The PhilaU “X FACTOR”

Housing Haiti

THE NEED: When an earthquake struck just west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 2010 the devastation displaced between 1.5 to 2 million people. Architecture Professor Bob Busser went to Haiti for 10 weeks helping to construct temporary housing. He came back inspired to make the needs of Haiti’s homeless the focus of a capstone course.

Housing Haiti

BAND OF ARCHITECTS: Fifteen fifth-year architecture students taking the capstone course co-taught by Architecture Professor Busser and Ivano D’Angella banded together to design a transitional shelter that could be quickly and cheaply constructed.

“You go to school for five years and you do a lot of work on paper. It was great to see all of the details of the design play out in construction. You got to see what kinds of things might look good on paper, but need adjustment when it comes time to build.” — Kaitlyn Korber / Architecture

“The project was truly a class effort and would not have happened without a contribution from each and every person.” — Mike Bonelli, architecture major

Bob Busser, professor of architecture and capstone course instructor

Michael Tagliavia, architecture major

Ivano D’Angella, professor of architecture and capstone course instructor

Matt Kriner, architecture major

 

AUTHENTIC LIMITS: Students faced the same constraints that real aid workers in Haiti had. Their designs could only incorporate available resources such as the five gallon buckets relief supplies arrived in. They also had to conform to the same building dimensions aid workers used.

CLIENT RESEARCH: To inform their designs students spent the first six weeks of the course learning about how Haitians live.

WINNING DESIGN: Created by student Kaitlyn Korber, the winning design was constructed using mostly woven bamboo, mesh, concrete and sand foundations poured into five-gallon buckets and some metal studs. Korber’s design, which Professor Busser thinks is better than the structures actually built in Haiti (where he volunteered during the disaster relief) includes a wall slanted outward at 15 degrees to create more space despite a small square footage requirement — about 175 square feet for a family of five. The outwardly slanted wall allows for easier access to bunk beds within and improves access to natural light and ventilation.

TEAM TAKEAWAYS: “When humanitarian aid organizations came to Haiti after the quake, they brought supplies in literally over 22,000 five-gallon buckets. The people didn’t know what to do with all of the leftover buckets, so we were able to fill them with concrete to use as foundations for shelters.” — Professor Busser

“Mike Tagliavia, Matt Kriner and I completed most of the timber framing and roofing on the project while the rest of the class worked away on the bamboo facade and the tarp doors and windows. The class even created ‘bunk beds’ inside, based on Kaitlyn’s ingenious design to stack the beds to conserve space. The project was truly a class effort and would not have happened without a contribution from each and every person.” — Mike Bonelli

“It was really exciting to see the project come to life.” — Kaitlyn Korbe