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Siglufjรถrรฐur 26 PRECEDENTS 25

Blue Isles Plan 28 Sabo 30







66 REACTING: EVENT 68 OTHER INVESTIGATIONS: TSUNAMI COVER IMAGE: Las Colinas landslide (Landslide, 2001.)



Executive Summary Name:

Zhipeng Cai Title:

Redirecting Land Morphologies Subtitle:

Designing with catastrophic landscape events Research Question:

How can a martial arts’ philosophy be applied to the way we design for locations susceptible to landslides?



My project explores opportunities in landscape interventions that consider how we might design for and live with the catastrophic landscape event of landslides. My design approach is based on redirection and the transfer of energy; through softness and flexibility, rather than rigidity. In adapting the concept of ‘acceptance’ from my martial arts practice of Wing Chun kung fu and applying it to my practice of landscape architecture, landslides can be recognised as a natural process of land morphology; one of opportunity rather than destruction, a condition of inclusion rather than exclusion. My design incorporates a strategy which addresses the issue of urban slums in El Salvador, as I am designing the landscape where these shantytowns (tugurios) coexist with landslide events. Through the engagement of bamboo plantations, a micro economy is generated to support the community, stabilising and buffering the landslides. Through applying force from an angle, redirecting stronger forces and dispersing focused attacks, Wing Chun practitioners are able to control, diffuse, react to and even use a stronger opponent’s force against them. Employing landscape architectural practices such as cut/fill, terracing, grading, soil retention and planting, I am applying the Wing Chun techniques both physically and as strategies. From this my design interventions begin to suggest various ways in which we might inhabit a landslide prone landscape. This aids a new condition that will not only allow for the survival from the catastrophe, but also enable informal settlements to improve their living conditions beyond their cycle of poverty.



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Disasters killed more than 236,000 people worldwide in 2010, affecting more than 256 million people and cost US$81 billion in the first nine months of 2010 in repairs. Landslides help contribute to these figures. As such, my design research has led me to investigate how we might design with these catastrophic landscape events. Through applying the philosophy of ‘acceptance’ from Wing Chun kung fu to how we interpret disasters such as landslides, we are reminded that landslides are a natural process of land morphology. Even though it generally has negative connotations, landslides could also bring opportunities that are crucial for the survival of the inhabitants of said landscape. Because many landslide interventions deal with prevention and obstruct the landslide, these opportunities are often lost. As such, my designs approach aims to offer a flexible alternative to landslide interventions; one that involves a condition of inclusion rather than exclusion. My Site is in San Marcos, El Salvador, and consists predominantly of lower to middle class families living in urban slums. Rainy season during winter increases the risk of landslides for these slums living on or near the base of the hill. Through translating Wing Chun techniques into strategies, and implementing them as landscape practices, my research explores how the strategies at different scales might enable informal settlements to not only coexist with landslides, but to also use the opportunities to their advantage. How might my design research project enable a reconsideration of how disasters are perceived? How can I apply my martial arts philosophy to other catastrophic events? How do I apply my practice in Wing Chun to my practice in Landscape Architecture?



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What is a Landslide? A landslide is defined by the Working Committee on World Landslide Inventory as the “movement of a mass of rock, debris or earth down a slope” where movement is not only slide but also fall, topple, spread, and flow in terms of kinematics.

Landslide Type

(LS1, n.d)

(LS2, n.d)

The type of landslide my research focuses on is known as ‘slope failure’, where a slope (or parts of) collapses abruptly. It is often triggered by heavy rain or earthquakes. It is a dangerous type of landslide due to its nature to collapse suddenly, and even more devastating in an urban context.

Debris flow


(LS3, n.d)

Slope failure




Landslide Causes

Landslide Triggers

Human intervention: Urbanisation Excess stress on top of the slope increases the driving force; e.g, building a house on top of the slope. Removal of resistance mass at the bottom decreases the resistance force; e.g, cutting into slope to build highway. Poor agricultural practice decreases minerals in the soil resulting in weaker structure; e.g, slash and burn (common in poor countries).

Snow melt Sudden increase of water in the soil. Heavy and Prolonged Rainfall Increased water in the soil. Earthquakes Liquefaction. Seismic shaking. Volcanic activity Eruption. Flank collapse. (SDA, n.d.)

Weak Materials: Soil Clay is most common material associated with landslides. Granite and other volcanic rocks are also vulnerable because of deep weathering. Gravity: Gravitational pull Power to cause erosion. Driving force behind mass movement. Water: Groundwater Adds weight to the soil, therefore more gravitational pull. Decreases friction in the soil, therefore less sheer strength to prevent the soil from sliding.

- Negative Effects Displacement People losing their place to stay because their homes were destroyed. Economic loss Damage to properties. Cost of rehabilitation. Infrastructure Destroyed buildings, roads, bridges, etc and the cost of rebuilding. Loss of life People getting killed by landslide force. Environmental Landscape surface change. Destruction of vegetation and wild life.




Relevance to site:

San Marcos

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San Marcos is located in a valley between two hills, both susceptible to landslides. Torrential rainfall during winter increases this risk.

Relationship with


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Tugurios (aka shantytowns) constructed on a landslide prone slope often have little or no protection from landslides. They contribute to a higher risk of landslides due to the added weight, improper soil stabilisation techniques, illegal deforestation for firewood and the lack of preparation by the community.

+ Positive Effects

Landslide acceptance

Social Economic balance Landslides keep land values down, as it makes an area hazardous. This provides opportunities for the lower class to take over the land (which is dangerous, but if managed well it will become a starting point for them to move up in the social ladder).

Landslides generally have a negative connotation because of the notions of destruction, danger and despair it brings. However, through the concept of ‘acceptance’, landslides can be recognised as a natural process of land morphology, bringing change to an environment; as well as ‘opportunities’.

