Bamboo Lab Haiti

ORGANIZATION NAME: The Architectural Association


SUMMARY: The Bamboo Project aims to integrate domestically grown lightweight materials into the Haitian construction industry by demonstrating the structural, aesthetic and ecologically resilient nature of bamboo. This creates a model which can be deployed in areas suffering from deforestation and threatened seismically and climatically worldwide.

PROBLEM SPACE: “The devastation of the magnitude 7.0Mw earthquake that temporarily focused the world’s attention on Haiti in 2010 was vast. It was uniquely destructive at a time when modern civilization has evolved such that densely populated urban centres are built according to international codes and safety standards. An estimated three million people were affected. Over 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings collapsed, one million were left homeless and over 300,000 deaths resulted2. This devastation was due to a lack of lightweight building materials and inadequate construction practices, not purely natural forces.
In 2010 the World Resources Institute revealed that the planet has lost 85% of its intact forests as a result of deforestation, and global rates are increasing2. Only 2% of Haiti’s trees remain3. This is not only an ecological disaster, but has also eliminated lightweight building materials from the construction sector, consequences of which were seen in the disproportionate devastation of the 2010 earthquake.
Locally, our initiative will establish a model for lightweight bamboo within the construction industry in Haiti to change the population’s relationship with bamboo and provide a catalyst for reforestation. This model can be deployed globally in areas of similar seismic, climatic and ecological contexts.”

SOLUTION: “The largest and most deadly effect of deforestation in Haiti has been removal of timber as a material for the local construction industry. The future for the Haitian construction sector has to be lightweight materials. Port au Prince’s timber vernacular “”gingerbread architecture”” proved this, as ironically, these century old timber-framed homes in the capital remained standing.
Six years on, Haiti is now faced with the rare opportunity to rebuild better by establishing a culture of sustainable, lightweight, secure building practices. It is imperative the there is an organic growth of demand for lightweight homes from the population, as any solution cannot be forced. We are using cutting edge architectural design to create a magnetic vision of bamboo architecture as a viable alternative to the current popular heavy concrete houses seen in Haiti and many of the worlds developing cities.
In order to create demand for the use of bamboo in the construction sector, it is vital that local architects can design with it, engineers can engineer it, builders can build with it and craftsmen and carpenters can convert their knowledge of timber to bamboo. Therefore we are working in four key areas to see our solution and project succeed: Design Education, Infrastructure, Reforestation and Construction.
Using an existing bamboo plantation and furniture factory in the North of Haiti we have already begun upgrading facilities and skills needed. By reducing the cost of treating and transporting Haitian bamboo we are looking at reducing bamboo construction to under $25 per sq foot, the pre-2010 cost of domestic construction. Together awareness, skills and affordability can increase the use of bamboo and create an incentive for others to plant it independently, gradually reforesting Haiti.”

CONTACT: [email protected]