Leonel Ponce

ARCHIVE Institute's Health and Housing For Haiti Winners are Clean, Green, Off-Grid Homes

by , 06/17/11

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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.

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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.”

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