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

search haiti_utk
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 natural ventilation (4)


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


Teacher Roommate Housing Design Proposal

When designing the roommate house, our team thought about how the layout of the house will affect the interaction among the roommates.  The rooms of the house are separated by the living space with a porch that extends out the front of the space.  We wanted to create a house plane that resembles the layout of an apartment.  With two rooms set to each side of the house, sharing a common bathroom and storage area.  The house includes a large covered porch that will face the pedestrian walkway through the center of the development.  


The kitchen is placed at the front of the house next to the porch, so that you can cook and look outside the front of the house to say hello to anyone walking by.  Each room includes many vent block windows to allow natural ventilation and the possibility of cross ventilation.  Additionally, the bathrooms are pulled from the main form to allow a natural breeze to flow through the bathroom.



Housing Design Proposal

Expatriate Housing Programming 

Our team signed up to work on the expatriate housing programming.  We used two methods of diagramming to portray our interpretation of program relations.  The first was a more simple, quick look at what spaces are related, a "bubble" diagram.  The connections made could either be because the spaces should be attached for circulation, or more functional aspects like sharing a plumbing wall.

The second diagram, an Adjacency Matrix, is a much more in depth look into how each program is related to every other space in the house.  We decided to created four categories to help us define these relations.  Adjacent, or primary the primary connection, means that the spaces should be attached for convenience or functional purposes.  Nearby is a secondary connection, and not adjacent means that the spaces should not or would not be near each other in the house for privacy reasons or for front/back placement within the house. Not related are simply spaces that do not have an important correlation.


Expatriate House Design Scheme

After defining these adjacencies we diagrammed a layout for how we could achieve everything on our list, as well as focusing on passive ventilation and creating a private courtyard.


When designing this house, our team thought about the site plan and about the multiple driveways and pedestrian paths that border many of the lots. In thinking about an expatriate coming back to Haiti after living in the US for a while, we thought they might have grown accustomed to the American standard of a private backyard.  So, we wanted to create a house plan that would give them a sense of privacy with a courtyard in the back of the house.  If they want to lay down outside and read a book and not feel like everyone can see them, or even if they want to open up all the doors to the courtyard and truly blur the definition between interior and exterior, then they can do so without everyone being able to see inside.

Another aspect of this courtyard, and "H" shape plan arrangement is that it helps to promote passive ventilation, a leading factor in our house design.  With each branch of this house being single loaded, cross ventilation is easily achieved.  The bathrooms are pulled from the main form to obtain cross ventilation, as apposed to only having one window in the bathroom wall and having more stagnant air.  Also when designing the roof plan and gables, we added a clerestory for stack ventilation. 



Visiting Haiti: Changing Perceptions

I believe that we each had our own expectations for what Haiti would be like, and yet each of us were equally amazed when we arrived.  It is so cliché to say that you have to experience something yourself to fully understand it, but it is so true.  I thought I was prepared to see the poverty, trash, and prejudice, and in a sense I was, but it still does not take away from the shock of experiencing it for ones self.  Experiencing Haiti helped us better understand their way of life and current living traditions and assisted us in defining some key issues that our design must meet.


Before heading to Haiti we were told about the local impulse to gather in the shade. I thought that because of our habit to seek the sun we might enjoy meeting in the sunshine. In all actuality, after hiking the mountainous, dry terrain our group was hot and tired. We all crowded under porches and tree canopies to cool off as much as possible. Experiencing this first hand has given us the understanding of the importance of designing plenty of shaded areas: porches, pavilions, and tree covered zones.


Another key issue to consider is the need for passive ventilation. The traditional houses use vent blocks in the walls to allow breezes to pass through the interior.  Since there will not be any air conditioning this is a necessity.  Whether our design accommodates CMU walls and vent blocks or openings in the roof for a stack effect, the ventilation issue needs to be a major priority.


While we were in Haiti we were constantly running out of water.  When we ran our of drinking water, someone would have to go all the way to the spring, fill our cooler, and bring it back to the house for us to fill our water bottles.  When we ran out of grey water we would have to wait to flush the toilets until absolutely necessary.  This was a new experience for most of us, because we have never had to go without or ration water.  We are just so blessed in our state of living.  So, something that will be considered in the design of this community is a more convenient and available water system.  We believe that each structure should have rain water collection, and a well with a hand pump should be made available for when the generator is not working properly.

These issues were brought to our attention through a first hand experience in Haiti.  Perhaps that will help engrain the importance of these matters. We would not want to live in a condition without shade, natural ventilation, and easy access to water, so why would we design that for someone else?