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School of Architecture workshop helps Haiti rebuild

The School of Architecture hosted a five-day workshop at the end of March to help suggest ideas for rebuilding Haiti after the destructive earthquake in January.
It all began when the Haitian government’s commission for reconstruction asked UM’s School of Architecture to help it with post-earthquake rebuilding plans. The result was an overwhelming response to help.
Ultimately, it was decided that the best way to hear everyone’s ideas and make the most of the unique situation was to hold a “Charrette.”
A Charrette is a collaborative effort that integrates ideas from many areas to achieve the best results for one common vision.
Joining UM participants were architects, economists, engineers, city planners and simply anyone else who wanted to lend a helping hand from all over the United States as well as participants from Haiti.
All of the contributors to the Charrette were volunteers and helped purchase plane tickets for members from Haiti’s post-earthquake teams.
Individuals from the Haitian front included United Nations ambassador Leslie Voltaire.
“The mission was to illustrate the vision of the plan that will be presented in New York by the Haitian government,” Voltaire said. “I think we’ve succeeded in a way that will allow us to go from city-to-city and get input from populations and help rebuild our country after the earthquake.”
The final presentation of the workshop was revealed at the Glasgow Auditorium by Dean of the School of Architecture and Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.
“The presentation was not supposed to be a final solution or plan, instead illustrations and ideas to provide broader goals and strategies to be discussed by the Haitian government who will make the final decision,” Plater-Zyberk said.
In the final presentation, the efforts of all groups were incorporated in a showcase full of possible sketches and ideas.
Included were ideas to possibly grow economies in new rural areas that the Haitian people have retreated to.
The Charrette highlighted the already-strong Haitian culture and exposed it to make the country’s cultural wealth better known. Activities such as zip lining and SCUBA diving, as well as cultural characteristics such as Haitian architecture and art were the focus of the possible solutions in order to strengthen the Haitian community and the tourism industry.
Sonia Chao, director of the Center for Urban and Community Design and a research associate professor, saw this as a unique opportunity for many architecture students.
“It gave them an opportunity to understand the roles architects play in civic life as leaders,” Chao said.
Several different plans were also drawn up as alternative, temporary housing for displaced Haitian residents called “starter shelters.” Plater-Zyberk uses the term in order to provide hope for additions to the shelters as the rebuilding process continues instead of the possibility of the shelters remaining as temporary housing.
“It was a great experience and now we plan to stay as involved as possible and begin working on funding to help out our Haitian neighbors,” Chao said.
Colleen Dourney may be contacted at cdourney@themiamihurricane.com.

The School of Architecture hosted a five-day workshop at the end of March to help suggest ideas for rebuilding Haiti after the destructive earthquake in January.It all began when the Haitian government’s commission for reconstruction asked UM’s School of Architecture to help it with post-earthquake rebuilding plans. The result was an overwhelming response to help.Ultimately, it was decided that the best way to hear everyone’s ideas and make the most of the unique situation was to hold a “Charrette.”A Charrette is a collaborative effort that integrates ideas from many areas to achieve the best results for one common vision.Joining UM participants were architects, economists, engineers, city planners and simply anyone else who wanted to lend a helping hand from all over the United States as well as participants from Haiti.All of the contributors to the Charrette were volunteers and helped purchase plane tickets for members from Haiti’s post-earthquake teams.Individuals from the Haitian front included United Nations ambassador Leslie Voltaire.“The mission was to illustrate the vision of the plan that will be presented in New York by the Haitian government,” Voltaire said. “I think we’ve succeeded in a way that will allow us to go from city-to-city and get input from populations and help rebuild our country after the earthquake.”The final presentation of the workshop was revealed at the Glasgow Auditorium by Dean of the School of Architecture and Distinguished Professor Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.“The presentation was not supposed to be a final solution or plan, instead illustrations and ideas to provide broader goals and strategies to be discussed by the Haitian government who will make the final decision,” Plater-Zyberk said.In the final presentation, the efforts of all groups were incorporated in a showcase full of possible sketches and ideas.Included were ideas to possibly grow economies in new rural areas that the Haitian people have retreated to.The Charrette highlighted the already-strong Haitian culture and exposed it to make the country’s cultural wealth better known. Activities such as zip lining and SCUBA diving, as well as cultural characteristics such as Haitian architecture and art were the focus of the possible solutions in order to strengthen the Haitian community and the tourism industry.Sonia Chao, director of the Center for Urban and Community Design and a research associate professor, saw this as a unique opportunity for many architecture students.“It gave them an opportunity to understand the roles architects play in civic life as leaders,” Chao said. Several different plans were also drawn up as alternative, temporary housing for displaced Haitian residents called “starter shelters.” Plater-Zyberk uses the term in order to provide hope for additions to the shelters as the rebuilding process continues instead of the possibility of the shelters remaining as temporary housing.“It was a great experience and now we plan to stay as involved as possible and begin working on funding to help out our Haitian neighbors,” Chao said.


Colleen Dourney may be contacted at cdourney@themiamihurricane.com.

July 22, 2010

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Colleen Dourney

Contributing Writer


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