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Following the post written by Nathalie Jolivert reporting – two years after its construction-on the first housing pilot project in the first and largest housing reconstruction and urban rehabilitation project in Haiti,  I will take a step back and give you some info on the pilot’s design and intent.

UNOPS-16.6-new presentation english-housing_Page_39For the sake of time and space, I will primarily focus on the design strategies, and will not focus on the overall housing rand habitat approach, but instead will refer you to these posts so you can read the HOUSING AS PROCESS NOT PRODUCT series to get a better idea of the latter.

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In addition, it is also important to note that this project does not stand alone but is part of integrated interventions- dealing services, infrastructure (mobility, water management, electricity, public lighting, etc.) as well as other housing interventions, and were the result of strong participatory processes with the community.

Now for the particular Morne Hercule Pilot, lets begin:

For the housing in particular, the overall approach focused on incremental housing strategies, allowing families to expand and adapt an initial core as they had the means. The pilot reflects the second and four expansion options allowing families to have a 2 story house or 2 stories with an addition. Although highly subsidized, families paid for approximately  10 % of the housing cost through sweat equity and materials.

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I also want to highlight that there has to be a balance between enabling and providing when dealing with reconstruction. I am a firm believer that owner driven approaches, when accompanied correctly through strong participatory processes, overall area planning strategies for the necessary, services, urban amenities,connectivity, and technical assistance, allow families to manage funds in an efficient manner, and more directly address their needs (not the mention the fact that projects -again when managed correctly- can scale up more quickly ). I also believe one cannot adopt a dogmatic approach, and there must be multiple models considered to address the multiple conditions,circumstances and particularities of the contexts. In the particular case of the 16/6, the Government’s New Housing Unit (UCLBP) was intent in setting new paradigms and standards in the neighborhoods (all informal), showing alternatives to the local communities. As such, multiple strategies were considered and applied: while a core house  was provided, families were required to aid in its construction, and emphasis was placed on training and capacity building to support local masons (looking at the replicability and allowing the knowledge to stay in the neighborhoods as well), and provide a basic accompaniment for families (for their contribution and future expansion of the home).

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Passive design strategies were prioritized in order to allow the maximum habitability while optimizing natural resources. These strategies were studied and adapted at the individual scale of the building as well as the overall site/collective scale. As such, cross ventilation, an optimization of day light while providing the necessary shading, and rain water harvesting were taken into account.

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For the initial selection of sites, a risk mapping was conducted in each neighborhood in order to identify areas of high risk and areas where housing could be rebuilt. Red areas – mostly bordering the ravines- indicate high risk zones where families would have to be displaced and relocated. Taking a step back , I do have to point out that many of the reconstruction projects did not account for funding or alternatives in terms of relocation, which is an issue as families will return and squat in the same or similar location if not presented with an alternative… UNOPS-16.6-new presentation english-housing_Page_42

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for Morne Hercule’s first pilot, the site is located in a very steep terrain, bordered by the main vehicular entrance (top of the site) and on the bottom by the main pedestrian path. Though very challenging for construction, the site was selected in an area with good access  in order to tackle many of the physical challenges we would face in the neighborhood.

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There were over 15 houses and families living in the site before the earthquake hit. The image above taken from the northeaster corner of the site reflects the terrible damage. UNOPS-16.6-new presentation english-housing_Page_43

Trying to optimize the existing topography, terracing was creating using the existing gradient. As the terrain was so steep, in order to reduce costs while optimizing the structures, retaining walls served as the walls for the first floor of the houses. Moreover, these retaining wall made an “L” and also anchored back to become the foundation of the housing behind.

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Shared access ways were created in order to allow for semi-private/semi-public spaces in between the houses.

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Different blocks of housing were created, each sharing common walls and semi-private spaces. For the collective scape,  all interstitial spaces were utilized to enhance mobility, water management, public lighting, and when possible hybridize with public space. In the image below, stairs, drainage and bleachers  form a small amphitheater at the entrance of the pilot site.

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Circulation Diagram

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Open and shared spaces diagram

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Gradation from public to private- in the site and housing

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Shared septic tanks amongst the blocks (3 to 4 families) and located in the semi-public space between houses.

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Water drainage plan- linked to circulation and access; including a potable water access point at the bottom of the site. Unfortunately, landscape interventions were not used in a strategic manner in order to allow more permeability and aid in the shading and water management of the site overall…something, as Nathalie showed in her post, residents began to add themselves (at least in terms of greening)

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Following are some images showing the evolution of the construction: UNOPS-16.6-new presentation english-housing_Page_54UNOPS-16.6-new presentation english-housing_Page_55UNOPS-16.6-new presentation english-housing_Page_56

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There is much more to comment on but I will leave the post there for now, hoping it gave you a good glimpse at the intent and design of the pilot.

As a closing remark, I will have to write a post on the tenure aspects as this pilot presented an incredibly interesting alternative, aiming to provide a right of occupation for the residents and establishing a sort of cooperative model working at the scale of the block and overall “complex.” To be continued.

**Presentation pages were taken from “Logement Evolutif”, UNOPS for the UCLBP, 2012. Photos and diagrams credits also go to the UNOPS design team in Haiti, Claude Andre Nadon, Adriana Navarro-Sertich, and the UCLBP.

2 thoughts on “Revisiting Housing pilots [Haiti], part 2>> initial design + intent

  1. I’ll echo Pierre-Yves Jousseaume’s previous comment that this was an outstanding team to work with and an inspiring project to be involved with.

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