Housing and health in Haiti: rebuilding to keep TB at bay

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The first place winner of the ARCHIVE contest, entitled “Breathe House.”

With an enormous rebuild still needed in Haiti after the devastating earthquake last January, housing is in high demand in the small island country. This demand, coupled with the need to suppress the spread of tuberculosis, inspired the open innovation project Kay e Santen an Ayiti (Creole for “Housing and Health in Haiti”) sponsored by Architecture for Health in Vulnerable Environments (ARCHIVE). Nearly 150 design teams from five continents submitted “healthy home” designs, and ARCHIVE announced the five winners earlier this month.

TB transmission is associated with low ventilation, a key consideration for entrants tasked with specially designing homes to limit the transmission of tuberculosis – the second biggest infectious killer in Haiti after HIV/AIDS, according to ARCHIVE. Haiti has the highest TB infection rate in the Americas, and after the earthquake those infected with TB became particularly vulnerable as their treatment and care were interrupted. The complexity of housing necessary to combat TB was made evident by the multi-sector design teams, which combined the efforts of health workers, engineers, architects and development specialists.

“The five winning designs showcase many innovative ideas for improving the health of the local population,” according to the ARCHIVE press release.

First-place winner Breathe House incorporated sustainable health and housing, says the design description. The plan utilizes natural light, access to clean water, and natural ventilation assisted by modest active ventilation. The ARCHIVE judges particularly liked the use of local materials and the simplicity of construction. “The addition of composting toilets, creation of excellent ventilation and a design that considers the landscape complete the features that made this health- and environment-conscious design a winner,” according to the ARCHIVE press release.

“Safe, healthy and well-built housing serves a basic human right. We hope that our participation will have a positive, long-term impact on the availability of quality housing,” said the team hailing from Virginia and Wales, U.K.

The third place winner of the ARCHIVE contest, "Shutter Dwelling."

The four other design team winners included Maison Canopy from the USA, Shutter Dwelling from Italy, Bois l’Etat from the USA, and Cycle House from the Dominican Republic. The designs will be utilized to fulfill a pre-existing housing need in the eastern coastal town of Saint-Marc for members of Foundation Esther Boucicault Stanislas (FEBS), an organization that provides access to medication and works to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS in the region. People living with HIV are more susceptible to TB infection, and those at ARCHIVE hope the homes will improve the living conditions of FEBS members.

“What has sadly been overlooked even prior to the earthquake is how housing improvements can address the root causes of poor health,” said ARCHIVE Founder Peter Williams. “We hope our project will empower Haitians to rebuild their lives, but also we want to replicate this model in other countries – demonstrating that among the poorest, housing can be a central strategy for improving health.”

A list of the finalists and sketches of their submissions are available on the ARCHIVE website.

3 thoughts on “Housing and health in Haiti: rebuilding to keep TB at bay

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  3. Frank Schooley

    We have developed a completely new idea for disaster housing, Shelter In A Day. We assure you that if you look it over, we’ll make you two promises, one: that you have not seen anything like it anywhere and two: it is the most sensible design you have seen for disaster relief. Our house ships flat and assembles in a couple of hours using just included hammers and muscle power. Safe, strong and secure and inexpensive, this shelter is designed to last through the transition from tents/tarps to permanent housing. Please take a few minutes and see our interesting 2-1/2 minute video on our website at:


    Frank Schooley


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