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 shade (2)


A House for a Moon Dazzler: A Study of Ventilation, Material, and Indoor/Outdoor Relationships

Location: Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Function: Residential
Client: Benjamin Garcia Saze’s mother
Construction Cost: USD 40,000
Main Material: Bamboo
Completed: 2010
Architect: Benjamin Garcia Saxe

The Bamboo House, designed by Benjamin Garcia Saxe, is the perfect example of a natural atmosphere. Concepts behind this design, such as natural ventilation, ample shade, and sustainable materials, are great ideas to think about in our design for Haiti.

The one bedroom home allows the interior and exterior to coexist. The bedroom is located on one end and a kitchen and living space are located on the opposite end. The two spaces are separated by an open courtyard.

Roofs for both main areas are made of bamboo rings covered in burlap that open up underneath the larger tin protective roof. The roofs give the appearance of being detached and raised above the rooms.

The open air construction and the large overhanging tin roofs allow for natural air ventilation but still provide ample shade from the hot sun.


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?