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. 

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Entries in ventilation (8)


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


A Semester's Journey

This semester was a great experience for all of us. The trip to Haiti, of course, was an immense eye opener.  We were able to see, for ourselves, the Haitian culture, beautiful landscape, and the effects of natural disaster. The class challenged us in new ways, brought us together as classmates and teams, and allowed us to have a different sense of pride in our work.  


The challenges presented were unlike anything in previous studios. We had a very limited material palette to work with, but we strived to use materials in new and innovative ways, such as wicker doors and iron kitchen cabinet doors.  Another challenge we worked hard to overcome was the provision of ventilation and lighting.  To minimize the usage of electricity, we established designs that would allow for passive cross ventilation and, in some areas, stack ventilation.  In addition, the strategic placement of windows, made of vent block and wicker, gives the house passive lighting.


Normally our studio projects are completed individually.  This was probably everyone’s first experience working in a group setting.  It was challenging at times, agreeing and dividing up the work evenly, but it gave us a sense of what it will be like to work in a firm.  It also seemed to bring us closer together, working with Interior Design students and Graduate students.


The end result, we feel, gives us a different sense of pride than our normal final projects.  This one is a gift to other people to enrich the lives of those who need it most.  We also feel accomplished, designing a house that will suit Haiti very well, as far as function and aesthetics.  To see the houses built and possibly meet those living in them would give a sense of accomplishment like no other.


Expatriate Family House



1,400 square feet

3 bedroom

2 full bath


Design Goals

- allow ventilation in all rooms

- give added ventilation in bathrooms

- design a glorified porch space for public gathering

- create a separation between the master bedroom and the two guest bedrooms

- connect the indoors and outdoors

 Due to the importance of social interaction in Haitian culture, a returning expatriate would want to come back to a home that will help enable them to fit in with the culture once again.

Because the porch is often the only space that visitors are invited to gather on, the porch has gained the status of an individual room in Haitian culture. In the expatriate house, the U-shaped courtyard becomes a glorified porch that allows plenty of space for guests to gather.

Hierarchy is given to the main living space with tall gabled trusses punctuating the interior of the space. Doors on either side of the living space open to the outdoors, connecting the interior living space with nature and adding a connection between the occupants inside with the occupants outside.

The master bedroom is separated from the other bedrooms to create a sense of privacy. Each bedroom is located on a corner of the house to ensure cross ventilation will cool the rooms throughout the day. The two restrooms extend outward on either side of the house in order to enhance ventilation within each bathroom.


Lastly, we added a few decorative touches that we felt would enhance the overall feel of a Haitian house and create more business for the locals in Haiti. Ironwork is used instead of cabinet doors in the kitchen. Woven wood is used on the exterior doors to create a translucent barrier that allows light to flow into the living room. Also, we have suggested that the wood trusses on the interior be colored so the vibrant color on the exterior is brought into the house.


Teacher Roommate House: Final Proposal


  • 4 Bedrooms
  • 2 Full bathrooms
  • 2043 sq. ft. (nominal)
  • 1820 sq. ft. (habitable)

Design Goals:

  • Simple symmetrical plan
  • Large shared living space that opens to the outside
  • Use materials found or produced locally in Haiti
  • Passive ventilation for all rooms
  • Apartment layout

The final design of the Teacher Roommate House is designed to demand interaction.  The occupants for this house are envisioned as being teachers that work at the (School) up the road.

The layout of the floor plan mimics a dormitory style plan where the bedrooms surround a large open living space.  Included in this living space are the kitchen, dining and gathering spaces. Wicker panels built into the exterior walls of the living space open up to covered porches giving the space a public feel. Oftentimes in Haiti, visitors are only invited onto the porch and not into the houses.


Each end of the house is a two-bedroom module able to sleep up to four people. Bathrooms and storage spaces serve as buffer areas between the two bedrooms and the bathrooms are extruded to allow.  Vent block windows in all the rooms allow cross ventilation of all spaces.

The roofing design on the house gives hierarchy to the spaces.  The largest hip roof is over the primary living space, while smaller hip roofs are over the secondary bedroom spaces.  A flat roof covers the tertiary restroom and circulation spaces.

 The exterior design of the house has a rhythm to it.  The bedrooms and living space each have exterior walls that extend up past the ceiling line of the house.  Along the exterior there is a horizontal shading plane that helps with sun shading on the exterior of the house.  Pilasters along the exterior walls assist in holding up the cantilevered roof as well as add a visual sense of rhythm.


Lastly, the house was designed to be a representation of its occupants.   Its formal appearance shows strength with a hint of monumentality.  This aspect was included in the design to give importance to the teachers and make them important in society.


House for Expatriate Retiree

Our team designed a house for expatriate couple returning to Haiti for retirement. Our main concept was to create a tranquil home to live in while implementing diffused lighting, ventilation and local materials. Our concept directly influenced our decision of where to build the house on the site. We chose to place it on a lot on the west side of the site overlooking the river and surrounded by forest. 

We seperated the public and private space of the house and kept a strong connection to the porches of the house. We focused on the connection between the interior and exterior of the house. Since Haitians spend most of their time outdoors we tried to find ways to bring nature inside. The main living area of the house is closed off by a local bamboo system that allows views to the outside as well as light and ventilation throughout. We also used ventblock and louvered windows to increase good ventilation in the house. Our design also features a simple rainwater collection system for the residents use.