Many Haitians are still trying to rebuild their lives seven years after a powerful earthquake devastated much of the country. Thankfully, organizations like the Heliotrope Foundation are collaborating with local communities build sustainable homes that are designed to be resilient against future natural disasters. The foundation’s Konbit Shelter team has just finished work on House Louisana, a multi-family home built by locals with a variety of locally-sourced, sustainable materials.
Located in the community of Cormiers, House Louisana was built in collaboration with the local community, along with Heliotrope Foundation and Oficina Design. The home was built for Mama Louisana and her extended family, who lost everything in the deadly 2012 earthquake. The family has been living in a temporary shelter every since.
In order to rebuild a space secure enough for her and her extended family, the design team chose to go with locally-sourced materials with strong, resilient qualities. Local guadua bamboo was the main building material, and was used in the structure’s supports and roof. Earth and natural fibers were used to create the walls, implementing the local practice of “bahareque” or constructing with natural mud or earth.
The design aesthetic was cultivated in accordance with the local Haitian vernacular, including a double-pitched roof, open-air front porch, and plenty of outdoor space surrounding the home for socializing. On the interior, a central patio is surrounded by the living room, bedrooms and a kitchen. Since there is no electricity, windows and open cutouts were placed around the home for optimal natural light and air circulation. The high, inverted ceiling also aids in air circulation.
On the exterior, the roof’s eaves jut out over the home considerably in order to distribute rain away from the main living area and porch during tropical rain storms. The low-tech, but efficient features used in the project were taught to the crew of local builders who helped with the project so they can be implemented in future sustainable constructions in the area.
The home was built in just four months and was funded by a Kickstarter campaign.
Images via Oficina Design