Ecology: Change of habitat In streams, naturally occurring landslides can be good for the fish, as it brings logs that they used to feed and take shelter in; a change in the habitat that keeps the stream varied and healthy. New soil Landslides bring new soil, sometimes full of organic matter which is good for agriculture.




詠春功夫 What is Wing Chun? Wing Chun Kung Fu is a style of Chinese martial art which specialises in close range combat, utilising direct attacks along a ‘centre line’ to defeat an opponent with a focus on the ‘economy of movement’.

What am I drawing from it? I am drawing on the idea of ‘acceptance’ from Wing Chun, where by accepting an attack, we will be able to position ourselves to redirect the flow of the force rather than trying to stop or block it. Based on the Taoist theory that strength is not required to defeat an opponent, we can use their strength against them.

Grandmaster Ip Man - the teacher of Bruce Lee 10

(Ip Man, n.d.)



Technique introduction Redirection, Bong Sau: Using the angle of your forearm, combined with a rolling movement and repositioning of your body in relation to an attack, you can deflect a stronger force.

Bong Sau - ‘Wing arm’




Control, Fook Sau: Through using a relaxed yet sensitive forearm to feel how your opponent moves, you can force them into traps which open them up to your attacks while preventing them from attacking.

Fook Sau - ‘Controlling hand’




Dispersion, Tan Sau: Utilising a twisting motion of the forearm, the opponent’s attack to your centre line is driven away, whilst you enter into the opening from their attack, to counter attack.

Tan Sau - ‘Dispersing hand’



WING CHUN Single hand Chi Sau partner exercise


Attack with palm strike to body

Redirect force & trap the attacking hand


Deflect attack by rolling forearm, Bong Sau

Attack with single punch

Attack/Defend with Tan Sau

Control/trap with Fook Sau

Reaction, Chi Sau: Through sensitivity training, you gain the ability to respond to the slightest movement of the opponent, giving you superior timing and ability to feel your opponent’s intent before they begin the attack. (Single hand CS1, CS2, CS3, n.d.)




Double hand Chi Sau, performed by Grandmaster Ip Man and the young Bruce Lee. This trains your sensitivity, and muscle memory so that you can respond to what your opponent does without having to think about it. The key is relaxation.

(Chi Sau, n.d.)

Basic Bong Sau defence against Tan Dar attack




Relevance to landscape architecture; Distinction between ‘anticipation’ and ‘strategy/planning’.




In landscape architecture projects, there is a need to anticipate for the future, because we are designing for future conditions. In Wing Chun, we do not anticipate. Because by anticipating a particular attack, you are committing to perform a particular defence, which leaves you open for other attacks. Instead, we train to react to different attacks as they come and respond with appropriate defence techniques. This allows for flexible tactics when the outcome is unclear to begin with. However, by planning a strategy, we are able to force an opponent to move in a certain way so that we control the situation.





site ed s u Foc

Focused Site 1:10000




Expanded site: San Marcos

San Marcos city data Area - Total 14.7 km2 Elevation 795 m Population (2007) - Total 75,635

World map

Central America

El Salvador

San Salvador




El Salvador is a country found within the Pacific Ring of Fire and has suffered from years of civil war as well as natural disasters, giving its capital city the nickname “San Salvador La Ciudad Que Se Desmorona” (San Salvador The City That Crumbles). San Salvador has had a very high crime rate due to gangs, as well as corruption, but the situation has gotten better since 2010. El Salvador’s rainy season is in winter, known locally as invierno, extends from May to October. Almost all the annual rainfall occurs during this time, which makes the risk of landslides and floods extremely high. (PRoF, n.d.)


Pacific Ring of Fire



LEGEND Predominance of precarious AUP Low




Located in a small valley, San Marcos is one of the 14 municipalities of Great San Salvador. It is home to middlelow to middle class citizens, with the majority of the city being classified as precarious urban settlements (Acronym is AUP in Spanish), the poorest areas in urban parts of El Salvador, where access to basic services are not acceptable. San Marcos AUP

(SM AUP, n.d)




Out of the population of 7.1 million people – 48% live in poverty. In 2010, 2508 AUPs were identified in El Salvador, where more than two million Salvadorians are living; this is more than half the urban population. Out of these, 1275 AUPs were classified as extremely precarious (approximately half), and 870,000 people live in them, most lacking a home with “minimal sanitation and whose ability to access basic services is very deficient.” – Tim’s El Salvador Blog



(SS Slum, n.d.)

Typical slum dwellings in El Salvador, constructed out of found material


Illegal squatter settlement in Guatemala

(Guatemala, n.d.)

Slums, known locally as tugurios are often found in hazardous landscapes because the safer areas tend to be bought and protected by the wealthy. Therefore their decision to build and live in locations susceptible to landslides is not out of choice but necessity. Because their dwellings are often made of scrap material found by the residents, they do not have much protection if a landslide happens. Aid from the outside often does not address the issue either, as they tend to be short term solutions rather than a long term strategy. 23


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The following precedents are projects which are similar to my design research, but also different.

Siglufjörður An avalanche deflection dam in Iceland. This project gave me the initial idea for my landslide deflection dams which I designed in my ‘avoiding’ iteration.

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Blue Isles Plan This project of reclaimed islands was a precedent from the very beginning of my research (even before I decided to look at landslides), because it had to do with changing the landscape (or seascape) in order to protect an important and vulnerable area. The agenda for safety also catered for extra housing possibilities as well as habitat creation for wildlife.

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Sabo Sabo is a precedent because it had been tested throughout history, in Japan, as sediment defence. Although it seems to be the perfect precedent for my research project, it is actually the opposite of what I am aiming for in my design; in terms of approach and philosophy.

