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The long, rich and diverse history of cities-our "greatest work of art", in the words of Lewis Mumford- features dramatic events that have determined the course of nations. Included among such events are natural disasters. These, in turn, have led to innovative architectural and urban responses and to the development of unique construction practices in various regions. As well as transforming architectural and urban thinking, natural disasters of all kinds constitute a dynamic "cultural laboratory" that, by highlighting the vulnerability of societies, holds long-term consequences for local populations and for global human heritage more generally.