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. 


U-Haul-spital Medical Trailer

Unpacking Trailer Process When designing a mobile medical unit for Haiti, Alyssa Nealon & myself knew it had to be compact and easy to understand. We faced many challenges with materials, the terrain, and the ease of setup. In the end we designed an offroading trailer that housed 7 medical carts, loaded with supplies, and 6 tents with mosquito netting. We made the trailer blue and white to mimic the United Nations color scheme, which played a positive role in the Haitians lives. The design offers a multitude of setup options to allow for multiple scenarios, whether it is de to the amount of workers or difficulty of the terrain. Modularity was a driving force in this design. But, designing modularity in a simple way, so that the Haitians could understand it easily was a real challenge!

Medical Cart Design

The Medical Carts serve a vital role in the U-Haul-spitals goals. It needed to serve as many purposes as possible in a very small footprint. The 2'W x 2'L x 3'H cart has 6 drawers, all of which are color coded for quick and easy location of items. The colors represent:

Gray- Evaluate

Blue- Administer

Green- Prescribe

Yellow- Emergency

Orange- Medicate

Each of the colored drawers house all of the supplies needed to do that particular task. The cart is also equipt with a pull out dictation tray for the nurse to use as a writing surface, a removable sharps container located on the back, heavy duty wheels on the back and adjustable feet on the front, 2 cushioned stools on top, and a locking mecanism on the side to be able to connect multiple carts together in case of the need for a gurney. When not being used as a gurney the 2 cushions, located on top, can be removed and unfold into two 1' x 2' stools for the nurse and the patient to sit on. The stools are upholstered with marine grade vinyl, similar to what is used on boats, so that it may be able to be cleaned easily.

Perspective view of U-Haul-spital in use

A few things critiques that were mentioned in the review were:


the lack of thought on how the trailer connected with a mule

who owned and opperated the trailers before, during and after use

who was in charge of restocking the trailers after inital use


the color coding system of the carts

the amount of thought and research that went into the dispursing of the units

the modularity of the design


Kabwet Clinic

The Kabwet Clinic's priority is to bring multiple modes of medical care to the Haitian population. When given the criteria of this project, our team's initial response was to design a system that would be suitable for a variety of terrain, have maximum functionality, and contain components that could eventually be replaced by local materials.

Due to the mountainous terrain in Haiti, it was necessary for our mobile medical unit to be able to travel through very harsh terrain. Because of this, we decided to incorporate the technology of the Tweel, or a foam tire. Because this tire does not contain air, it cannot be punctured and therefore, allows it to travel through a variety of conditions.

The functionality of the Kabwet Clinic is a very important concept to the project. The clinic addresses three aspects of care which are prevention, response, and maintenance. The clinic addresses prevention through a series of graphic directions that attempts to teach the people of Haiti basic first aid care, thus preventing more serious conditions resulting from minor injury. The medical pack and tent allow the cart to transform into a mobile clinic which is efficient for response in the event of disaster or emergency. The maintenance aspect of the design is carried out through a break-away pack which gives a single person the ability to travel to areas alone and treat minor injuries and illnesses.

Finally, one of the most important concepts of the Kabwet Clinic is its ability to transform over time. Fabricated materials, such as plastic, are not easily manufactured in Haiti and can be very expensive. It was our intent to design a modular system that allows the clinic to evolve over time by using local materials to construct the components, and thus becoming embedded into the Haitian society.


detachApack: A Versatile Medical Clinic System


Duffel Bag and Frame/Lounge components of detachApack

DetachApack is a system designed to allow medical personnel to reach their set destination whether it be across difficult terrain, deep rivers, or other obstacles. These packs allow clinics to set up at the furthest of villages even when trucks cannot drive there. If the backpacks are stored on the trucks, then at any point when driving becomes too difficult, each team member can grab a backpack and they can finish the remainder of the distance on foot.

Zip-off detachable ends and compartments for organization of supplies

Each backpack consists of a pack frame and a duffel bag. The pack frame is multifunctional. Not only is it used to add comfort and help support the pack while hiking, but it also converts into a lounge for the patients to lie on while being examined, a chair for the medical staff, and even a stretcher in case of a critical needs patient. The duffel bag consists of three color coded pieces. The charcoal pieces on the end can be zipped off and used in the exam areas by the doctors and nurses. The blue center piece is then used in the pharmacy area. All pieces have organizational dividers so that all supplies are kept in place throughout the hike and are easy to find once at the clinic destination.

