Architecture For Humanity's Really Boring Year in Haiti


Kate Stohr, the co-founder of Architecture for Humanity, dropped me a note suggesting that I have a look at their Year in Review of their work in Haiti. I did, and couldn't help but come to the conclusion that it was really boring.. I mean really, others like Kevin Schopfer are proposing floating cities; Andre Duany is floating flatpack cabins; The SEED project proposes container cities, and what does Architecture for Humanity come up with?


1. A Plan

A year ago, Cameron Sinclair laid out a plan including Community Based Anchors to supply architecture and building services to community groups, NGOs and social entrepreneurs on the ground. They distributed a rebuilding Manual 101, published in english, french and creole. They created teams "of architectural and construction professionals to develop and build community facilities, including schools and medical centers. These teams will be local and regional with some international support."

Most outrageously, they refused to consider dropping container houses or inflatables or flatpacks, noting that there was a need to build a construction workforce:

Train and educate incoming volunteers and community members in building safely, emphasizing the need for sustainable materials and construction techniques. It is not about just building homes, but jobs.


Elie Dubois is a secondary school run by seven nuns two blocks from the presidential palace.

Instead, they concentrated on schools. Kate writes:

No surprise we've been focusing a lot on schools... Schools are truly the anchor in a community. Once you get them up and running many other good things start to happen.

Completely ignoring our fascination with high tech floating flatpack prefabs in shipping containers, they did the following:

  • Distributed Rebuilding 101 Manual to 5,000+ builders

  • Provided Mason training grant impacting 500 builders

  • Schools in design and construction: 7, impacting 3,027 students

  • Hosted 58 visiting professionals (long-term and short-term)

  • Performed damage assessments of structures impacting 4,218 people

  • Designed camp improvements and upgrades impacting 25,000 people

  • Number of Haitians employed on projects to date: 1,340

  • Total design and construction beneficiaries to date: 37,935


École Baptiste Bon Berger

It is tough to grab people's attention when all you do is create a plan and follow it. When you do the slow, difficult work of training people to help themselves in conditions that continue to be awful. That is why TreeHugger and every other blog or magazine pays so much attention to the Harvest Cities and their like, they are so much more photogenic.

But when you look at the Architecture for Humanity year in review, you see that they have actually accomplished something, that they know what they are doing. Contribute to Architecture for Humanity

More on Architecture for Humanity
Humanitarian Design Isn't The New Imperialism, It's The New Compassion
After Earthquakes: Top Down Solutions or Bottom Up?
Are Shipping Containers An Answer For Haiti Housing?
Architecture For Humanity's Plan For Haiti; Cameron Sinclair Says "Steal This Plan"
Architecture For Humanity's Plan For Haiti; Cameron Sinclair Says "Steal This Plan"
The 3Rs for Haiti: Response, Recovery and Reconstruction

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