Housing For Haiti: Bamboo, Recycled Materials And A Global Response Making A Difference!

by Stacey Irwin on January 12, 2011 · 0 comments

in Bamboo's Worldwide Impact

On the anniversary of the Haiti earthquake which devastated tens of thousands of lives, there is still much to do to help the recovering country.  Cholera outbreaks remain common, violence spreads through the tent cities and people are still struggling to return to jobs, schools and a semblance of normal life.  Housing remains a key issue.  While some were able to take advantage of emergency housing, many are still living in the tent cities with little privacy, little security and little defense against disease.  Permanent housing is necessary to help Haiti recover from this earthquake.

The Haiti Housing Collaborative, mobilized by the AIA NY Global Dialouges Committee, is composed of NYC-based architects and planners who are working together with the goal to rebuild Haiti through a call for collaborative housing designs.  12 design finalists will be narrowed down to 6 this evening at a fundraiser in New York City.  The designs represent architects across the globe and are innovative in their approach to rebuilding this nation.

Many of the design elements include:

Bamboo – With so much of Haiti’s inland populated with bamboo that has better seismic behavior, designs take advantage of the rich natural resource to build bamboo wall panels and roofs.  And because bamboo is strong but very light-weight, the housing itself can be easily moved or rearranged to suit the owner’s needs. 

Transitional housing – Many of the designs address the immediate need for housing by building a base first and then adding rooms as needed.  One design from Spain allows for modules that are easily added as construction continues. 

Use of natural resources and labor – Some of the designs address the need for jobs as well as shelter and allow for local construction of compressed earth blocks and traditional woven panels.  One design even encourages the use of local art to help add to the aesthetic element of the home and to encourage pride in the house itself.

Effective use of the elements – Many of the designs also incorporate a variety of ways to make the elements work for the homeowner.  These include rainwater collection, greywater recycling systems, communal composting, bio-waste use, solar panels and wind turbines.

Recycled materials – In the quest for sustainability, many of these designs embrace the use of recycled materials ranging from cement blocks and rubble from the earthquake to plastic water bottles to shipping pallets that bring relief supplies into the country.  One design, called freehab, takes it one step further and proposes construction sites be located near local landfills to make salvaging easier.

When asked why a private organization would take on such a public need, Chair of the Global Dialouges committee simply responded, “The world is one and we are its citizen.”

With such a compassionate goal, such innovative techniques and a global response, the Haiti Housing Collaborative is set to revolutionize the response to housing needs in the struggling nation

Continue to visit Green Earth News for a more in-depth look at the six finalists of the Haiti Housing Collaborative!

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