2011 haiti_utk publication

One to Another

A Downloadable Publication from the 2011 Haiti UTK Studio


WBIR Report of the Haiti Studio

Introduction haiti_utk

Welcome to the Haiti UTK site! The work on these pages reflects student engagement in design for both a school and housing for the community of Fonds des Bloncs, Haiti in collaboration with the Haiti Christian Development Fund. The project was initiated in the early fall of 2010 and subsequently a class of 19 students, in the spring of 2011, was given the responsibility of deisgning a secondary school. The school is under constuction. A new group of students is now hard at work developing new housing in Fonds des Blancs. The work of these students can be seen in the pages of this blog. Students of the class will be traveling to Haiti Februay 2-6 to collect addiional data. It is anticipated that this second phase of the project will be completed in late April with construction starting summer 2012. The work of the students is being guided by three primary faculty, John McRae, David Matthews, and Chris King, a local practictioner. The students during their exploration will engage a wide range of issues including context, culture, resources, climate and other outside factors not common to their expereince. 

Students: Cassidy Barnett, Aaron Brown, Sarah Heimermann, Mitzi Coker, Emily Corgan, Ben Cross, Peter Duke, Emily Fike, Sam Funari, Lauren Heile, Kendra McHaney, Lauren Metts, Morgan Oiler, Bernice Paez, Forrest Reynolds, Emily Ryan, James Sawyer, Zachary Smith, Robert Thew, Cory Wikerson Faculty: John McRae, Chris King, David Matthews

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Special Thanks!

The Haiti Studio for spring 2012 is being supported by HaitiServe foundation based in Knoxville Tennessee, that is focused on outreach and engagement in improving conditions in Haiti. 



This unit and shelving system was a modification of the Rolling On Haiti group early designs. 

complete packaged unit with polyurethane bag for protection and water storage.

The EMRM (Emergency Medical Response Module) is for emergency applications and rapid relief.  It does not contain enough supplies for an extended period of time, but enough for immediate relief in the wake of a disaster.  The module can be scaled up or down (in other words, it can have more or fewer shelving units) depending on the scale and amount of transportation available.  The unit consists of three components:  a tent, shelving unit (or units), and pack (or packs).  All components are modified of existing products.  After the initial group design, the shelving system was given a few more modifications that include:  transparent fold-down covers for the shelves, a more rugged shell, and watertight gasket (precedent:  Otterbox dry cases).  The packs were then specified to carry extra medical supplies and the tent itself.  Finally the tent was a more intensive design to approximate the packed weight and size for a doctor or nurse to carry in a pack.  The precedent for the tent was the Kelty Parthenon 8 (http://www.kelty.com/p-358-parthenon-8.aspx), a lightweight, tall car camping tent weighing only 27 pounds packed.  With the 143 square footage existing, once modified (width narrowed, length extended, peak height increased), the packed weight at 200 square feet (with a peak height of 7 feet) was estimated to be about 45 pounds.  The fabric of the tent was specified to be primarily mesh to accommodate ventilation while keeping bugs and dust at bay.  A rainfly could be placed over the top of the entire unit or one compartment to protect from the rain, protect patients during surgery, or add privacy if needed or desired.  The rainfly was specified to be a light color (with a printed logo) so that diffuse light would accommodate surgery and examinations.  Assembly of the tent would be dependent on how familiar the doctors and nurses are with the system, but could take between 20 minutes and 1 hour.             

elevations for the tent.  dotted lines are netting (the majority of the tent without rainfly is nylon netting).

Critique:  the individual components of this unit were designed, but not integrated with each other as fully as possible.  The tent was more developed while the system as a whole was slightly incomplete—a complete set-up image was needed.  Because of its modularity, the unit can be seen as a scale-able system, dependent on the size of the disaster and availability of transportation.  The tent is the main shelter portion that all components are housed within, in the configuration needed for the emergency, number of patients, and number of doctors and nurses.  Because of the lack of the complete integration drawing, the different uses (surgery, rain condition, examination, clinic, etc.) were not as evident as it could have been.  The final critique was the reality of doctors and nurses being able to carry a 40+ pound pack while carrying the shelving system.  In retrospect, a different system could be used in which either the supply packs were eliminated and the unit consisted of just the shelving system and the tent pack.  This would be faster travel, more compact, and give the possibility to add a lightweight folding cot or stretcher that could be more reasonable to carry than a heavy supply pack. 

completely opened shelving unit.  legs for stability (precedent aluminum cot poles hold 300 lbs).

Presentation version found here:  https://docs.google.com/folder/d/0B3vupU0SSB_Ma2FwMXFLYVRYb2c/edit?usp=sharing



Mobile Medical Aid for Haiti, by Haiti

Mobile Medical Unit can be transported by a person, donkey, or Tap-Tap (Truck).

This project would provide the opportunity for the distribution of medical aid to Haitian people in remote locations. The main components include a 55 gallon oil drum and two wheels. The size of the mobile medical unit bridges the gap between a standard backpack and a full service ambulance. The mobile medial unit can also be used as a modular unit to transport a larger amount of medical supplies. Lastly, and most important, the majority of the materials needed to construct this project can be found and assembled RIGHT IN HAITI.

Exploded view of the Mobile Medical Unit's components.

In continuation of this project, I will redesign the handle attachment to the oil drum. In the present case, the rope wraps around the barrel and is strung through a pipe to provide a rigid separation between either other barrels or the person transporting the Mobile Medical Unit. However, further thought needs to be taken on the functionality and ease of transportation.

The storage container rolls up to fit in the barrel and unrolls for easy access and easy sight lines to all available supplies.

As previously stated, all of the materials to construct the unit, except for the storage container, can be found in Haiti. This allows for a cost effective way to produce and maintain the unit. The design assumes that the Haitians ability to maintain Tap-Taps puts them beyond the skills needed to construct this unit.


