The 2010 earthquake in Haiti was a catastrophe born from the failures of architecture. The Earth's sudden release of energy over a large settlement built with inadequate construction methods resulted in a massive collection of collapsed buildings. People had little time or ability to escape and loss of life was extensive.
While first responders and local residents worked for months to simply stabilize the health and safety of people across the country, second responders, including architecture students and faculty, began to study and propose options for long-term reconstruction. Many of these groups had been working in Haiti previously but shifted focus to react to the startling new conditions. Along with the design of new housing and community structures, students and faculty also started to address the systemic building-code problems that precipitated the crisis as well as larger infrastructure and economic issues that will help Haiti sustain itself.
Architecture can be fun and creative, and it also comes with deep responsibility for the health and well-being of people. Take a look at conceptual and real-world projects underway in architecture schools addressing the challenges of post-earthquake Haiti...
Image 1 > MOSAÏQUE DU SEL re-imagines the salt production process, which interfaces land and sea through harnessing Haiti’s abundant resources (sea, sun, wind, and coast), to cultivate salt and agriculture as the catalyst of change. MOSAÏQUE DU SEL not only produces food, but also an improved livelihood for Haitians using modern salt production techniques.
Image 2 & 3 >The Re_Rooting Haiti system is an integrated rural development approach revolving around a shrub-like tree that grows indigenously to Haiti. Jatropha Curcas is a native tree which thrives without irrigation and can produce a valuable chain of commodities for a new green economy. While it is not edible, its seed oil can make soap and fuel for lamps and cooking stoves. Furthermore, the seed hulls can be used to make charcoal briquettes. All can be made easily in local communities, which means jobs, cash incomes and a better life.
Images 4 & 5 > Through protocols and laws set in place, economic opportunities will be established in Port salut, gonaives, and cap hatien to ease the population burden on port-au-prince while also stabilizing the rural community.
Image 6 > This Field Guide is the product of a seven-week, graduate-level Architecture seminar organized to support several emerging partnerships between the University of Minnesota’s College of Design, the Center for Sustainable Building Research, the American Refugee Committee, and Architecture for Humanity.