Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture

Department

Architecture

Primary Advisor

Marietta Monaghan

Abstract

The Caribbean nation of Haiti has experienced much hardship in providing services and opportunities to its general population and even more so to its rural populace. Of the scarce services the government provides, most are not accessible to millions in the countryside and smaller cities beyond. According to the United Nations Development Program Haiti, poverty Is much more prevalent in rural regions at 75.2% compared to 40.8% in urban regions. I have personally witnessed this in my own trips to Haiti. The concentration of services and centralization of power to Port-au-Prince can make living outside the capital seem like a world apart, while reducing the likelihood that any significant developments will take place. The attraction that urban dwelling offers such as resources, opportunities and social services are essentially nonexistent for these people. This further contributes to the socioeconomic divide within Haiti. Doudou Pierre Festile of the Acul-du-Nord Peasant Movement stated, “For Haiti to be able to decentralize is when they stop treating peasants like outsiders and start treating them like active participants in the development of the country”1. The peasants Festile speaks of are commonly referred to as “moun andeyo”, meaning people outside. However simple it may sound; this phrase holds a negative connation that has lead to the marginalization of people and towns “outside” of the capital. Many attempts by non-governmental organizations have been made to bring services to these areas but these efforts often fail or are not sustained over time due to the creation of “solutions” for Haitians rather than providing support for communities to realize their own plans. In response, this thesis seeks to create a space for rural communities to organize and utilize shared resources to create change for themselves. This will empower those in the countryside and cultivate a sense of responsibility and ownership. Analyzing precedents of cultural, training and resource centers that benefit under-served populations will provide insight of programmatic and spatial arrangements to consider. Haitians have used the traditional practices of “konbit” and “lakou” as a way to cooperatively create change. Konbit loosely translates to working together and applies to a range of activities from farming to building. Similarly, lakou describes a closely-knit compound in which members provide support for one another. By drawing upon these traditional concepts, this thesis conscientiously examines how a space can be a catalyst for communal work and utilize flexible programming to allow peripheral communities a means of connection within the larger context of Haiti. With flexible, multi-functional spaces, the intervention will be capable of supporting various programs, all of which prioritize community, sustainability, resilience and creation. Although this thesis seeks to provide opportunities by no means is it a panacea for these rural communities who are often excluded from talks of development. There is much work to be done in Haiti on many fronts, but it is only once the moun andeyo, the people outside, are invited in, can there be meaningful dialogue on prosperity for Haiti.

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