The Haiti Schools were all abuzz the fist week of November, however one will soon be flying solo, with others soon following suit: Dignité officially opened November 7 and Montrouis is scheduled for completion before the New Year. Between these and ambitious activity on the other school sites, construction techniques and training continue to be refined and we simply can't wait to see what the future has in store for the next generation of Haitian architecture!
École La Dignité -The Dignité extension celebrated its grand opening on Monday! Everything's finished and, after the school cleans up after its numerous guests, the rooms will be occupied by the eldest students at the school. School headmistress Vivianne Vieux is excited to expand the impact of her school to older students, and couldn't be happier with the buildings that Students Rebuild has funded! Read more about the ceremony and the school.
Opening Ceremony: Visitors try out the benches forming an outdoor meeting space created by Dignité's new classrooms
École Elie Dubois - It's all about groundwork this month at Elie. Foundation work has begun on the cafeteria at the back of the site, with construction progressing towards the gates to make coordination easier. Pipework is being designed for the schools drainage and waste systems, and the hole for the giant bio digester has been excavated–it's ten feet deep! Meanwhile our architectural engineer Rick Ehlert and new design fellow Natalie Desrosiers are conducting reinforced concrete training sessions for the Elie construction crew. Also, discussions are ongoing with the preservation authority ISPAN regarding retrofits to Building One–including location and materials of porch and stairs which will need structural revisions.
Engineer Rick Ehlert and Design Fellow Natalie Desrosiers (both seated) conduct construction training classes on site at Elie Dubois
Collège Mixte Le Bon Berger, Montrouis - The second floor has topped out and steel and formwork are being prepared for the ring beam to top the walls and tie them all together. Steel trusses are also being welded for the roof–an exploration into our team specifying different materials from the wood trusses used in Dignité. The benefits include working with a more available construction material, and operational changes include tying metal plates into the ring beam pour for spot welding other welding happening on-site. Meanwhile, the first floor is being coated in the traditional Haitian cement-based crepissage plaster, and construction has begun on the handicap ramp.
Crepissage coating is being applied to the ground floor of Montrouis
École Baptiste Bon Berger, Pele - The perimeter wall has been replaced and foundations have been dug for the phase 1 buildings...and keep filling with water! Also the construction crew can now set to work crushing rubble from the old classrooms, as soon as they assemble the delivered rubble crushers.
Rubble crushers arrive on site...with some assembly required!
Institut Foyer du Savoir - The team has worked out the contract problems with the school owner, and construction can proceed on the Home of Knowledge!
Deep foundations needed on site.
Hiromi Tabei, our intrepid liaison between Architecture for Humanity headquarters, Students Rebuild and the Japan team, recently recounted her trip to Japan in August. On the one hand, there were the festivals, the design student charrettes, the Mediatheque exhibitions...and a characteristically youthful ambition to keep moving. On the other hand, the frustrations of meeting with community and government representatives have left a very real understanding of the invisible factors impeding a timely restoration of so many people to the familiarity and security of their pre-quake lives.
The Sendai Mediatheque might be the most famous contemporary building in the northern half of Honshu known as Tohoku. The building is–along with its architect Toyo Ito–admired by designers and engineers around the world. A popular local tourist destination, the Mediatheque serves the one million residents of Sendai as a powerful community resource. In it, Ito has employed an innovative and elegant structural system that flows between its six floors of playfully reimagined library space. In August the building was only half open to the public.
The Mediatheque itself suffered only minor damage following last March's earthquake (tsunami flood waters did not reach most of residential Sendai), but at the close of Summer employees couldn't come for their shifts–their domestic lives still being in shambles. Many people working in Sendai lost their homes to the earthquake or the resulting tsunami. At the Mediatheque, and throughout the city, a policy developed to conserve electricity–rolling blackouts threatened the Tohoku region while the damaged Fukushima power plant conducted extensive safety tests. Indoor spaces remained dark and warm through the summer.
Yet these setbacks haven't stopped a modest art exhibition from occupying the Mediatheque's lobby: Minna No Ie, or "Everybody's House," shows drawings from many ranks of Japan's post-tsunami landscape, drawings from local schoolchildren sit beside those of world-renown architects Steven Holl, Tadao Ando and Frank Gehry. Prompted by Ito, the exhibition invited illustrated thoughts on "places for people to share memories" and "houses of hope through difficulty." The exhibition is one small attempt at correcting to an exacerbated situation–offering solace to a region in many ways paralyzed by bureaucratic sluggishness and the sheer volume of work required to simply prepare to rebuild. In an environment like this, small gestures become indispensable for the resolve of the disaster victims. It's a long road ahead.
Sendai Saiwai-cho Center
Across town from the wounded Mediatheque, Hiromi had her first encounter with the complications of devastation, far worse than the Mediatheque's. The 20-year-old Sendai Saiwai-cho Community Center & Youth Center suffered extensively from the earthquake. The roof is caving in. Glass blocks have fallen out and continue to be knocked loose during aftershocks, to shatter on the sidewalk. The Center had flown under the radar of Sendai's City Hall, and thus no inspections have been made or action taken.
During their stay in Sendai, Hiromi and fellow Fellow Kumiko Fujiwara (who in her spare time operates SOAT–Supporting Organization for Artists of Tohoku) saw to raising attention for the Youth Center from the City of Sendai, and pursue repairs. The two ended up leaving their pleas in a questionable status–City Hall was not immediately responsive, and the tour of Tohoku needed to continue.
Bon bagay! The Rebuilding Center works through a flurry of activity at the peak of summer–including several generously-offered (and incredible) video shorts. Enjoy!
School construction École La Dignité has completed foundations and slab and walls are now going up, while Elie Dubois undergoes demolition. Meanwhile, builders at Montrouis are absorbing techniques for safer building practices as foundations are being dug and sights are set for November 1 completion.
Communities plan communitiesThe Santo Community Development Plan, with Habitat for Humanity International, moves into its third phase of planning a fully-serviced development for 500 families outside Léogâne. Phase 3 includes finalizing civil works design, housing and sanitation systems, and exploring a community/sports center and commercial corridor scheme. Nearby residents will be engaged in three additional community charrettes–see below.
Surveys backThe Economic Corridors team is analyzing over 400 business surveys...and the many business owners working to spring back. Review the methodology (pdf) and read some of the business' stories (pdf).
Civic arts initiative seeking artistsThe Civic Arts for Haitian Schools RFQ is about to close its application phase–spread the word and let your local contacts know they could have their creation installed on the grounds of a rebuilt school in Haiti. Deadline is fast approaching - see the application for details.
Calling all CAD and BIM maestrosThe Center is looking for assistance training new sessions of Haitian professionals in Autocad and Revit software. Sessions last two weeks and comprise of 12-person classes held at the Rebuilding Center, travel and lodging provided by Architecture for Humanity. Contact Sandhya Janardhan for details.
Welcome to the team!The Rebuilding Center welcomes accountant Nicole Jeanty, construction outreach professionals Lyonel Saintime and Douyon Clotaire and volunteers Ben Gordon, Josh Canez, David Gonzalez and Sven Kalim.
In the Media
Events The next Rebuilding Center Meet & Greet is this Friday, July 29. Presenter Cassandre Méhu discusses a new infrastructure design for Rue Métélus and Route de Delmas that will alleviate pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The event kicks off at 5:30 - contact Rolande Augustin for more information.