REALOMETER DISPATCH #1: Architectural Peer Review of Caracol EKAM USAID housing

REALOMETER DISPATCH #1: Architectural Peer Review of Caracol EKAM USAID housing

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2 May, 2012Greg Higgins, APR coordinator and editor

‘REALOMETER’ DISPATCH #1: Architectural Peer Review of Caracol EKAM USAID housing

Disaster prevention, a key mission of the Haiti Resource Development Foundation, must become a major component of the construction of new houses in Haiti.  As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

It is deeply disappointing that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), now two years and four months since Haiti’s horrific earthquake, is proposing to build thousands of houses that are culturally inappropriate, unhealthy and likely to create slum conditions in industrial corridors at several locations in Haiti.  How this appalling development was conceived, and by whom, are critical questions that remain unanswered.  News arrived recently that a contract was awarded on April 26th to build the Caracol EKAM units:

http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-5508-haiti-reconstruction-2-contracts-for-the-construction-of-900-housing.html

USAID indicated in their solicitation, issued last October, the award was expected on January 30, 2012. We can only hope the design was radically changed for the better during the nearly three month delay.  The Architectural Peer Review (APR) is based solely on construction documents found in USAID’s solicitation for bids for the first 750 houses near Caracol.  As described by USAID, the project is proposed as a “model” for building several thousand more units in industrial corridors throughout Haiti.  Caracol EKAM is planned to provide housing for apparel workers at the Caracol Industrial Park, now under construction.

The APR, available here, describes in detail why the Caracol EKAM project must be radically redesigned.  The design and implementation of a safe and dignified model for housing internally displaced persons should be the highest priority.

Many of you who read the APR will be outraged by the design presented.  We are attempting now to identify places where your voices can be heard, and potentially influence improvements to Caracol EKAM.  When these places are identified, I will post them here, as well as any new information that becomes available.

At present, readers are encouraged to share this link with others involved with housing projects in Haiti, and with US Senators and US Representatives that have exhibited a concern for Haiti and its people – and who could influence USAID to improve their housing plans. We hope that our message will also be read by officials in the Government of Haiti, as well as Haitian Architects and Engineers.

Access to the APR is offered in the spirit of “Creative Commons”.   That is, reproduction and distribution of this document is allowed only if shared in its entirety, attribution is given, and any reproduction is for non-commercial purposes.

Greg Higgins, APR coordinator and editor

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The Haitian Resource Development Foundation prioritizes programs that enable and empower various Haitian locales to further personal and collective independence. Engaging in a range of programs over 20 years, the HRDF continues a commitment to providing measurable results for program beneficiaries and program benefactors. Working with multiple international partners from North America and Europe, the HRDF is committed to fundamental improvements in Haitian villages to ensure greater economic vitality in the near future.