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PRECEDENTS: Siglufjörður Avalanche deflection dam, Siglufjörður by Landslag This project is an avalanche deflection dam which protects the Icelandic town of Siglufjörður by deflecting avalanches away from populated areas at the most hazardous locations. It was designed to emulate the ridge forms on the mountain while also doubling as a recreation area with paths and viewing platforms.

Avalanche hazard zones (past events)

Deflection Dam and town, winter


PRECEDENTS: Siglufjรถrรฐur

This project is similar to mine in that it is also a form of sediment defence. Where it differs is that this project is still about exclusion; to reject the avalanche by deflecting it into the sea behind the town.

The town of Siglufjรถrรฐur

Deflection Dam


PRECEDENTS: Blue Isles Plan Blue Isles Plan by West 8, Svasek Hydraulics This is a project of several artificial sand dunes islands off the coast of Belgium and the Netherlands. The islands break the increasing waves which threaten the Delta Metropolis – the conglomerate of cities in the west of the Low Countries. The islands provide more reclaimed land for housing and leisure activities. Engineered gullies also create off-shore undertow, causing the sea level to drop during north western storms.

Blue Isles masterplan aerial


PRECEDENTS: Blue Isles Plan

The technique of sand winning, used to extract sand to build the islands will create deep troughs in the seabed, forming an ideal habitat for fish growth, leading to an increase of species and biodiversity. This project was really an inspiration to me from the beginning of my research proposal. It is similarly looking at the agenda for safety, but also as a chain of events, it generates many other opportunities for habitation and change.

Sand winning created troughs

Section through one of the islands



Japanese Sabo Works


In Japanese the term Sabo literally means “defence against earth”, which translates to something along the lines of “the control of and protection from sediment disasters”. It deals with anything sediment related from debris flow, slope failure, landslides, volcanic mud flow, avalanche, to stream erosion control.

Debris flow Sabo

Landslide Sabo

Slope failure Sabo

Volcanic Sabo

Avalanche Sabo, protective guards

River channel Sabo



Sabo interventions to slope failure consist of three types: retaining walls; concrete frames on the ground with anchors; and fencing. Retaining wall works

Soldier piles and lagging works

Grating crib works

What makes this precedent different to my research project is strategy. Sabo works aim to prevent landslides from happening, using an engineering focused strategy; it seeks for solutions to hold back the landslide. My strategy is to redirect the flow of the landslide to a less destructive path, as I believe natural processes should not be forcefully stopped.

Slope failure Sabo, mitigation and prevention methods



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Most of these design iterations were drawn separate to each other, and not in the order it is presented. Recurring ideas from my concept sketches were grouped, as I realised that the strategy I employ for each sketch design in the same group is similar or the same. Therefore this is a presentation of a range of strategies which were present throughout in my design process, and of course they each informed each other, thus altering the design. These Strategies (iterations) were then matched with aspects from my martial art Wing Chun Kung Fu; from techniques to the structure, and even the experience gained from training.





‘Avoiding’ Plan 1:10000


‘Avoiding’ Section AA 1:1000


‘Avoiding’ Masterplan 1:25000 Initially the idea was that if there the slums were not in the way of a landslide then there would be no risk. Therefore the strategy was to build on top of a lifted platform to avoid direct confrontation with the landslide. This design iteration is a platform where the tugurios can be built above the ground plane, to avoid the landslides. While deflection dams protect existing settlement and redirect any landslides which might occur into the area beneath the raised platform. The soil from the landslide can then be used for urban agriculture atop of the roofs of the dwellings and on one side of the deflection dam. There was also a notion of increasing protection through an attempt to reduce crime, by using avenues planted with vegetation for passive surveillance.



Layers of the platform design

Raised ‘ground’ layer avoids the landslide.

Raised ‘ground’ layer

Forestation vegetation

Tree & view corridors

Slum-rise block division

Small connecting lanes

Urban agriculture on shacks

Tree and view corridor attempts to increasing protection, by using passive surveillance and vegetated avenues to reduce crime. Small lanes connected the larger corridors making access easier. Forestation vegetation creates a recreational area beneath the platform. Slum-rise block divisions show an example of the configuration of the tugurio dwellings. Urban agriculture on shacks demonstrates the amount of roof space that can be appropriated for growing food.



Soil from the landslide can be used for urban agriculture on rooftops of the dwellings above the platform.

‘Avoiding’ section detail 1:100



Deflection/Soil collection Dam

Deflection dams protect existing settlement by redirecting any landslides which might occur into the area beneath the raised platform. Some soil will be retained from the landslide for use to grow crops for a community market garden.



Landslide Debri





New soil Grow crops

Landslide events can still happen


opments Raised Slums


Ground Level Tugurios

+ Poor






$$$$$$ Large amount of money



Causes more problems

Don’t have!

This design iteration was based on the notion to evade the danger, but I realised that it was not possible to move an entire settlement away fast enough to avoid the danger, as landslides happen in an instant.

From this initial iteration, I realised an important aspect about this design approach; that by solving ‘problems’, we only allow for other problems to take its place.

What was also brought to my attention was that if my scheme had worked, then the slum dweller will be evicted. Because if there is no longer a danger of landslides, then that area becomes valuable to development for third parties or the government.

What has been successful from this iteration was that by applying a strategy to redirecting energy from the landslides using deflection mounds, landslides are not being prevented, therefore a natural process can still occur. This in turn brings about opportunities to discover how we can utilise this natural phenomenon, to turn a naturally destructive force into a constructive, creative force; one which can cultivate a landscape and its inhabitants.

This then made me realise that because we tend to think about landslides and other natural disasters as ‘problems’ to begin with, we are constantly aiming to ‘solve’ or avoid the situation.