Frame/Lounge can also be used as a stretcher in the event of an emergency

The final review was a very helpful critique. We discussed the ways in which the packs could be filled with the exact same supplies or labeled when they differ. I think that it would be most beneficial if each backpack’s medical (charcoal-colored) bags were the same and each pack’s pharmaceutical (blue-colored) bag were different. Each packs medical compartments need to be the same so that each doctor and nurse can have every supply they need at hand and not go search around for supplies in others’ bags. Each pharmaceutical bag needs to be different, perhaps a different category of medication. Therefore when setting up the pharmacy area, the bags can be arranged in a helpful order by prescription type.

PDF of detachApack presentation


Tree Clinic Medicine Mobile Unit

Poverty and the lack of basic life skills rather than microbes and parasites are the primary catalysts for the spread of infection and disease.  Cuts, sores, and open wounds are left untreated and exposed to filth and flies.  Among the Haitian people, inadequate sanitation, clean water, good hygiene, and basic first aid knowledge contributes to their suffering and death.

Tree Clinic Medicine is addressing these inequities.  The key component to Tree Clinic Medicine's realization is the medical packs.  Light-weight, durable, and compact in size, the medical packs permit medical volunteers access to remote villages in Haiti with essential medical supplies; and basic first aid and nutritional education.

Donkeys with medical packs on the move.

Volunteer medical teams hike to remote village with donkeys to carry their medical supplies.  Upon arrival the team tethers a rope between trees, remove the medical packs from their water proof sacks, and hang the packs from the tethered rope.  The trees also provide shade for the staff and patients.  In case of rain, a tap can be hung across the tethered rope and tied off at the corners.

Demonstration of set up

The manufacture of the packs could be an added source of income in Haiti. Donations could cover materials, labor, and eliminate the expense of shipping. On the back of each pack, local visual art would depict proper wound care and hygiene, facilitating volunteers with the language barrier and illiteracy. Donkeys and their owners (handlers) could be hired to transport supplies and teams, while helping provide a much needed service to their people.

Perspective of Tree Clinic Medicine

In critiquing this project, I should have used benches instead of the three legged stools.  Folding benches would have been more practical, when pulled together they could have provided a flat surface for patients to lie on for medical exams.   Folding benches could also provide additional seating for people waiting.

The area was too open.  If I had designed the medical packs to zip together, this would have enclosed the space created more privacy and providing a more secure area for the medical supplies.  I should have investigated colors more.  My medical pack colors should have been green and white; colors associated with Haitian hospitals.

I thought that having the medical supplies and medicines together would be more convenient for the medical staff but I later found out that having the supplies and medicines together would create too much congestion in one area.  They needed to be separated.




The Kabwet Clinic

The Kabwet Clinic helps to both bring medical aid to Haitians in need that may not otherwise be able to travel to or afford a visit to a hospital.  It combines modular, secure storage units with a durable, versatile cart to bring supplies and opportunities to the more remote, rural settings of Haiti.  The cart was designed to travel over most terrains, to be easily repaired with the replacement of readily available parts (i.e. used car tires, scrap wood/metal), and to transform from a vehicle to a work surface.  

Transformation of Cart into Table


















 The cart would be stocked and distributed from hospitals around the country.  They can be loaded onto a truck, towed by motor vehicle, donkey, or pushed by person.  This style of pushed cart is often used in Haiti, but with more found materials and handmade construction.  This cart could be manufactured in the US, but the use of simple construction techniques would allow for more carts to be built in Haiti with whatever material is available.  

Cart functioning as a work surface

The storage containers were designed for multi-functionality in that they are water-tight containers, can be used for seating or work surfaces, and include a detachable connection that allows for the use of other found containers with the entire unit.  A critique given about the containers was that they would initially have to be fabricated in the US, an unlikely and difficult solution to the problem at hand.  With the design of a specific connection detail, however, virtually any container could be used in this mobile clinic system.  

Connection Detail














One of the features of the Kabwet Clinic is the break-away medical kit.  In a response to an emergency, it would be used, once the cart had arrived to a village and set up camp, to venture into the more remote locations to address any problems found.  The break-away kit would also be used to travel to rural homes and help educate citizens on proper first aid.  One of the most frequent causes of serious injury or infection is the mistreatment or neglect to care for minor injuries when they first happen.  The break-away kit includes graphic directions to address the language barrier, and to help educated Haitians on proper first aid techniques.  

The Break-Away Kit

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