In our fifth Haitian adventure, we will be working in groups to intensively learn a design methodology, software tools, and use this to propose an efficient, iconic bamboo structure. In the later 2/3 of the course, we will build one design as one group, and the construction will act as a catalyst for participants to learn about bamboo: joints; species selection; treatment; taxonomy; cutting; and propagation.

Haiti’s lack of lightweight materials, due to devastating deforestation, creates a problem only compounded by the hurricane and seismic threat. Nowhere in the world requires the integration of computational design tools, new construction methods, and lightweight materials more than this Island paradise and we are inviting you to join us and demonstrate the social, cultural, economic and ecological role of the architect, and take away compelling individual portfolios.

Our ongoing agenda is to change the current primitive stigma attached to bamboo as a material of choice for construction, making them aesthetically desirable, affordable and intuitive to work with. We will be teaching parametric software with climate and structural optimisation tools, underscoring this with an immersive series of discussions from prominent researchers, architects, and cultural figures.

With community participation, cultural lectures and visits to historic landmarks in Haiti, participants will have a rare opportunity to embrace many aspects of this Country, whilst simultaneously learning about bamboo, new design practices, new software, and construction skills.

Prominent Features of the workshop/ skills developed

International and local professionals
The teaching staff consists of artisans, horticulturalists, engineers, architects and graduates of all levels of the AA School whom have worked for some of the largest and most articulate design practices in the world. This highly motivated group bring a comprehensive structural and material knowledge to the classroom and the building site. With a high tutor to student ratio throughout all stages of the course, students will have the opportunity to closely engage with the knowledge and passions of professionals from all over the world.

Software exposure
Throughout the course we will be teaching with Rhinoceros 3D, Grasshopper. We will be applying wind testing to these models through Autodesk Flow, finite element analysis through Karamba, and using V ray and Adobe Creative Suite to diagram, render and present your projects.

Bamboo building
We will have the chance to learn about bamboo, its treatments and structural capabilities. We will be shown the material selection process, treatment processes, joints, before all taking a role in the building of this pioneering project.

Variety of species
We will introduce students to a range of species growing in Haiti, including Guadua Angustifolia, Phyllostachys Aurea and Makinoi, and Bambusa Vulgaris and Lako. It is important for us to show the opportunity all bamboo gives us in construction.

Lecture series
To supplement the workshop, a wide array of architectural and cultural lectures will be delivered by local professionals and tutors. This aims to bolster the student work with an architectural knowledge of bamboo and the local vernacular, as well as the history of this uniquely vibrant location and culture.

Cultural events
Previous years have seen us conduct tours of the downtown of Port au Prince to look at vernacular gingerbread architecture, a trip to the metal working village of Croix des Bouquets, and a visit to the Oloffson Hotel in Port au Prince for a night of roots music and rhum punches. Though a release from the pressures of the studio environment, these are essential in getting a feel and understanding of the cultural context of this unique Caribbean Nation.

Community spirit
Accommodation will be provided as part of both courses. A group of local and international students, we will all be living and working in close proximity. As we have seen in previous years this fosters a community spirit and creates a very open learning atmosphere.

Replicable design
The legacy of the course is to offer designs and structural systems which can remain in Haiti long after. We will be visited by local craftsmen, artisans and carpenters, requiring students to play an integral role in the knowledge transfer to make sure these skills remain in Haiti for the long term.

Gardiner and Theobald, Foster and Partners, Gensler, Wynne Farm Ecological Reserve, FOKAL, UCLBP, Voyages Lumiere, Perez Reiter Architects, Cerveza Artesanal Bambusa, the World Bamboo Organisation, Industries Acra, and Karamba.

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