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 House Design (4)


Haiti_UTK: A Reflection of the Semester

This semester has been one full of growth and learning. This course has stretched us as students and designers and given us a better understanding of the various cultures around us. Working in groups with students from both interior design and architecture has forced us to learn to speak the same language. We have learned to listen to each other and respect each other's design abilities. 


Traveling to Haiti added a level of richness to our semester and projects. The ability to survey the site in person and interact with the community gave us a sense of what would be appropriate for the development. It would have been much more difficult to design a successful proposal without having seen the site for ourselves. Also, the ability to work closely with Jean and Joy Thomas was a blessing. They were able to cast a vision for us to follow. Our skype interviews and conversations ensured that we stayed on track with both the overall site development and individual house design. 


This studio has been an incredible opportunity that is rare in the educational environment. Not only did we learn about site development and house design, but we will have the chance to see our houses being built over the next several years. Our success as a class would not have been possible with the help of our professors John McRae, Chris King, and David Matthews. They put in countless hours of critique and structural explanations, for which we are very grateful. 


Patriate Family House - Team 6

Our first house is designed to fit a typical family. Knowing that the use of porch space is essential to daily life in Haiti, we designed our house with sliding doors that open up. This allows the indoor living space to become totally connected with the outdoor environment. 

When designing our floor plan, we wanted the progression of the house to move from public space to private. From the front porch, residents move into a large open living space that contains the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. The back of the house contains 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. This gives the family a more intimate private space that celebrates the desire for shadow and a respite from the sun. 

Knowing that rainwater collection would be a valuable addition to our house, we studied several roof forms before deciding on a butterfly roof. This form allows water to drain to the valley in the middle of the roof. The valley has a slight slope in it to encourage the water to run off the roof and into a cistern located on the side of the house. The use of a butterfly roof allowed us to not only provide the house with rainwater collection, but increases the opportunity for ventilation throughout the house. Screens are located at the top to promote air circulation to cool down the interiors. 

 Click on the link below to view our final construction document set.

Construction Documents


Young Professional Ex-Pat Housing _ Team02

Our intent was to design a modest house for a returning young professional. We wanted to keep the house relatively small in size (approximately 900 sf) as not to overwhelm the landscape or the existing community. We also wanted the house to be flexible enough to inhabit any of the lots designated on the site. The porch, approximately 300 SF, serves as a gathering space for inhabiters and visitors. Only the slab and columns (and possible native shrubbery) denote the given porch space, which is meant to be welcoming and inviting for guests and neighbors.


Use a minimal amount of materials

Use as many locally available materials as possible

Provide a design that would be easy to construct by local contractors and craftsman

Provide ample ventilation through generous use of vent block and open truss systems



~900 SF

2 bedrooms

1 bathroom


There is one main load-bearing wall, into which all the trusses tie. Many of the trusses fall on partition walls within the house. A set of louvres was designed above the load-bearing wall to let in maximum light (especially in the hallway) but minimal to no rain. The floor plan was designed to have an open kitchen/living room/dining room, separate from the private spaces (bedrooms and bathroom). The kitchen was designed to have ample storage, with places designed for locally available or imported appliances. 


Slab- site-cast concrete

Walls- locally crafted concrete block

Windows- locally-crafted vent block

Trusses- wood

Roof- locally available tin or metal

Finish- stucco


Haiti Home Design - Round 1

For today's class, each group was given the task of completing a first iteration of two house designs. Our group focused on designing an expatriate family house and a patriate family house. We split into two smaller groups to discuss our focuses and come up with plans, sections, and elevations. 


A Patriate Family House

In thinking about the qualities that we wanted to focus on, the distinction between public and private spaces and allowing ventilation throughout the house became priorities. We zoned the house into a private band - the bedrooms and bathrooms, a semi-private band - the living, dining, and kitchen areas, and a public band consisting of the porch. We began a study of how to best provide ventilation through the pitch and form of the roof and the areas that might contain vent block on the house. 

In our critique, our professors gave us further suggestions and ideas on how to best form the roof. We will look into changing our design to a butterfly roof in order to promote both ventilation and rainwater collection. We will also further analyse the connection between the living area and the porch. We want to design our house so that we can take advantage of the climate in Haiti. We will also change the current location of the dining area so that it is incorporated into the rest of the living space. These changes will help reinforce our ideas and distinctions between public and private spaces.

ExPatriate Family House

Our team came up with the initial design for this house as part of the schematics that we took down to Haiti to present to Jean and Joy. We modified it based on the feedback that was given while in Haiti. Ventilation, daylight, and ease of construction were the focus for this design.

Moving forward with this design will require a deeper look into the layout of the core spaces. The parti of the house is working well and just needs a little refinement, but the design needs to reflect it more. This will be accomplished by analyzing the adjacency of spaces, working on organization, and refining the interior layout so that it reflects the concept.