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 Rainwater Collection (3)


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.


















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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?



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.