Last week the winners, finalists, and other entries for ARCHIVE Institute's Kay e Santé Nan Ayiti (Health and Housing in Haiti) competition were officially unveiled in New York City's West Village, and all proceeds from the exhibit will help pay for the construction of 5 designs. The houses, part of an open design competition last year, emphasize healthy transitional living for HIV and Tuberculosis outpatients from Fondation Esther Boucicault-Stanislas (FEBS), a non-profit that provides health care, counseling, and job training for HIV-positive persons in St. Marc, Haiti. The international competition brought together architects, engineers, students, health professionals, and sustainability consultants to create inexpensive solutions to the housing shortage affecting this population. Given the rural setting and low budget, green off-the-grid designs emerged as the most appropriate to fulfill ARCHIVE's mission of health-oriented architecture. All five winning designs will be constructed in phase I of the project, with the first home breaking ground today, June 17th - read on for a rundown of the winning designs!
The competition’s grand prize winner is Breathe House by Initiative Recover, a collaboration between a University of Virginia architecture professor, his students, and a team of medical professionals, engineers, and architects. Natural light and ventilation, clean water, renewable energy, and a mix of passive environmental systems with modest active ventilation are the concepts that unify the team’s intentions into a simple, easy-to-build healthy home. Fresh air exchanges are key in preventing viral transmission between communicable disease patients — the Breathe House’s series of clerestory windows provides flexible air flow. Simplicity of construction is enhanced with vernacular materials and a “user’s guide” to construction, a useful tool for FEBS’s work training program. By concentrating on passive and active ventilation systems and on simple construction techniques that utilize local materials, the Breathe House is not just one healthy home, but a prototype for an improved building culture and building stock in the St. Marc area, and Haiti.
Second place in the competition was awarded to Maison Canopy, by architects Lilian and Brook Sherrard. An open plan creates a protected yet open place to engage new neighbors and build new friendships. Maison Canopy is a low-tech, user-friendly design that utilizes familiar building technologies. To account for health issues, cross ventilation is encourage by a central breezeway, large windows provide plenty of fresh air, and cooking and communal areas are separated. Rainwater harvesting, sanitation and waste management systems can be adapted to the evolving, specific needs of residents. The Florida team’s experience with Caribbean climate and culture informed many of their design decisions; “our design was conceived in light of the limited resources in Haiti and the reality of living on a tropical island.”
Shutter Dwelling, the third-place entry by an Italian design team, uses varying levels of enclosure to manipulate air flow and sunlight for residents with different health needs. Rooms open out onto small terraces through an opening modulated by sliding wooden doors, and an exterior wooden shutter layer controls air flow to limit pathogen transmission. An airspace under the roof provides cross ventilation, and a thin stream of air between roofing layers enhances cooling via microventilation. The cladding also filters sunlight, letting helpful UV radiation into the space to kill Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, the cause of TB infections. Bedrooms and bathrooms are separated from other spaces to limit mixing of infected and clean airflows, emphasizing the kitchen as a social space that evokes traditional lakou courtyards. Shutter Dwelling blends Haitian culture and building practices with high performance elements (like steel reinforcement that withstand hurricane winds) into a familiar, durable and healthy home.
An honorable mention was awarded to the colorful Bois L’Etat – The Architecture and Ecology of Healing, by DXA Studio. Through the extensive use of sustainable building systems, Bois L’Etat hopes to bring a dignified, off-the-grid living solution to FEBS patients. Air circulates in many paths to ensure good air quality: cross ventilation passes under the butterfly roof, stack ventilation rises through the bamboo truss, and trickle ventilation through crevices in the floor. Electrical systems include solar panels and a UV germicidal irradiation unit to kill airborne TB pathogens. Water systems are based on a collection gutter at the roof spine and a 1200 gallon cistern with a rapid sand filter. A UV purification system provides primary storage, and an exterior overflow cistern irrigates kitchen gardens. Concentrating on cohesive building systems, Bois L’Etat elevates the off-the-grid living experience with a comfortable and dignified home that helps patients transition successfully into society.
Cycle House, by Dominican designers from 19º Estudio Sostenible, received a special merit award for its attention to local culture and energy system innovations. This house revolves around the idea of open and closed spaces that promote and facilitate a healthy lifestyle. Interstitial spaces become outdoor herb gardens for the preparation of traditional medicines. The most interesting feature of Cycle House, however, are two bicycle powered generators located within an “exercise room,” where residents can improve their health while powering their home. The energy created from an hour’s ride can power a 13W bulb for 2-4 hours, providing necessary illumination for nighttime activities. The bicycles also serve as an agent in the economic reintegration of patients, functioning as a produce transportation system or bike taxi service.
In conjunction with these buildings, access roads from St. Marc and to each home are under construction; personal and community gardens will be planted thereafter. The next steps for the project include community services such as an orphanage, a professional school, a health clinic, and agricultural programs, as well as 13 additional houses. ARCHIVE Institute hopes that a successful off-the-grid, self-sustaining village can take away the stigmas faced daily by HIV and tuberculosis patients in Haiti, and promote health as a crucial component of sustainable architecture.