Konbit Shelter began as a sustainable building project in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, and has developed into a long-term relationship between two communities, based on a shared commitment to the process of recovery.
Konbit Shelter builds low-cost, sustainable, disaster-resistant homes & community spaces in Komye, Haiti.
The 2010 earthquake in Haiti killed more than 100,000 people and destroyed more than 250,000 homes and 30,000 commercial buildings. Most of this destruction was caused not the by the quake itself, but by Haiti’s poor quality of construction, lax building standards and over-reliance on concrete, which is extremely susceptible to earthquake damage.
Fueled by the belief that the creative process can help in this time of crisis, we brought together a small group of artists, engineers, and builders connected with the village of Komye (Cormiers in French), 15 miles from the epicenter of the quake.
Since 2010, we’ve built a community center and three single-family homes, each designed and adapted with feedback from the community.
Our work has focused on creating meaningful work and well-paid jobs for local residents while collectively creating beautiful permanent architectural answers to the problem of rebuilding in a new way and with limited resources.
KAY NANA, 2017
In 2017, our team came together once again to help rebuilding efforts in Cormiers in the aftermath of devastating Hurricane Matthew in 2016. This time, we chose the design of a sustainable home built with bamboo. We worked in collaboration with architect Joana Torres of Oficina Design, a New York City based design firm. The community voted on who would receive the home, and decided on making it for Mama Louisiana Pierre Louis and her grandchildren, who lost their home after the 2010 earthquake and had since been living in a temporary shelter. The construction process once again brought together people across the community of Cormiers, who each employed their unique skill sets in various facets of the building process. We began in February and completed the home in May 2017. The design is based on vernacular Haitian architecture, creating a dialogue with its surroundings through elements like double-pitched roofs, front porches and plenty of outdoor space for circulation. The central patio connects three separate rooms for living, sleeping and cooking and works as the main space for most domestic activities. Oficina Design implemented low-tech, low maintenance and low cost solutions to harvest rainwater and use natural light; these solutions were taught to the crew of local builders and can be easily replicated by the local community.
COMMUNITY CENTER, 2010
In 2010 Konbit Shelter, with residents of the village of Cormiers, began building a three room Super-Adobe community center. Our first goal was to create a public space, so that members of the community could build it together, and decide from experience whether this style of building suited their needs for housing. Partnering with the Mango Grower’s Association, we were told that they wanted a light filled space with windows that could close so that the older generation could take adult literacy classes in privacy, without the prying eyes of their kids and grandkids. Construction began in June 2010 and completed in January 2012.
MONIQUE'S HOUSE, 2011
During the construction of the community center, one of our team members, Monique Pierre had a baby. She and the little one, and her two other children were living in a small tarp house, which collected heat like a green house — a situation that was not safe for her or the kids. The community came to the conclusion that they wanted to continue construction with Konbit Shelter, and Monique was the obvious candidate for the house that would be built. Her house was built in 2011.
ADELIA'S HOUSE, 2013
In meetings with the community, getting feedback about the two completed constructions, and trying to decide on next steps forward, we learned that the super adobe style of building, although designed to be an affordable answer to the problem of durable housing, was still economically out of the reach of most people in Haiti, owing to the incredibly inflated cost of building materials. With our third construction we set out to adapt other earth-bag building techniques to create something more specifically tailored to current needs and circumstances of Cormiers. With the Mango Grower’s Association, we identified three families most in need of housing and began construction on Adelia’s house in March 2013.
Your tax-deductible donation will go directly towards salaries for teachers in our after-school program, and towards construction and materials to build and maintain Konbit Shelter's buildings.
A donation of $105 can fully fund a week of teachers' salaries!