‘Redirecting’ Plan 1:10000 In this design iteration, I explored the form of a ‘redirection dam’ in 3D, as a method of investigating how a Wing Chun technique might manifest itself as a strategy in landscape architectural practice. Bong Sau

Technique: Bong Sau Strategy: Deflection


The aim of this strategy is to redirect the larger force, so that it does not strike the vulnerable spots.


This strategy was used because it is a way of protecting a particular area, with no intention of stopping the opposing force of the landslide. It accepts the landslide as a natural process, yet by redirecting the destructive energy, the redirection dam will be able to protect weaker or vital structure, such as hospitals, community centres and homes. 40


膀手 wing arm


‘Redirecting’ Masterplan 1:25000

The redirection dam is angled from the direction of potential landslides, to be able to transfer the energy of the landslides and redirect the force.


‘Redirecting’ dam plan detail




‘Redirecting’ dam render R1

The serrated edges act as a buffer to blunt the redirected force and also to trap part of the sediment, so that as the landslide debris travels down the redirection dam, its destructive force becomes less, as the mass and speed is reduced.

‘Redirecting’ dam render R2




Ov erf


Red Redirect ed irec tion dam Original path

From this iteration, I realised that an intervention of only redirection dams would not be enough to mitigate the force of a landslide much larger than the resistance force of the proposed redirection dam. Therefore to prepare for the unexpected, a flexible strategy of incorporating other layers to further diffuse the power of the landslide is required.


‘Controlling’ Plan 1:10000 This design iteration was once again explored in 3D to visualise it formally and spatially. The notion of controlling the opponent was translated into the strategy of controlling ‘flow’ within the site. Fook Sau

Technique: Fook Sau Strategy: Control The aim of this strategy is to control the flow of the opponent’s force, so you are able to direct it into a desired location at a desired time. This strategy was explored because by controlling the amount of water seeping into the soil during rainy season, we are able to reduce the risk of having to face a large landslide. Smaller landslides are easier to manage as the force can be neutralised and the flow redirected much easier. 44




伏手 controlling hand


‘Controlling’ Masterplan 1:25000

The design of ‘step terraces’ was inspired by the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines, which had been known to prevent landslides through employing a sophisticated drainage system. The design iteration maintained a height of 0.2m per step, with a focus on making it easier to travel on foot. The width of each step varies and reveals opportunities for appropriation, such as in the form of temporal housing and urban agriculture.

‘Controlling’ terrace and dwelling opportunity detail



A similar application of the steps was incorporated into designated waterways, which converges smaller watersheds to create a drain for excess water during torrential rainfall, as that is one of the major triggers of large scale landslides. Stepped terraces and waterway 3D modelling exploration

My terracing and waterway iteration creates controlled points of access up the hill, limiting what can be built in certain areas, as well as act as drainage channels during rainstorms. This allows for a more controlled environment where the landslide becomes more predictable.



140 46

Path of transition/climb

Landslides caused by rain

Reduce risk

Terracing Controls access


Stepped waterway

Dwelling opportunity More open

Scale = Large Site = Large Design = @Large

From this iteration I began to understand the importance of strategic planning for future events. By controlling how much water infiltrates the soil we are able to prevent large scale calamity, while at the same time allowing small scale landslides to still occur at a controlled (prepared) environment. Excess water drained through the waterway can be collected for use in the bamboo plantations, or urban agriculture plots.





‘Diffusing/Protecting/Cultivating’ Plan 1:10000 For this strategy of protection in my design, I am proposing a bamboo plantation with a planting schedule for different layers. The idea is that if one layer is not sufficient to diffuse a landslide event, consequent layers will. Wu Sau

Technique: Wu Sau Strategy: Protect

護手 protecting hand

The aim of this strategy is to support the primary defence, acting as the secondary or tertiary defence in case the primary fails. This strategy of applying a ‘secondary guard’ is to account for the possibility that the ‘primary guard’ fails to diffuse the entire force of a landslide. It acts to buffer larger landslides while becoming a rule for harvesting the bamboo; because there should always be at least two layers of bamboo plantation. 48

Grandmaster Ip Man doing Wu Sau (Ip Man, n.d.) during the Siu Nim Tau form

Wu Sau side view


‘Diffusing/Protecting/Cultivating’ Masterplan 1:25000

This design iteration layers the bamboo plantation together with redirection dams to create a combined buffer which diffuses and absorbs the force of the landslide, while still being able to protect the vulnerable area (possibly settlements).

Bamboo Plantations acts as buffers to diffuse the force of the landslide.


The serrated catchment dams redirects the landslide into little pockets where the debris is caught and if there are spill overs, it will be caught by the next pocket in line.

Slope failure area High ground water (from torrential rainfall) loosens the soil structure and causes the landslide.


Other natural processes which also cause landslides are earthquakes and volcanic activity, frequency of landslide occurrence can also be tied to El Nino effects. Bamboo and various other types of native vegetation help catch the debris of the landslide, preventing it from going further down the slope. The collected soil helps the plants grow back after the landslide.


‘Diffusing & Cultivating’ Section BB 1:2000


‘Water Pooling Square’ collects the watershed during rainy seasons or becomes a public open space when it is dry; with the changing of water quantity the size of the space will be changed as well, the natural processes controlling the amount of space we are able to use. Bamboo plantations are mixed into the planting of the vegetation, but can be harvested while still maintaining a protective belt between the landslide zones and the settlements.



DIFFUSING/PROTECTING/CULTIVATING: LIFE/BAMBOO Soil stabilization bamboo spacing 1,100 plants per hectare are needed for erosion control and landslide mitigation, and can be combined with other fast growing trees.

3m 3m


Productive commercial bamboo spacing 400 clumps per hectare, or 160 clumps per acre, good for species such as Guadua angustifolia.




