Building the prototype
Konbit Shelter is a sustainable building project with the objective of sharing knowledge and resources through the creation of homes and community spaces in post earthquake Haiti. We are a group of artists, builders, architects, and engineers, who, after the January 2010 earthquake, asked ourselves how we could use our skills and resources to directly assist another community in a time of crisis.
Our goal is to link our creative passion as artists and our training as architects and engineers with the broad knowledge and skills of local artisans, builders, and farmers. We are working to build permanent, creatively designed structures which utilize the advantages of earth bag and dome architecture as adapted to the climate and conditions of rural Haiti.
Our focus is primarily on the super-adobe technique of earth bag architecture, which is an extraordinary building design for its ability to create earthquake, hurricane, flood, and fire resistant structures, using inexpensive and locally available resources. Originally designed by Nader Khalili and continued by Cal-Earth, the approach specifically addresses the world wide need for adequate housing. This system of building provides an easily replicable model, which can be built without using specialized construction machinery and can be participated in by the men and women of any community. Utilizing 90% earth, and only 10% cement, these structures are stronger than the now common cinder block and concrete slab construction. The technique also uses little to no wood, an invaluable asset in timber depleted Haiti.
In the summer of 2010, Konbit Shelter partnered with the Mango Grower’s Association of Leogane, in the village of Bigones, Barrier Jeudi, to create a multi room community center. We returned in December to construct a one family house. By sourcing all materials within Haiti, and raising money to hire a crew of builders from the community, we are able to bring the kind of assistance that promotes the local economy, creates jobs, and builds valuable skill sets.
View Directions to Konbit Shelter
community center in a larger map.
We are in the process of developing a long term building initiative, which, for each house will bring together one artist, one architect, and one family, to imagine and construct a home. We hope to continue to build a relationship with the people of Bigones, and to form a larger link between the creative community that we are a part of, and this rural community in need of housing. Through creative partnerships, we are seeking to participate in the rebuilding of Haiti in a way that acknowledges the importance of soulfulness and beauty in people’s daily lives.
The definition of Konbit in Creole is a traditional form of cooperative communal labor in Haiti, whereby the able-bodied folk of a locality help each other prepare their fields. It is a time for solidarity and cooperation in the face of adversity. Konbit Shelter is referencing the word with a global interpretation, people coming together to work cooperatively across national boundaries.