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 Site visit (2)


Visit to Fond-des-Blancs, Haiti


Upon arrival to Fond-des-Blancs, after a 4 hour bus ride that covered only about 70 miles, we knew we were in for a culture shock. The comforts of home, like readily available water, electricity, air conditioning, etc, were nowhere to be found. The house we stayed was connected to a generator to provide some of these things, but only for about an hour a day.


Group gathered outside Jean and Joy's guest house (where we stayed). Photo by Cassidy Barnett

During our daily activities, most of which consisted of walking or hiking, we were able to witness the daily life of the Haitian people living in Fond-des-Blancs. Although we were able to witness, it was very hard for us to relate to and understand. For some, much of the day was spent traveling (by foot or donkey) to gather clean water, which often came from nearby streams. In the same streams, sheep, chickens, donkeys, and cattle drank while the women washed their clothing in it.


Local women washing their clothing in the stream. Fond-des-Blancs, Haiti. Photo by Cassidy Barnett

The market was an unforgettable experience, in many aspects. There were no storefronts, credit card machines, or cash registers. Many items were laid out on a cloth on the dirt, while some had wooden tables under a tent. Women worked and sold most of the items at market, while men and women of all ages crowded the market’s main cross-section.


Fond-des-Blancs market. Photo by Zach Smith

We stuck out worse than a sore thumb. Unlike in the city, where aid relief and tourism is common, many people of Fond-des-Blancs rarely see groups of white people.


Some of our group walking through the market. Photo by Zach Smith

Fond-des-Blancs market. Photo by Zach Smith

Motorcycles and cell phones were a phenomena that it still a mystery to us. In a country where people barely have enough money to eat and drink clean water, they have cell phones and many have motorcycles.


Photo by Zach Smith

Many of these cultural aspects are foreign and hard for many of us to understand. As we returned home, we felt as though we had a good understanding of daily life and living quarters of the people of Fond-des-Blancs, Haiti. 


Site Overview

During our site visits, it was immediately apparent to us that the parameters of the site were smaller than we had envisioned. The west side of the site has slopes on each side of the stream much steeper than we originally thought. The vegetation is lush, with many different types of trees and shrubs.

Site boundary at stream crossing. Photo by Cassidy Barnett

A group palm trees at the front of the site creates a natural shaded area.

Palm trees. Photo by Cassidy Barnett

There are also several cleared-out areas, as seen below.

Photo by Zach Smith


LLBen's Reflection of Design & Looking Forward


Crossing the Stream in Fonds des Blancs - Photo: Lauren Metts

m Photo Lauren Metts

After our trip to Haiti, we decided that our initial design needed several alterations to become more successful. Not knowing how much the extreme topography affected the site as a whole, we had designed homes that would no longer be legitimate to build. Also, we needed to take into consideration the noise coming from the generator the people of this community would have access to and how to deafen it. Being a new and improved neighborhood, the design of the kitchen within the homes needed to be altered to uplift and strengthen the notion of a more technologically advanced society.

Several key issues that we saw the need to develop further after our visit are as follows:

  1. The placement of homes within the site and the probable conditions needed to be thoroughly thought through after visiting the site.
  2. The homes needed to have access to a road or path of some kind for (at least) the construction purposes, as well as vehicular access.
  3. The relationship of public verses private spaces needed to be designed systematically to encourage outsiders to want to come to Fonds des Blancs, which included the size of the lot for each unit.
  4. The porch and its placement within the floor plan was a key component in the home. We also learned that the porch should be treated as the most popular room within the dwelling, being the main space inhabited by the owner and his visitors. The idea of a back, more private porch needed to be considered in addition to the front, public porch attached to each unit.
  5. Access and placement of the public spaces, water, a generator, the commercial program, and footbridge needed to be dealt with by thinking as a Haitian would (who would or would not have vehicular access).
  6. The diverse categories of housing for different types of people coming into Fonds des Blancs also needed to be considered as we moved from the site plan to the individual units.

With all of our designs, we had to keep the idea of the next phase of design in mind, Phase III, which included the airstrip adjacent to our site at hand, and would be a possible place to expand our initial design.

 Photo: Lauren Metts

One of the homes found on our hike