Bund and Trench method The bund and trench method is good as a planting method, as the bamboo will thrive on the well-worked and turned over soil from the trenches. Soil from a landslide can be added onto the mound around the clumps. Trenches can be used for irrigation, using water redirected from the watershed/stepped waterways.





Guadua angustifolia

Bamboo Harvesting

(Guadua Aug, n.d.)

Bamboo Materials


(Bamboo cor, n.d.)

(Bamboo plant harvest, n.d.)

Bamboo Harvesting

(Bamboo timber, n.d.)

(Bamboo cut, n.d.)



Harvest/production Bamboo plantation Increased = Reduced Risk of landslide damage

$$$$$$ Economic gain

Landslide force

better living conditions Buffer 01 Buffer 02



Might be

Monoculture Destructive force


Problematic to local vegetation

Saves/Protects Creative force

From this iteration I realised that whilst having ‘protective’ layers is important to prepare for larger landslides, I also need to be aware of how a monoculture of bamboo might affect the local vegetation/ecology. A possible scenario might be to integrate bamboo layers at first as support to the regrowth of local vegetation (which grow at a much slower pace), and eventually fully integrate them into parts of the slope where it does not affect the efficiency of harvesting the bamboo.


The Way of the Bamboo

Bamboo was selected in my design iteration because it is very flexible both in its quality as well as its functionality. It has a strong affinity to my design philosophy of adaptation and resilience, which was important as I wanted to use vegetation which has multipurpose values. Bamboo has been known throughout Chinese history as a symbol of longevity, due to the way it grows, and its ability to ‘spring back’ even after getting flattened.

3:29 Bruce Lee talking about the bamboo stick in his movie: Game of Death <>

In the movie Game of Death by Bruce Lee, a famous dialogue between Bruce’s character Hai Tien, and the 3rd floor guardian of the pagoda (played by Bruce’s real life student, Dan Inosanto), demonstrates Bruce Lee’s philosophy and his view of traditional martial arts. Here Bruce uses the bamboo whip he wields as a metaphor to suggest that one has to become flexible, like the bamboo, and that such flexibility will be able to overcome the traditional and somewhat flashier styles, albeit that they might have more power.


Hai Tien: [as Tien moves an unconscious Cheh out of the way Hai Tien prepares to fight with his bamboo whip] You know baby, this bamboo is longer, more flexible and very much alive, and if your flashy routine cannot keep up with the speed and elusiveness of this thing here, all I can say is you will be in deep trouble. 3rd Floor Guardian: That we will have to find out. Hai Tien: [during the fight Hai Tien gains the upper hand] I am telling you it is difficult to have a rehearsed routine to fit in with broken rhythm [they fight and Hai Tien hits the guardian again] Hai Tien: see, rehearsed routines, lack the flexibility to adapt. Script found at IMDB website


The Way of the Bamboo

The inherent qualities of bamboo and more importantly for me, the philosophical symbolism and connotations that come with using bamboo made it an obvious choice. Several species of bamboo grow naturally in El Salvador and surrounding countries, and can be used for many different things, from building material, timber, clothing, to food and more, as a harvested product. As a plant and as part of a forest/plantation it becomes connected to the site, literally. Its root system will form a network over the ground of the slope, holding the nutrient rich top soil down and preventing it from being washed out by torrential rain. Which then becomes important for other vegetation (which grow much slower than bamboo) to thrive in. The role and the importance of bamboo does not simply end at the event of the landslide, but continues over a much longer period of time to reach and affect a broader aspect of life in San Marcos. The bamboo plantations were inspired by the fact that it is an environmentally friendly material and abundant in nature, grows faster than many other fast growing trees and therefore becomes more effective as treatment to a damaged/ vulnerable sites such as landslide susceptible locations. These qualities make it possible to be grown by disadvantaged communities such as those residing in the tugurios and become a way for these settlements to advance financially through the income/commerce it generates as a micro economy, as well as socially as the community is bound through a communal responsibility to improve the environment they live in.



â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Structureâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; plan 1:10000 The original aim of this design iteration was to explore how a literal translation of a Wing Chun technique into a design of a building might enable smaller scale building interventions to survive a landslide event that passes through the settlement.

Technique: Bong Sau structure Strategy: Structure, Deflection The aim of this strategy is to deflect a much larger force through using the right structure, form and positioning for which the larger energy can be transferred. This strategy applies the Bong Sau structure to the roof of a building; by positioning the building so that it is embedded in the ground, the roof can transfer the energy of a landslide over and past the building, without destroying the building itself. 56

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Bong Sau strategy


‘Structure’ - Deflective Dwelling plan 1:50

‘Structure’ - Deflective Dwelling Section Elevation

51 57

Bong Sau structure translation

Bong Sau structure

Bong Sau roof structure

Flow over structure 58




Wing Chun technique


Bong Sau Trans la



Reacts when landslide occurs


Existing problem

El Salvador Slum dwellers

Embedded into the slope

Individualism Avoids direct hit “I”


Don’t care about

Uncooperative in community

I realised that a small scaled structure is but one tiny seedling in a forest, which means it will be unlikely to survive a bush fire, even if it has been coated with protection. What this analogy means is that even if a perfect structure to deflect landslides was built in a tugurios, as a dwelling it cannot deflect and protect the rest of the buildings which have not been designed to withstand/deflect such a massive force. Furthermore, upon reading a report about disaster mitigation in El Salvador’s precarious urban settlements, the idea of individual buildings deflecting a landslide becomes unrealistic in the sense that it will not help the rest of the community. The report reveals that ‘improvements’ to one’s home in landslide susceptible locations often increased the risk of landslides for the


Disaster risk

rest of the community. This is due to people working to protect their own homes and assets with little regard to the rest of the community; such as taking bricks from retaining walls to build a wall for their own dwelling. However I also realised that such a structure could perhaps be an important building for the settlement, perhaps as a hospital or community gathering centre, which means that it may still be considered as a strategy worth investigating further into.