This system of manufacturing also allows for ease in the transportation of medical supplies from the United States. The only component that will not be produced in Haiti is the storage container. This way, the container can be manufactured, packed with supplies, and shipped to Haiti all in one action.


The design and materials allows this mobile medical unit to be durable and traverse many types of terrains.

Mobile Medical Unit used as a modular device to transport a larger amount of medical supplies.

This first project has also helped me by providing an initial understanding of typical medical needs in Haiti and the limitations in available construction material and methods.  The resources in the United States, which are typically taken for granted, have primed us as designers to design in a way that we are most accustomed to and this puts us at a distinct disadvantage for the upcoming project. In conclusion, I hope to continue to augment my understanding and knowledge of the Haitian culture in an effort to best meet the needs of the Haitian people both medically and psychologically.



BlueCore | Backcountry Medical Response

 watercolor diagram of pack; transparency showing insert

BlueCore reaches the areas where no other response teams can go. BlueCore is an emergency response system designed in reaction to the Haitian earthquake crisis of 2010. A team of backpacking doctors and nurses heads out into rural areas to set up temporary camps and provide medical relief to doctors. Doctors carry easily-recognizable hybrid backpacks that contain emergency medical supplies and enough gear for the team to stay up to 5 days. 

BlueCore team members travel in with gear on a vehicle to remote urban areas. From these areast he members set out on foot to isolated rural areas for a multiple-day backpacking excursion. Team members arrive at their location and set up camp for five days where they will assist Haitians with basic medical needs such as minor wounds, GI issues, ulcers, cleanliness and sanitation. The backpack is also able to carry surgical equipment. 

modeled diagram of pack insert; exploded axon

The BlueCore crossover packs are the foundation of the system. Inspired by the efficiency of military gear and the ergonomics of backcountry gear, the hybrid packs have a specialized compartment at the core that houses a removable cylindrical insert containing medical equipment. This removable nested core is a compressible compartmentalized tower that zips apart into smaller segments so that doctors and nurses can work faster and more flexibly under pressure. All BlueCore gear packs out just as easily as it packs in; storage zones within the pack as well as latch points outside the pack allow for an easy trip out. 

The process of coming up with the idea of BlueCore crossover pack was extremely fun and interactive. The Haiti studio is a highly collaborative studio that works together to blast through complex problems in order to generate and identify creative design solutions. The process began by strategically mapping out important issues surrounding the situation in Haiti. As we mapped out our ideas we were able to come up with solutions. Groups presented both in small groups and as a whole to critique ideas and brainstorm together. BlueCore backpacking system is based on a fact that resonated with us after a presentation from the nursing department. Part of the presentation displays text messages from Haitians after the earthquake in remote areas that are asking if others know if they are alive. This resonated with us; we set out to create a system that can go through rough terrain to reach people in remote areas and get help to them. BlueCore is based on ergonomic and ultra-lightweight backpacking gear as well as the masterfully-compartmentalized military medic bags. 



The purpose of this assignment was to respond to natural disaster through a mobile unit. The choice of scale we set for our unit corresponded to the scale of an individual.  Our unit is a mobile backpack. Through our precedent studies, we discovered multiple variations inside the products of military and backcountry backpacks. We studied backpacks such as: Spec Ops, LDN Medical pack, RATS-pack, Osprey...etc. 

Through our research we discovered two different strategies among the various packs. These two focuses were either compartmentalization or space strategy. Most military medical packs sought for an organized approach, where the backcountry packs sought for a spacious approach - leaving the most space for the most storage.

In the mobile medical pack that Michelle and I designed, our focus was to combine the aspects of our researched topics to suit the necessities of the medics in the field.  The unit will not be deployed directly from the hospital, however it will be deployed from a unit in a secondary position.  The backpack is meant to serve tertiary locations, locations where trucks and other various transportation vehicles cannot access.  This mobile medical pack is meant to travel on foot.

Blue Core is the name of this pack.  The driving idea of the pack is surrounded around a blue core of compartmentalization.  Throughout the core, which will be removed out of the back of the pack, are cell  that hold multiple tools and necessities for performing care.  This also allows multiple users to access various tools at different locations, while maintaining order. This core is located on the frame of the pack for ergonomic support.


Privacy Tent for Haiti

Vetiver Plant Provides Breathable Wall For Comfort

This deployable unit was to be used to secure medicine and food prior to distribution.  The materials this tent was to be made from would include locally sourced bamboo and vetiver plants.  Jobs could then be created in cultivation and processing of these sustainable raw materials into fabric and the proper dimensions.  Paint would have would have provided direction with matching colors serving as an international language.  Metal corners fabricated in a more industrialised country would provide rigidity to winds and decrease the time required to assemble the structure.  The deployment of this structure would primarily be in response to natural disasters where food and light medical attention are critically needed.   Regular usage of this package could benefit those living in more isolated area's where aid is more scarce.  These units are meant to be staffed by the people of Haiti allowing them to provide for themselves and provide for their own relief.   This would be an empowering element to the local people and promote education through increased communication.


Basic Instruction on Assembly 

During the development of this project I realized that sustainable aid to Haiti can best be accomplished by educating and empowering the local people.  Promoting basic ideas of sanitation and reinforcing those ideas with proper leadership could do much for the people of Haiti. Due to the actions of irresponsible aid workers new and deadly viruses have been introduced to Haiti.  If local peoples had been given an education on the basic kinds of care that can be sustainable provided in Haiti and then dispatched to carry out that care new foreign disease might not be introduced.

Key elements of a hospital design should include education, local material to stimulate the economy, and geographic awareness to provide patients with comfort.