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Department of Architecture


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Since its establishment in 1997, the Cambridge University Centre for Risk in the Built Environment (CURBE) group, now led by Professor Emily So, have been involved in identifying, monitoring and assessing risk in the built environment under the auspices of national, European and global initiatives. 

Mainly concentrating on natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, volcanoes and tsunamis, the research studies are unique in bringing together close cooperation between architects, engineers, earth scientists and public health specialists.  CURBE links the skills and expertise from these distinct disciplines to understand and resolve disaster and risk issues, particularly related to reducing detrimental impacts of disasters and vulnerability of the built environment. 

Most recently, members of CURBE were asked to contribute to the UK Government’s series of foresight reports in answer to Lord Ashdown’s calls for a step change in the way the international humanitarian system responds to disasters.  This report falls under work package 9 on “Improving Future Disaster Anticipation and Resilience”.  CURBE’s current and former directors, Professor Emily So and Professor Robin Spence were responsible for reporting on institutional resilience to earthquake from three recent case studies and recommending research and political actions to improve resilience.

The UK’s earthquake engineering field investigations team, EEFIT was cofounded by the director of CURBE and the group’s research has been integrated in US government earthquake notification programs; used to formulate post-disasters protocols at the World Bank; adopted in the planning for the Vesuvius Emergency Plan by the Italian Government; and adopted in global loss estimation models.

Watch our film on Earthquake Risks: Perspectives from the 15th WCEE 31st March 2015