‘Dispersing’ Plan 1:10000 In this design iteration, I explored the notion of dispersion; using ‘fill’ to create dispersion mounds that would divide the force of landslides in two, to be redirected into cavities ‘cut’ in the ground. Tan Sau

Technique: Tan Sau Strategy: Dispersion


The aim of this strategy is to disperse a larger force into smaller forces. This strategy was used to divide the destructive force of landslides, to lower the speed and power of the landslide, and to reduce the impact it makes on the settlement.




攤手 dispersing hand





‘Dispersing’ Detail Plan 1:500


Dispersing Cut/Fill

Path/Access Space

Mound/Dwelling Area

Cavity/Catchment Area



‘Dispersing’ Section Elevation CC 1:200

The cavities would trap the debris until it overflows, in which case it will be divided again by the next dispersion mound down the hill.



On the top of the dispersion mounds are areas which would not normally be hit by landslides, and therefore suitable for dwellings to be built on. Even if a large landslide spills over the top of the dispersion mound, it will flow over the dwellings, as they are embedded into the mound, similar to the Bong Sau building.

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Dispersingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Section Elevation DD 1:200



This iteration applied the strategy of dispersion in order to weaken the force of landslides as it happens, and captures the debris in the cavities which can be used for growing crops as well as rebuilding any damaged parts of the dispersion mounds. It allowed me to explore the project at a medium scale where I had to consider access of the mounds and cavities, which also gave me ideas on how these spaces might be used.



Landslide Dispersing point


Landslide force split up


New soil Recreation

‘Fill’ mound Open space

‘Cut’ cavity

Urban Agriculture

Catches Debris

Less mass = less force = less destructive

By dispersing the force of a landslide and dividing up the debris, spreading it over a large area to protect the mounds where dwellings and other infrastructure may be located, the power of the landslide becomes thinned, and easier to manipulate. This means that the act of dispersing the landslide force can reduce the risk of landslide damage while retaining the advantages of having a landslide occur.



(Double Chi Sau, n.d.)

Chi Sau

Grandmaster Ip Man and the young Bruce Lee doing the double hand Chi Sau exercise.

éť?ć&#x2030;&#x2039; sticky hands

Technique: Chi Sau Strategy: Reaction The aim of this strategy is to react to a situation in order to perform what is necessary to turn the situation around, instead of predetermining a response. This strategy requires us to not design in anticipation, but instead we should design in preparation, for reactions to events that will happen. Maximum preparation will allow us to react effectively against different events, whenever and wherever and in whatever order they may occur. 66


This final iteration would be an amalgamation of my previous design explorations. Based on the technique of Chi Sau, to train sensitivity and the ability to react to a situation rather than predetermine a response. The strategy would be tested through employing a time line which depicts the constantly changing environment, where my different design iterations will be implemented at different times to suggest a way this might develop in real life, just like a martial artist training to perfect their techniques a bit at a time, to prepare them for the unexpected situations that might occur. Further development may see that the time line evolve beyond just a single linear event, but split into multiple scenarios depending on what design iteration gets implemented. What if the landslide occurs early? What if there were other complications and influences during the construction period for the design iterations? How can my design react to these changes?


Ship access route


Inner breakwaters become areas for small buildings, access by car and boat

Vegetation Bioshields

Tsunami design strategy for the town of Kamaishi

Mangrove Bioshield


Seawall and catchment pockets

Section of the breakwater and bioshield


The philosophy of ‘acceptance’ is important to disaster survival because it allows us to concentrate not on rejecting the event, but rather accept that it may one day happen. The latter allows us to prepare psychologically and physically to be able to overcome the eventual catastrophe, whereas the former provides a false sense of security through complacency and reliance on walls and technology in an attempt to keep the dangerous side of nature out. In addition to landslide interventions I also researched other disasters, such as the tsunami, chosen in the wake of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami event. I reviewed the successfulness of the breakwaters in the town of Kamaishi, which boasted the Guinness world’s deepest breakwakter record. These breakwaters however, failed to prevent the tsunami from hitting the town of Kamaishi, wiping out much of its coast side infrastructure. This led me to consider what it means to mitigate a disaster? How can we go up against the forces of nature? In my research I was compared two main approaches to tsunami mitigation; hard style of seawalls; and soft style of vegetation bioshields. My design iteration at the end of this research combined both into one strategy as I did not believe one method is enough to account for all the possibilities. The design iteration for tsunami defence utilises sandbars and breakwaters designed to dissipate the energy of the large waves. Using multiple layers and angles to reflect and deflect the waves so that much of its destructive energy is dissipated, my design iteration did not attempt to keep the waves out, but instead ‘accepted’ that it will occur and was designed to control how the wave passes through each layer of defence.



{Please accept that this is almost at the end of the book}


So far through my iterations I’ve explore ideas based on Wing Chun techniques, translating them into strategies which can be applied in the landscape. These strategies are ‘redirection’, ‘control’, ‘protection’, ‘dispersion’, ‘structure’ and the last one being ‘reaction’. I have tested these strategies using various methods, including hand sketching, 2D and 3D modelling, as well as conceptual/theory based analysis. What I’ve come to realise is that there are two time-scales at which my project is working at; an instantaneous time-scale where the event of the landslide happens; and a much longer time-scale where my designs are being implemented. This forces me to think dynamically, as well as spatially at these scales, in order to grasp the limits of what my design presents. The next step in my design is to write a scenario based on how the elements of previous design iterations/strategies are formed from the implementation stage. This will then allow me to see how and if my design will be able to be implemented over time. Furthermore, once this scenario is realised, then alternative scenarios will need to be tested, in order to understand the true meaning of being ‘reactive’ to different situations. This will not only test the validity of my concept, but also the philosophy of ‘acceptance’. In Wing Chun, it is said that ‘reaction’ is faster than ‘action’. Because for someone to initiate an action, they must first think about what action to use, then the brain will signal to the limb to perform the action, e.g,, a punch. But for someone to react to something, such as the punch, it will rely on their reflex, which takes years of sensitivity training in Chi Sau to achieve. The reflex will automatically ‘react’ to the punch as it comes without having to think about how, and where the punch is thrown. At a higher level, one is able to read the intent of an opponent’s strike before they themselves know it, and just as easily dissipate and neutralise any opposing forces thrown at them. The landscape equivalent of this is that by understanding how and where a landslide may happen, we will not need to anticipate it, but instead prepare for it when the ‘intent’ is felt. This intent could be in the form of a rain storm, which indicates a landslide might follow. At this stage this is how I imagine this exploration will be carried out.


