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Reconstruction Plan for Haiti / Trans_City Architecture and Urbanism

Reconstruction Plan for Haiti / Trans_City Architecture and Urbanism

September 19, 2011

By Alison Furuto

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Over the last 18 months, Trans_City architecture and urbanism, has developed a comprehensive plan for the reconstruction of Jacmel, Haiti based upon the concept of satellite cities located at the edge of the existing, earthquake-ravaged city center.(A concept developed in accordance with the universal design principals of the Housing Reconstruction Framework of the Haitian Government) The concept includes an urban masterplan, and a proposal for prefabricated houses, in which the building shell is industrially manufactured in Austria, and finished by local hand workers. In line with the content of the project, the architecture does not attempt to be spectacular. Rather, it is the holistic integration of the many levels of an urban system that makes this project interesting.

The urbanism proposes an ecologically sustainable planning for a topographically challenging tropical site. We have divided the site into three basic zones, depending upon their topographic qualities.

1) Steep hillsides, which are not buildable, are to be reforested.

2) Valley bottoms, which are also not buildable due to flash-flood dangers, will be terraced and converted to middle intensity agriculture for local consumption.

3) Ridges and plateaus are inhabitable for the built environment.

- The spatial structure of the neighborhoods is determined by their topographic conditions. In the flatter areas (inclination zones I+II) the streets are laid out perpendicular to the main street in a classic gridiron system with interspersed green parks; the houses are one-story high. In the steeper areas (inclination zones III+IV) the streets track the site contours and are interconnected by a series of planted stairs; the two-family houses are two stories high and offset so that their entries address the terracing of the streets.

- The architecture of the individual houses should be simple and directed to the needs and social practices of the Haitian people, as well as the tropical climate of the region. In final build-out houses will be built using local materials and techniques, but in the critical first phase, we propose using prefabricated, massive wooden components, produced in Austria, to build the houses.


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