130207_Project Abstract


This project aims to develop a timber based construction system for Haiti. Such a system, by creating a demand for timber, will stimulate a local demand for wood creating new forests on Haiti. These forests will be productive supplying jobs as we as improving the ecology whilst also providing the materials for earthquake resistant timber framed buildings for Haiti.
This will bring together ecology and education in a city design for Haiti which cultivates, studies, and uses sustainable timber to create a new localised timber based construction system. Building typology is based around Haitian vernacular ‘Lakou’1 residential typologies, built from timber, integrated into plantations where plantation ownership is in the hands of local residents.
The past century saw the eradication of all but 2% of Haiti’s forests.2 This stopped Haitian self-dependence of fuel source at the same time creating a landscape devoid of topsoil limiting agriculture and destabilising the earth. A consequence of replantation is increasing the absorbency and stability of the land. Therefore to maximise solutions I am locating the project North of Port au Prince on land slowly being washed into the Caribbean.3 This area is also bounded by areas with the most social problems and joblessness, in an attempt to embody as many solutions into the project as well these areas will provide initial sources of labour.
In the short term the use of bamboo is proposed from research showing the durability of bamboo to grow in Haiti’s climate, the low consumption of water, the speed of growth, ease of working and combined strength and flexibility.
The project starts by developing a localised bamboo plantation within Port-au-Prince. Building systems on the tectonic scale are evaluated on easy build ability. To improve the ecology Forest Gardening techniques are employed to generate a healthier forest ecology and open the potential of secondary agricultural opportunities.
The typology of building is the ‘Lakou’4, or ‘courtyard dwelling’. Here four to five families live in close proximity, sharing utilities and fostering cooperation and therefore efficiency and a lower carbon footprint.
Attention is drawn to seismic architectural technology in any building system and the apparent strength of vernacular Haitian architectural technology in the face of the 2010 earthquake. Haitian vernacular timber based construction systems are an important starting point for the project.
Dissemination from the project can be a blueprint to find ways to regenerate local economies as well as improving local ecologies in a sustainable way. Ecology and export are designed to employ and educate.
The project begins with looking at timber architecture at a tectonic scale as well as forestry plantations on an infrastructural scale from this, education, ecology, export and employment form the sustainable basis for the new Haitian urban morphology.

1. Lakou, a Creole word meaning ‘courtyard’. Historic Haitian residential typology fostering local cooperation.
2. Country Profile: Haiti. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (May 2006). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
3. Landslide on south coast of Haiti near village of Nan Diamant. http://gallery.usgs.gov/images/08_05_2010.
4. Lakou, the name given to Haitian vernacular rural way of living. This involves 4 – 6 dwellings around a courtyard communal space.


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