In Haiti, 2013

I had the great fortune to tag along with architect and former Architecture for Humanity design fellow (and PID essay coauthor) Stacey McMahan on a week-long return to Haiti. I’d been following the progress of this country since just before the 2010 earthquake, through the work of Architecture for Humanity and Engineers Without Borders (before the latter’s country-wide moratorium).

This trip, my fifth and, presumably, final, was bittersweet. Of course the generous and awesome folks at the AFH country office took me in, and I was even able to meet up with an old colleague now at MASS Design Group to see their cholera projects.

Were it not for the Students Rebuild Haiti program I would not have even been able to report on this incredible work– so I’ve made an effort to “wrap up” three years of reporting on their behalf, being posted through Fall 2013 (amidst new, inspiring rebuilding challenges).

This small body of work includes tales of construction innovations and quagmires (even today), planning challenges, cultural excursions and catchups with some old buds. Through these stories I’m trying to outline a profile of a badly-wounded country in her third year of recovery — or, at least, a part of that story. At this point we all know that Haiti will never again be the same – though we can dig down a bit and find indices of how she will redefine herself.

PAP-SF-alt025-webSan Francisc-au-Prince

I. Arrivals

Seven days in Port-au-Prince – context

Itinéraire Karayib la – a preflight call with Stacey

La chaleur – Comparing old and new on arriving, and climbing out of that familiar heat

II. State of the Structure

Giants Among Gingerbreads – leading thoughts in next-generation Haitian architecture

Footprints in Bel-Air – no one said building in Haiti was easy – but no one said one would perpetually hit every imaginable difficulty (and still keep trucking)

Elie, now 100, still open to change – touring a new and newly-functioning campus

III. Adventures in cars with Diandine

Street Treats: passenger side edition – various delicacies one shouts to vendors to come back and sell

From student rebuilder to Haitian doctor-in-training – Stacey visits with an old (read: young) friend

Crosstown Passenger: no spectator sport – not without B-I-NGO it’s not!

Croix des Bouquets-des-Croix – the techniques of various studios in an artist colony outside Port-au-Prince are brought to study

Rara Reflektions – draws comparison between traditional Haitian dance and urban ambiance with a recent Arcade Fire album

Heure de pointe – proto-tourism in Port-au-Prince

IV. Lessons of Architecture for Haiti

Martissant – some places you’ll never see

MASS Design versus cholera – new directions in cholera treatment

How’s my turning – can furniture revolutionize medical care in Haiti?

Lessons of Architecture for Humanity – forthcoming…

V. Rentrée

Save the longest day for last – Marie Beliard – the start of an odd morning

Haiti equestrian – (horses)

The mission gate – in Toussaint L’Ouverture Airport, pay attention

Woozy Miami – a fresh slab of culture shock

Roosters – an epilogue


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