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. 

haiti_utk public blog index


Retired Expatriate 3 BIG IDEAS

Fond-des Blanc






Awareness of culture and environment is a necessity for good design. I selected a building site convenient to the pavilion and the walking bridge in a semi-private setting as it relates to the over-all master plan.  Fruit trees on the west side of the house provides privacy,  reduces summer heat gain, and provide fresh fruit for the homeowner.  In determinig the house program,   I created a simple design, easily replicated.  The entire method of construction and technology, in the form of rainwater harvesting, is independent of imported materials and labor.  The methods used in construction and technology are designed toward the Haitian people, empowering them by creating employment and stability; and by putting housing back into the hands of the people. By creating a simple, easily replicated design, utilizing local labor, and materials; the community can continue with its growth and progress.  




1.       Rainwater Harvesting:   A convenient and adequate supply of water is a necessity for the  homeowner.  The rainwater collection system's design is also a determinant in the over-all design of the home and expressed in the main circulation of the interior.  Where the rainwater converges on the final roof plane, the metal roofing material changes to concrete.  This change in material emphasizes the rains journey to the rain barrel and the main entrance of the home.



2.    Built-in Furniture:  My decision to  incorporate build-in furniture was determined by a number of  factors.  The square footage of the home totals 975.  Utilizing built-ins create more open space  in a small area and provides more storage options.  The design features baskets for storage in kitchen and bedrooms  and custom seat cushions for living and dining area, made of local materials by local craftsmen.   This is a more practical concept and benefits the local economy.   Hiring local craftsmen provides income and promotes pride and involvement in the community.  It is also more cost efficient and logistically easier due to the cost of transportation and the lack of adequate roads.



3.  Emphasis on Public and Private Space: The interior public and private spaces are proportionally equal (diagram 2).  The public interior is defined by the sheltering roof and the exterior public space is defined by a tree canopy.  Where the two  spaces overlap, I incorporated a front porch.  The porch concept connects the public roofed interior space with the outside public exterior space (diagram 4).  A front porch is very important in the Haitian culture.  It serves as "the" social gathering place.


















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































House for Expatriate Retiree

Our team designed a house for expatriate couple returning to Haiti for retirement. Our main concept was to create a tranquil home to live in while implementing diffused lighting, ventilation and local materials. Our concept directly influenced our decision of where to build the house on the site. We chose to place it on a lot on the west side of the site overlooking the river and surrounded by forest. 

We seperated the public and private space of the house and kept a strong connection to the porches of the house. We focused on the connection between the interior and exterior of the house. Since Haitians spend most of their time outdoors we tried to find ways to bring nature inside. The main living area of the house is closed off by a local bamboo system that allows views to the outside as well as light and ventilation throughout. We also used ventblock and louvered windows to increase good ventilation in the house. Our design also features a simple rainwater collection system for the residents use. 


Reflective Closing Statement


The greatest humanitarian challenge we face today is that of providing shelter.   In the Fond-des Blanc design project, as architecture students, we were given the opportunity to design a housing community for the local residence.  When you take people of limited means and put them in well-designed homes, you change their lives by giving them stability and hope.  This positive affirmation carries out into the neighborhood and surrounding communities.





Fond-des Blanc project 3 BIG IDEAS


Awareness of culture and environment is a necessity for good design. I created a simple program, easily replicated; the whole method of construction and technology, in the form of rainwater harvesting, is independent of imported materials and labor. The methods used in construction and technology were designed toward the Haitian people, empowering them by creating employment and stability; and by putting housing back into the hands of the people. 

     3 BIG IDEAS  1. Rainwater Collection:  Water is a necessity for life.   Rainwater collection and storage provides   convenience and stability to the homeowner.   The rainwater collection system relates to  the main circulation of the home.  Where the rainwater converges on the final roof plane,  the metal roofing material changes to concrete, emphasizing the rainwaters final journey to the rain barrel and also expresses the entrance and main circulation in the home.    


2. Hiring local craftsmen and workers empowers the people by providing income to sustain themselves.  It would also be more cost efficient and easier to use local labor and matterials due to the additional expense of transporting supplies over rough inadequate rural roads.   The use of built in furniture creates more open space  in a small area and provides more storage options.  The use of baskets for storage in kitchen and bedrooms and seat cushions for living and dining area are made of local materials by local craftsmen.



3. Emphasis on public and private space, including the important cultural relationship of the front porch as "the neighborhood" social gathering place. 

























































































































Preliminary Housing Design Proposal

Given a 2 day period, we quickly came up with 2 housing designs for our housing community. Our team was assigned "Ex-Patriot: Young Professional" and "Patriot: Retiree"

Our Ex-patriot Young Professional housing design has 2 bedrooms, a master bedroom with a smaller bedroom for guests or children, 1 bath and a large porch/living space.

The design encompasses a butterfly roof to allow for rainwater collection. We still need to do more research on the process of collecting rainwater, but we think the roof would be a great way to channel rainwater.

Our design incorporates vent block placed at a higher level than typical Haitian housing. Our idea behind this was preventing direct sunlight from penetrating the space, but allowing for cross-ventilation. 


Patriot: Retiree housing

The design for this house is similar to our previous design, except we placed the bedrooms on one side of the house and all of the program on the other. The house is divided with a central hallway, which leads inhabitants to the back yard area.


The house incorporates more vent block to create cross ventilation. We also created a porch that is on two sides of the house. We wanted to create an inhabitable porch space, with the option to have a dining area outside.

The long row of vent block above the low roof creates an airy space and allows for indirect sunlight into the hallway