold resilience assessment, you will have a baseline for evaluating the impact of future decisions. Importantly, this can be benchmarked against other buildings or cities on a global performance scale.

Whether you are an investor or a key public or private stakeholder, you will be able to make those difficult decisions on how to build resilience using robust, comparable data.

Find out about the work we did on advancing the field of resilience through our research into the Royal Charter International Research Award and the 12 Cities Report. View the summary or full report.

Specialists working with specialists

When you work with us, you have access to highly experienced specialists in resilience and as well as flood risk, fire, technology and security to name a few. But better still, by working hand in hand with other Buro Happold specialists such as masterplanning, water management and many more, we can design an integrated solution that lifts the execution and benefits to another level.

Find out about our work for Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City, where we provided strategic risk assessments and resilience strategies while working with a large number of specialists to provide an integrated understanding of resilience for the whole $10 billion project.

City Resilience

All cities are vulnerable to shocks and stresses. Cities have always been central to human progress. In 2007 we passed the point where 50% of the world’s population lives in cities, trending towards 70% by 2050.

With this concentration of people it is inevitable that  cities are especially vulnerable to stresses and shocks.  Whilst we are experiencing this fundamental shift, long-term gradual stresses such as climate change, population growth, and resource scarcity, are putting our urban centres under more and more pressure.

If we are to thrive and our cities are to continue to be centres for prosperity, we need to build their capacity to meet the demands of these shocks and stresses. This thinking is at the core of the Buro Happold resilience approach.

Funds and resources are in short supply, and it’s getting tougher.

Cities have limited funds and resources to address their issues, so they need to understand where to best invest those funds for the future health of the city. Right now, decisions are generally based on tackling the last threat that struck the city, but we find that this is often not the issue from which the city is most at risk.

As an example, when asked about their top shocks and stresses, delegates from Sao Paulo instantly stated financial crisis and drought in the workshop we ran with them.  These were the massive dual challenges that the city was currently experiencing. However, our diagnostic approach identified that their people were more at risk from an epidemic. The impact of the Zika virus six months later has certainly shown the city’s and country’s vulnerability and lack of capacity to deal with such a shock.

To help target where investment should be focussed, we have created a simple but powerful approach, backed by an online tool that makes resilience quantifiable, comparable and crucially manageable. As the old adage goes, ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’.

Moving Resilience forward

We are challenging cities to demand more from their investment in resilience. Traditionally resilience has simply meant the ability to recover quickly from a disruption. We recognise the importance of investing in measures to better mitigate risk upfront. What’s more we believe that cities should not just seek to ‘recover’; to get back to where they were. There is a duty to learn, and to build back better. For us, resilience is “the ability to anticipate and adapt to shocks and stresses; implementing lessons learned to leverage emerging opportunities, and effectively reduce vulnerabilities”.

Our new risk based approach to resilience, shown in Figure 1, comprises various strategies for mitigation that includes concepts such as fail-safe design, robustness and redundancy, as well as integrating effective response and recovery.

Our comprehensive resilience framework, shown in Figure 2 considers interconnectivities and resilience outcomes across governance and the economy, society, and the built and natural environment. We assess current and future resilience demands against the capacity to resist and/or respond to reveal the gaps between the two which need to be addressed.

Think of the 2005 disaster in New Orleans. The inadequate design and maintenance of the levees, combined with the slow response to the crisis, exacerbated the stress of inequality, and the poorer neighbourhoods faired far worse. The long term effects of the city’s poor resilience are still being felt.

Figure 1 Resilience Methodology Overview
Figure 2 Buro Happold Resilience Framework (resilience demand shown in blue, resilience capacity shown in green and resilience rating in yellow)

Stakeholder Engagement

One of the most important aspects of developing a comprehensive resilience strategy is stakeholder engagement. Cities have a tendency to operate in silos and effective resilience requires collaboration across functional boundaries. We facilitate this dialogue through seeking insights from a cross section of stakeholders via workshops and our innovative online engagement tool,“Resilience Insight”

Resilience Insight allows multiple stakeholders to contribute to a city resilience assessment, providing the ability for everyone to have a stake in the outcomes. Combined with other data sources, this enables us to a gain a rich picture of a city’s resilience, and then help to prioritise how they can be protected now and in the future.  We want to help cities not only to survive, but to flourish, and their citizens to thrive.

At last – statistical support for investment

Scaled resilience will only happen with significant investment by the public and private sectors; and that requires evidence-based business cases. The data from our Resilience Insight tool supports the development of these cases by providing measures of resilience demand and resilience capacity, and shows how specific improvements in capacity can help to meet overall resilience demand. We provide a framework which:

  • Assists key private and public sector stakeholders in assessing their current and future resilience demands, capabilities and gaps;
  • Prioritises policies and interventions that would improve resilience and measures the performance and;
  • Supports the development of business cases for investment in resilience building;
  • Provides a framework for measuring progress and managing resilience.