Web References Dave’s Landslide Blog: Some statistics on disasters worldwide. 2011. Dave’s Landslide Blog: Some statistics on disasters worldwide. [ONLINE] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 September 2011]. El Salvador - Climate. 2011. El Salvador - Climate. [ONLINE] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 September 2011]. El Salvador - Quality of Life. 2011. El Salvador - Quality of Life. [ONLINE] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 September 2011]. Ganu, D,. 2010. Effects of Landslides [online publication] Available at: <> [Accessed 13 June 2011] GIB, 2009. Why do people live on dangerous steep slopes in Guatemala? Landslides under Microscope [blog] Available at: <http://landslides-gib.> [Accessed 12 June 2011]. Guadua Bamboo, 2011. What is Guadua Angustifolia Kunth? [online] Available at: < html> [Accessed 16 May 2011]. International Sabo Network, 2004. Technical Guidelines [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 April 2011]. Irwin, S., 2010. Bamboo And Soil Erosion: Holding The Earth Together One Plant At A Time, Green Earth News [blog] Available at: <http://blog.> [Accessed on 11 June 2011]. Japanese Sabo Association, 2001. Sabo in Japan. Sabo Publicity Centre. [Online Publication] Available at: < sabo/english/> [Accessed 8 April 2011]. Pruned, 2010. Disaster Tumuli. Pruned [blog] 15 June 2010, Available at: <> [Accessed 16 march 2011]. San Salvador: Weather from 2011. San Salvador: Weather from [ONLINE] Available at: < topic/san-salvador> [Accessed 11 September 2011]. The Game of Death (1978) - Memorable quotes. 2011. The Game of Death (1978) - Memorable quotes. [ONLINE] Available at: < com/title/tt0077594/quotes> [Accessed 24 September 2011]. Tim. 2004. Tim’s El Salvador Blog [blog] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 March 2011]. Tim. 2004. Tim’s El Salvador Blog: El Salvador’s slums. [ONLINE] Available at: <> [Accessed 7 September 2011]. UNDP El Salvador - Descargas | Pobreza | Documentos DH y ODM. 2011. UNDP El Salvador - Descargas | Pobreza | Documentos DH y ODM. [ONLINE] Available at: <,com_docman/task,cat_view/gid,253/Itemid,99999999/?mosmsg=Est%E1> [Accessed 11 September 2011]. Wamsler, C. 2007 ‘Bridging the gaps: stakeholder-based strategies for risk reduction and financing for the urban poor’, Environment and Urbanization, [ONLINE] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 September 2011] Wing Chun, 2009. Wing Chun Hands. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 13 June 2011].


REFERENCES Image References [Bamboo cor] n.d. [Photograph] Available at: < Bamboo%20Harvesting_files/image014.jpg> [Accessed 12 June 2011]. [Bamboo cut] n.d. [Photograph] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 June 2011]. [Bamboo plant harvest] n.d. [Photograph] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 June 2011]. [Bamboo timber] n.d. [Photograph] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 June 2010]. [Chi Sau] n.d. [Photograph] Available at: < qgtw439l8q52iw97LRMqobiDo1_500.jpg> [Accessed 12 June 2011]. [Double Chi Sau] n.d. [Photograph] Available at: < n76171832349_1627788_4194186.jpg> [Accessed 11 August 2011]. [Guadua Aug] n.d. [Photograph] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 April 2011]. [Guatemala] n.d. [Photograph] Available at: < jpg> [Accessed 12 June 2011]. [Ip Man] n.d. [Photograph] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 June 2011]. [Landslide] 2001. [Photograph] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 June 2011]. [PRoF] n.d. [Photograph] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 April 2011]. [Single hand CS1] n.d. [image online] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 June 2011]. [Single hand CS2] n.d. [image online] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 June 2011]. [Single hand CS3] n.d. [image online] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 June 2011]. [SS Slum] n.d. [Photograph] Available at: < jpg> [Accessed 9 August 2011].

[LS1], [LS2], [LS3] on page 7, [SDA] on page 8, are sourced from: ‘GUIDELINES FOR DEVELOPMENT OF WARNING AND EVACUATION SYSTEM AGAINST SEDIMENT DISASTERS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: BASIS OF SEDIMENT DISASTER’ - GUIDELINES FOR CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER, 2004. Technical Guideline: INTERNATIONAL SABO NETWORK, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan. [ONLINE] Available at: < gijyutu/pdf/sediment_e.pdf> [Accessed 9 April 2011]. [SM AUP] on page 21 is extracted from: ‘Mapa de Pobreza Urbana y Exclusión Social El Salvador. Volumen 2. Atlas. Localización de AUP.pdf’, which can be found here: UNDP El Salvador - Descargas | Pobreza | Documentos DH y ODM. 2011. UNDP El Salvador - Descargas | Pobreza | Documentos DH y ODM. [ONLINE] Available at: <,com_docman/task,cat_view/gid,253/Itemid,99999999/?mosmsg=Est%E> [Accessed 11 September 2011]. Images on Pages 26, 27 are sourced from: Pruned, 2010. Disaster Tumuli. Pruned [blog] 15 June 2010, Available at: <> [Accessed 16 march 2011]. Images on Pages 28, 29 are sourced from: Geuze, A., 2009. Blue Isles Plan. Topos the International Review of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, 66, pp.36-41. Images on Pages 30, 31 are sourced from: Japanese Sabo Association, 2001. Sabo in Japan. Sabo Publicity Centre. [Online Publication] Available at: < sabo/english/> [Accessed 8 April 2011]. Google earth images are used in the creation of some of the drawings, diagrams and mappings. All other images created by the author (Zhipeng Cai).


