One year ago, a catastrophic earthquake tore through Haiti killing 200,000 people. Today, some progress has been made to return to normality but a Goliath mountain of rubble that was once Port au Prince still must be cleared and housing built for the vast population living in ruins and tents.
Toward that end, ARCHIVE, Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments, has announced the winners of a housing competition and will build five houses that promote healthy living in Haiti this year. Winners from around the world paid special attention to limit the transmission of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, the leading deadly diseases in the country.
It sounds like a summer blockbuster, but it’s actually one of the most important symposia this year. Imminent Danger: Earthquake Disaster and Risk Reduction In U.S. Cities. It’s being held on December 1 at UCLA, and features engineers, physicists, geologists, architects, and public officials getting together to discuss how to best prepare for the inevitable ground shaking disasters that will hit our cities in the near future. Thanks (unfortunately) to recent quakes in Haiti, Chile, and China, the group has a lot of new input to discuss. “Every time there’s a large seismic event we learn more,” said Gensler principal Rob Jernigan, who is one of the event participants. He adds that the conference is also a way for architects, engineers and other experts to come up with innovative earthquake-proof buildings that don’t look like large bunkers: “We have to design for lateral movements without making giant, clumsy joints. We can develop a level of refinement,” he said.
More than six months after January’s catastrophic earthquake, Haiti’s need for new infrastructure remains an urgent challenge for the many nonprofit groups seeking to rebuild nearly 300,000 structures across the country. Among them is Plan International, a children’s development organization that has worked in Haiti since 1973. Having mobilized in the wake of the earthquake to build transitional schools, among other reconstruction projects, this summer Plan completed a cluster of six classrooms in Jacmel, in the country’s southeastern region, as the first step toward an ambitious goal of building 80 classrooms throughout Haiti by September. Read More
On Friday, at Rebuilding a Sustainable Haiti—a public symposium on planning strategies for the country’s future hosted by New York’s Institute for Urban Design—a common sentiment united nearly all of the panelists onstage, as well as those seated in Cooper Union’s packed Rose Auditorium: the scale of destruction from the January earthquake demands a transformation, and not merely a replication, of Haiti’s built environment. “Perhaps a better title for the symposium is ‘Building a Sustainable Haiti,’” Garry Pierre-Pierre, editor and founder of The Haitian Times, said in his opening remarks, which provided a background of Haitian politics from 1986 to the present and stressed the corrupt nature of the state. Read More
There’s never been a Pecha Kucha in Port-au-Prince before. But on February 20, some 280 cities across the globe that have hosted the 20-seconds-per-20-slides architecture presentation cum party will join together to try and raise $1 million for Architecture for Humanity’s relief efforts in Haiti. As the Pecha Kucha people put it on their site, it only took a matter of seconds for hundreds of thousands of lives to be forever changed. Hopefully, 200,000 design-savy, humanitarian-minded types will get together for a few more seconds in a week-and-a-half and start to put things back in order. Read More
Engineering News Record brings us the news that the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince is one of the few major buildings to survive the January 12th earthquake with only minor damage. According to the report, the facility remained functional during and after the earthquake: the electricity stayed on, communications systems continued to function, and water and air kept operating. As a result the building has become an important center for relief efforts. The reason that the 134,000-square-foot structure escaped the general devastation seems to be that it was built recently in accordance with the International Building Code and the State Department’s Overseas Building Operations requirements. The building was constructed between 2005 and 2008 as a design-build project by New York City-based Fluor Corp, was bolstered by reinforced concrete shear walls, and had mechanical and electrical systems built to withstand seismic events.
Bay Area architect Joseph Bellomo was putting the finishing touches on one of his side projects, a modular studio for a client in Hawaii, when he heard about the earthquake. Because of the nature of the structure, which had been designed specifically for a tropical climate, he couldn’t help but think that it might be a good option for those made homeless by the devastation. Read More