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Design Line: Haiti SOFTHOUSE Project

20 Feb

photo courtesy of Haiti SOFTHOUSEgroup, LLC

The Haiti Softhouse project launched a pilot program to create four housing units in Haiti by the summer time. Deutsche Bank has granted $50,000 to mass produce these light, modular homes. They utilize steel frames and durable fabric exteriors, all designed to stand strong against natural disasters, including tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes.

TheSOFTHOUSE group is working with The Rural Haiti Project, to secure a location in Jacmel, Haiti, to create the first SOFTHOUSE village. Ultimately, the goal is to transfer design and fabrication expertise to local manufacturers, thus stimulating the Haitian economy, as well as providing a transitional solution. SOFTHOUSE communities buy time to envision long-term rebuilding strategies. As long as people remain displaced from their original homes, there’s powerful potential here. The structures can be mounted directly into the ground with high-strength earth anchors in a variety of soil conditions. Another option is to anchor them onto a prefab concrete base structured from concrete rubble leftover from the earthquake. Both durability and sustainability are of grave importance, since much of the 2010 earthquake’s deadly damage was caused by the weak structures of buildings and homes.

“We are trying to get the pilot off the ground,” said Mr. Rodney Leon, project manager of Haiti SOFTHOUSE. “If we can get them made in the thousands, then they can be manufactured cheaply for a couple thousand dollars each.”

Fort Greene’s Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) presented project plan mockups of these transitional shelters in the “Le Projet Nouveau” exhibit, which features the work of artists re-imagining Haiti a year after the earthquake.

Re-Imaging Haiti will be at MoCADA through May 8.

A video with Mr. Leon discussing the need for focusing on solutions to the crisis of shelter in Haiti:

Below: The project plan outlines the tools, time, and people power needed. It’s as simple as having the softhouse, 1 adjustable wrench, 2 socket wrenches, a 10-ft ladder and a 6-ft ladder, and four volunteers.