Books Rose, W. I., 2004. Natural Hazards in El Salvador. Geological Society of America.

Web Resources Barbey Thomas, 2011. Avalanche protection structures by Landslag ehf, Siglufjordur, Iceland. Vulgare [blog] 17 December 2008, Available at: <> [Accessed 16 march 2011]. Baum, R. L., Godt, J. W. and Highland, L., 2008. “Landslide mapping in Seattle, Washington” in Landslides and Engineering Geology of the Seattle, Washington, Area. The Geological Society of America. [online e-book] Available at: <> [Accessed 16 March 2011]. Brettcherry, 2010. How many people die from landslides? Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience Blog [blog] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 June 2011]. California Geological Survey, 2003. Hazards From “Mudslides”...Debris Avalanches and Debris Flows in Hillside and Wildfire Areas [Online Publication] (November 2003) Available at: <http://ftp//> [Accessed 16 march 2011]. Chung, W., 2011, Wing Chun and the Principles and Philosophy of Design by Instructor Wilfred Chung [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 March 2011]. Davis, M., 2006. Planet of Slums. [Online publication interview] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 March 2011]. Earthtrends, 2003. Forests, Grasslands, and Drylands - El Salvador, EarthTrends Country Profiles. [Online publication] Available at: <> [Accessed 16 May 2011]. Fujikawa Sabo, 2011. Outline of Sabo Projects 2007. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 9 April 2011]. Grímsdóttir, H., 2008. Avalanche hazard mapping and risk assessment in Iceland [online Publication] Icelandic Meteorological Office, Avalanche Research Center, IS-400 Ísafjörður, ICELAND. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 march 2011]. Hargreaves Associates, 2011, GUADALUPE RIVER PARK [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 16 March 2011]. Horelli, J. A., 2005. Landslides in Hong Kong. [online thesis] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2011]. Human Rights Watch, 2004. El Salvador: Child Labor on Sugar Plantations. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 16 may 2011]. In times of change the learners will inherit the earth, - Eric Hoffer quote. 2011. In times of change the learners will inherit the earth, - Eric Hoffer quote. [ONLINE] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 September 2011] International Sabo Network, 2004. International Sabo Association. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 April 2011]. Jóhannesson, T., Gauer, P., Issler, P. and Lied, k., 2009. The design of avalanche protection dams. European Commission. [online publishing] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 March 2011].


BIBLIOGRAPHY Journal Geuze, A., 2009. Blue Isles Plan. Topos the International Review of Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, 66, pp.36-41.

Mathema, P. and Joshi, J., 2011. Assessment of small-scale landslide treatment in Nepal [Online publication] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 April 2011]. Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters | GFDRR. 2011. Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters | GFDRR. [ONLINE] Available at: <> [Accessed 25 September 2011]. Palsgraaf, P., 2005. City upon a Chicken. Pruned [blog] (17 February 209) Available at: <> [Accessed 23 march 2011]. Petley Dave, 2011. The Landslide Blog [blog] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 June 2011]. Popescu, M. E. and Sasahara, K., 2011 Engineering Measures for Landslide Disaster Mitigation [online publication] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 April 2011]. Progressive Wing Chun Milton Keynes . 2011. Progressive Wing Chun Milton Keynes . [ONLINE] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 September 2011]. Rae, A., 2002. Update on Recent Volcanoes and Earthquakes, Geofile online. [online publication] Available at: <> [Accessed 22 March 2011]. Rose, W. I., 2004. Natural Hazards in EL Salvador. Geological Society of America. [online e-book] Avilable at: <> [Accessed 16 March 2011]. Rozell, N,. 1998. Avalanches, Landslides, Good For Some, Alaska Science Forum. [Online article] Available at: <> [Accessed 13 June 2011] Sanyal, S., 2010. Reinventing Slums: No Home Left Behind. [online] 11 September. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 march 2011]. Schuster, R. and Highland, M. L., 2011. Impact of Landslides and Innovative Landslide-Mitigation Measures on the Natural Environment, Colorado, U.S.A. [online publication] Available at: <> [accessed 13 June 2011]. Tรฆkker, C., 2010, ORANGE TREES TO STOP MUDSLIDES. Cowi [online] (24 March 2011). Available at: <> [Accessed 16 March 2011]. The Association of Chartered Engineers in Iceland, 2008, International Symposium on Mitigative Measures against Snow Avalanches [online publication] Egilsstaรฐir, Iceland. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 March 2011]. The Live Dummy. 2011. The Live Dummy. [ONLINE] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 September 2011]. Usher Shaun, 2007. Incredible engineering: the maeslant storm surge barrier. deputydog [blog] (26 November 2007), Available at: <> [Accessed 6 march 2011]. What Is Urban Upgrading?. 2011. What Is Urban Upgrading?. [ONLINE] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 September 2011] Wing Chun Kuen. 2011. Wing Chun Kuen. [ONLINE] Available at: <> [Accessed 23 September 2011]


{Please accept my thanks for reading the entire book}

Zhipeng Cai Concise ADR