Joanna Tanasescu and Ryan Cirkus
As part of a design studio where teams of students were assigned a cluster of previously existing structures to redevelop sustainably, we created a design for the restoration of Le Habitation LeClerc, an estate situated in the middle of one of Haiti’s largest slums in Port-au-Prince, which was supposedly built in the early 19th century as the home of Pauline Bonaparte, the sister of Napoleon. We created a series of structures to emphasize both the creative programmatic gestures occurring in the spaces as well as integrating a feeling of community that emanates from residents of the country.
For our design, which includes two housing units and a larger multipurpose building, we utilized local materials such as bamboo, and combined concrete with soil to make rammed earth. We selected bamboo due to its flexibility and porosity, which allowed for strong structural patterns. We also applied a metal screen fashioned by Haitian metal artists, which is handmade from oil drums. We used the two housing units’ combined grey water to create a lush, shared garden. We used the larger third building as an artisan shop to allow for a workspace for communal income. Inside the artisan shop, people will have a space to practice and hone a variety of crafts and skills such as woodcarving, pottery and metalwork.
We aimed to not only restore the buildings that are in ruins, but to also restore a sense of community around our site.