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

Entries in design (2)


Studio Work: Teachers' House_Team 05

This year we were able to expand upon last year’s school design studio.  While the school remains under construction currently, we were charged with providing housing for the influx of teachers now tasked with living locally.  The teachers’ home was designed to accommodate six to eight teachers living as a set of roommates. 


                  After a series of planning studies our group came to the unexpected conclusion that the bathroom of all places would best work as the core of our building.  We knew this formal gesture would be a difficult sell, but after using it as the knuckle between the private bedrooms and the public kitchen, living room, and dining room, we determined it was the correct course of action.

                  The inwardly sloped roofs collect rainwater into an internal collection tank for use with the adjacent water wall within the bathroom.  The inwardly sloping roof also allows for large exterior walls to admit maximum light and ventilation.  The space created in the public core is open but still comfy because the dimensions remained tightly controlled to minimize expense of construction.  





Next steps

Sketch of the "Urban Alternative" site

Our team has honed in on several key issues that are necessary for a successful and fulfilling project.  Each issue will hopefully guide us to a total design.  Each issue was forged from different sources.  As a group, we seek to apply our knowledge gleaned from Jean and Joy Thomas, our observations of the Haitian people, and the work and insights of our fellow classmates.

Sketches completed throughout trip

It is imperative that we bend our designs to suit the Thomas’s desires.  Their insights are really the only insights we have into the nuances of Fond-de-Blanc.  Without them we would not be in Haiti.  They are also the leaders of that community.  What they see fit should be staunchly acknowledged.  The community of Fond-le-Blanc is already seen throughout Haiti as the destination.  It has successfully led a program to plant millions of trees where other regions have failed.  It has accommodated many earthquake refugees without interference.  It has been and will continue to lead Haiti so long as John and Joy are at the leadership helm.  While our design must satisfy our own exacting standards, it is perhaps more important that the design cater to our guide’s initiatives.

We saw how the Haitian community at Fond-de-Blanc lived through a visitor’s lens.  We cannot and will not claim to understand everything we saw.  And we only saw a portion of Fond-des-Blanc.  Learning and interpreting from the best of our observations is really the activity of paramount importance.  Everything we saw was important, but there is a hierarchy that we must ascertain as we sift through all the new and exciting sights.  “Should we consider safety, or running water more of a priority?” we may have asked before departing from America.  The answer is still up to contention but we should continue to challenge our preconceived notions against actual observations.  These observations will be the driver of a total design.

Home in Fond-des-Blancs

Our fellow classmates all made compelling arguments regarding their group’s designs.  Our group needs to learn from them.  Furthermore, our group should collaborate with the others in an effort to cut the fat and maintain the strengths.  When combined they will surely compose a mutual design much stronger than an individual effort.  Each group will surely attempt to incorporate their observations, and who knows, maybe they were looking at something else than we were.  Using one another will be of increasing benefit as we seek to pare down this project into one sleek venture.

We cannot wait to return to Fond-des-Blancs!