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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The perception that wildfires are completely preventable has caused many structures and communities to be built in locations that will inevitably experience an uncontrollable fire event, risking human lives and infrastructure. Modification of built environments into fire-adapted communities has been explored in this thesis, through multiple strategies. Central to this analysis is the idea that sustainable human developments could adopt a form of biomimicry and indigenous design informed by the adaptions of plants, animals, and native groups that endure and even thrive with regular cycles of fire. This possibility has been assessed through the scope of fire adaptation strategies available to architects, builders, and urban planners. Design decisions including the strategic placement of buildings in relation to topography, wind, vegetation type, and fuel loads has been considered. Additionally, other mechanisms for adaptation have been assessed, such as fire-retardant building materials, building form, landscaping, and the density of built form on the scale of single homes, and broader communities. The thesis identifies a typical building site, the adjacent community, the potential threats to landscape and buildings posed by wildfire, and then explores design approaches aimed at improving fire adaptability. These factors have been considered and assessed on a qualitative level and offer new recommendations for building within fire zones. These design ideas and principles can then be applied to a variety of landscapes wherein the wildfire is inevitable, thereby exploring how fire-adapted communities may be built to sustain wildfires through a myriad of methods within a range of regions.


First Advisor

Carey Clouse

Second Advisor

Erika Zekos