Building and Campus Resilience

A building or campus is only as resilient as its people or environment

Our resilience impact assessments take into account not just the buildings that make up the campus but also how it is governed and managed, its resources and even the social aspects that make a structure a place.

Our first step is to understand the specific shocks and stresses facing your campus and the ways in which it is vulnerable. The next is to understand the linkages between these vulnerabilities and strategic outcomes. This allows us to develop recovery time objective for the campus. There is no risk without vulnerability, and this is why our approach focuses on developing a system map outlining the system vulnerabilities, dependencies and interconnectivities. We then assign a recovery time objective to critical components in the system.

We look at the changing demand placed on the components from the prioritised shocks and stresses and the capability of these components to resist. This allows us to identify specific gaps both now and in the future.

We then develop strategies that balance physical interventions with operational procedural measures to deliver a holistic resilience strategy that meets your needs.

Data Centres

Our societies are becoming ever more reliant on data centres and information management concepts to support our daily lives as well as providing critical functions for business. They are fast moving and rapidly changing facilities that need flexibility, redundancy and reliability at the core of their design whilst remaining cost effective and practical. Using the principles above, resilience strategies need to be finely tuned to the specific needs of each data centre and a one size fits all approach is likely to lead to significant extra expense, poor performance or system failures/ down time.


Hospitals have a critical role within our society and are home to many critical vulnerabilities that must remain operational at all times. The unique challenge with hospitals is that they have to be prepared for disruption to their facility but also disruption to the area and people they support. For example, they may need to be protected from a terrorist threat or may need to deal with the aftermath of a terrorist incident elsewhere.

Sports Venues

The resilience approach to stadia and similar venues is threefold:

  • Masterplan resilience of the surrounding land and facilities
  • Resilience of the stadium building
  • Resilience during matches

All three resilience approaches follow a similar methodology, as outlined above, to provide a multi-layered, multi-hazard resilience model that allows effective scenario testing and exercising. This allows issues to be identified early and lessons to be learned before anyone is put at risk.

Airports & Transportation Hubs

There can be a tendency for the resilience focus of Airports and other transport hubs to be focused on terrorism, and terrorism does represent a significant risk, however, to bias our understanding of the overall risk profile toward as single risk opens the potential for other safety and operational risks to be neglected, increasing the risk of failures and disruption. Our methodology to resilience outlined above is holistic and proportionate, ensuring disruptions to the effective operation of a Airport or other transport hub are minimised through an effective, multi-layered, proactive approach to managing all the risks.

Higher Education

Higher Education has been subject to significant structural change over the past 30 years with a much larger proportion of the population entering higher and further education, the removal of significant elements of grant funding and the ever increasing role of technology. Technology is set to drive further change in this sector whilst the role of government continues to reduce. This places an enormous burden on educational establishments to function as independent businesses without a public sector safety net. There is a need to prepare for this future and build resilience into strategies for change. Specific risks affecting higher education could be as diverse as changes in international governance affecting the number of international students to the resilience of buildings or accommodation to disruption which could affect both the University’s reputation and the ability to conduct research.

Resilience Insight Tool

Buro Happold has created a simple but powerful approach, backed by an online tool that makes resilience quantifiable, comparable and crucially manageable

The Resilience Insight online diagnostic tool created by Buro Happold provides an online stakeholder engagement platform that gathers rich data across silos and provides immediate feedback on a city or area’s resilience priorities.

Resilience Insight is free to use but you will need a license key from the Risk and Resilience team.  If you have not already received a key, please contact us at risk& We will need your last name, city or organisation and email address.

The tool has recently been updated into two modules. The tutorials and user guide will be updated in line with these minor changes soon.


Find out more and get a link to the tool here >

Blast Resilience

Blast resistant design doesn’t have to be ugly or expensive

With early engagement, Buro Happold’s blast consultants can provide site specific design advice that reduces a building’s vulnerability to potential explosive attacks and the expense of building hardening. This will include advice on site layout, building configuration, building layout, choice of façade and structural systems.

Our blast consultants are building designers – we understand how to design and construct buildings, how to integrate protective measures into the architectural aesthetic with minimal impact and without making it difficult to construct.

Our approach is risk/cost/performance based. We assist our clients to decide on the level of protection that suits their budgets, risk tolerance and performance requirements by providing clear, advice on the costs and benefits of various blast enhancement measures.

We have a bottom-up rather than top-down approach; meaning that we start by evaluating the initial design and only after consultation with client will develop incremental enhancements which are guided by risk, cost and performance benefits. We have a diverse team of advisers who are designers by training, but have expertise in risk assessments, weapons effects, blast mitigating design and general structural resilience.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Blast Modelling
Example_03_Facade Damage
Blast Consequence Assessment

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