Bamboo Lakou, Haiti, 2013

The interior of the Lakou performs as a social, commercial and spaced for shared utility.

The interior of the Lakou performs as a social, commercial and spaced for shared utility.

At the local time of 16:53 on 12th January 2010 an earthquake of 7.0 hit one of the most densely populated suburbs of Haiti’s capital, Port au Prince. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake. 250,000 residences, 30,000 commercial buildings collapsed, a million people homeless and 316,000 people dead. One month later an earthquake 500 times more powerful, hit central Chile resulting in the deaths of 525. This was a disaster of Haiti’s lack of light weight building materials, working practices, and construction, not nature.

The relative magnitude and death-toll was disproportionate to other more powerful earthquakes.

The relative magnitude and death-toll was disproportionate to other more powerful earthquakes.

Deforestation has seen a massive rural exodus with now 1/3 of the population resident in the capital, Port au Prince. This rural exodus was exacerbated by the centralised nature of the aid effort after the 2010 quake.

Deforestation has seen a massive rural exodus with now 1/3 of the population resident in the capital, Port au Prince. This rural exodus was exacerbated by the centralised nature of the aid effort after the 2010 quake.

The reforested are is occupied based on the 5 year growth cycle of bamboo.

The reforested are is occupied based on the 5 year growth cycle of bamboo.

 

Set in the context of Haiti, a country with massive deforestation and threatened by earthquakes, only heavy concrete and cement are the building materials of choice. As an integral part of a wider reforestation strategy, this project merges a sustainable bamboo infrastructure along with the vernacular ‘Lakou’ communal courtyard typology. This aims to encourage the physical use of bamboo in the Haitian construction sector. The material properties of bamboo provide design opportunities to provide resilience to hurricanes and earthquakes, and affords an assembly logic which intends to communicate a parallel understanding of bamboo’s application beyond the building site. This rematerialisation of a construction industry and subsequent demand, aims to engender bamboo growth in Haiti, a material with wider ecological benefits.

The technical strategy of the Bamboo Lakou providing both resilience to natural threat, but a means to disseminate bamboo construction knowledge.

The technical strategy of the Bamboo Lakou providing both resilience to natural threat, but a means to disseminate bamboo construction knowledge.

The design of the Lakou begins with a occupational strategy and then is designed to provide a shaded courtyard, a seismic column organisation and a hurricane resilient facade.

The design of the Lakou begins with a occupational strategy and then is designed to provide a shaded courtyard, a seismic column organisation and a hurricane resilient facade.

The elongated facade provides space for bamboo and timber workshops.

The elongated facade provides space for bamboo and timber workshops.

The Lakou's resilience to a hurricane.

The Lakou’s resilience to a hurricane.

The Lakou Section

The Lakou Section

The assembly logic is broken into 3 areas. Columns, the facade frame and the facade panels. Each using the characteristics of 5, 4 and 3 year old bamboo respectively.

The assembly logic is broken into 3 areas. Columns, the facade frame and the facade panels. Each using the characteristics of 5, 4 and 3 year old bamboo respectively.

The construction sequence of the Lakou.

The construction sequence of the Lakou.

The assembly logic is presented in a vernacular image heavy manner.

The assembly logic is presented in a vernacular image heavy manner.

A one hectare sample showing the Lakou's relationship to neighbouring social space.

A one hectare sample showing the Lakou’s relationship to neighbouring social space.

The forested area has an irrigation strategy which is designed for bamboo yet divides plots which can be occupied as the population increases.

The forested area has an irrigation strategy which is designed for bamboo yet divides plots which can be occupied as the population increases.

The next scale of urbanism the Lari, a collection of 5 Lakous. The one sq km provides enough bamboo to build 5 Lakous and also have a quantity remaining to begin an economy.

The next scale of urbanism the Lari, a collection of 5 Lakous. The one sq km provides enough bamboo to build 5 Lakous and also have a quantity remaining to begin an economy.

The forested area and the Lakou workshops interact with the neighbouring manufacturing areas of Port au Prince to engage existing skills into the bamboo economy.

The forested area and the Lakou workshops interact with the neighbouring manufacturing areas of Port au Prince to engage existing skills into the bamboo economy.

Each process of construction has a wider engagement in providing work to the Haitian economy.

Each process of construction has a wider engagement in providing work to the Haitian economy.

The next scale involves 5 lakou's creating the street or 'Lari'.

The next scale involves 5 Lakou’s creating the street or ‘Lari’.

Introducing any new practice of working is difficult in any field. In a proud culture such as Haiti preaching a new form of building to the construction sector is riddled with problems. Low skills, lack of equipment and illiteracy, not to mention theft from a project, whether political corruption or material theft on site, all cause an
environment not in a position to implement quality output which is all the more dangerous in Haiti, a site of huge seismic and natural threat. Materials in this location are de ned by skill and natural resources. A lack of timber due to deforestation has resulted in concrete becoming the 21st Century vernacular and as a result any skills associated with construction have been aligned to work with concrete.

Initially the ‘Lakou’ courtyard house forms the fundamental urban block and this itself is broken into four stages.

(1) Occupational Strategy; which aims to determine a means of developing solutions of occupation for the local population grounded in the existing Haitian ‘Lakou’ typology of courtyard living.

(2) Material Strategy; looks at what is available in Haiti right now and speculates on how what is available can be compounded in the short term with bamboo. The typology and properties of materials will then determine any subsequent strategies.

(3) Structural Strategy; looks at how bamboo can be implemented into a structural system which allows for the Haitian vernacular ‘Lakou’ design to be implemented. The structural strategy also looks at the limits of design versus materials in seismic areas and tests compounds of materials as well as seismic building techniques to develop a low cost, easily buildable structural system with proven seismic credentials.

(4) Construction and Assembly Strategy; will produce an assembly logic explicit enough to work initially in a workforce mostly illiterate and yet can result in the successful implementation of aspects 1, 2, and 3, It is also designed that this logic has aspects of construction and material awareness which can propagate nationwide. This being either skill or outsourcing construction beyond the proposed new urbanism. This aims to create standards, knowledge, respect for the material and new economic opportunities.
This technical strategy forms an integral part of making a new timber and bamboo urbanism possible in Haiti. Through initially encouraging the physical use of bamboo in the Haitian construction sector at the building scale, the material properties of bamboo provide design opportunities to provide resilience to hurricanes and earthquakes, and affords an assembly logic which intends to communicate a parallel understanding of bamboo’s application beyond the building site. This rematerialisation of a construction industry and subsequent demand, aims to engender bamboo growth in Haiti, a material with wider ecological bene ts and lay the foundations of a new biodiverse dynamic Port au Prince.

Consultants:

logo-of-VL Voyages Lumiere, Pétionville, Haiti http://voyageslumiere.com/

540383_315544711856029_1077023501_n Les Ateliers Ganthier, Peguy-Ville, Haiti

Wynne Plantation, Kenscoff, Haiti

St Joseph’s Home for Street Kids, Delmas 91, Port au Prince, Haiti

DBambu, Argentona, Spain http://www.dbambu.net

With special thanks to:

Aditya Aachi, Gerry Reilly, Bernardita Devilat, Kasang Kajang, Royce Tsang, Evan Weng, Valeria Garcia, Jonas Lundberg, Andrew Yau and Osmond & Christine Naylor