Into Villa Rosa - Rebuilding high-density housing in Port-au-Prince

Into Villa Rosa - Rebuilding high-density housing in Port-au-Prince

  • by Architecture for Humanity
  • Feb 23, 2012
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The findings of Villa Rosa's Initial Phase micro planning sessions reported Zones 4 & 5 as having suffered "relatively little damage" from the 2010 earthquake. However, the neighborhood remained extremely underserved. As a focus of urban redevelopment, the first step to addressing community needs would be face-to-face interaction with the inhabitants, and metrics of which infrastructures exist, and which need introducing.

A series of mirco-planning sessions evaluated 10 Zones from an initial phase of urban reconstruction intervention. The sessions involved door-to-door surveying. This particular session surveyed 29 units, "of which 9 were rentals and 20 were lived-in by the owner."

The survey team led by Architecture for Humanity also asked about cisterns, latrines and rainwater catchment. Out of 24 units, only 13.5 latrines were found, 11 rainwater collection systems and 5 cisterns. That amounts to 1 latrine per 8 people, 1 rainwater collection system per approx 10 people, and 1 cistern per 20 people.

The conditions are frighteningly typical. This is Villa Rosa, an informally-planned neighborhood and home to tens of thousands of Port-au-Princians. Over the past six months, Architecture for Humanity's Haiti Rebuilding Center has been collaborating with partner organizations and local residents.

Villa Rosa has been developing over the last 30 years with no or very limited planning. Houses are constructed on mid and high degree sloped terrain, which is not suitable for construction without taking land stabilization measures. The settlement presents the structure of an unplanned settlement that has been densified over the years, resulting in very small plots (as small as 10m2) and irregular circulation ways. Often connections are over 'private' land.

Led by the Dutch non-profit Cordiad, the Villa Rosa project brings together a half dozen organizations to resolve major issues redeveloping dense urban areas. Architecture for Humanity threw its weight into community outreach and crafted a system of surveying residents of Villa Rosa, from which accurate design recommendations could be specified and implemented.

The Team worked with through a series of community meetings, including fact-gathering Mapping Charrettes and direction-finding Vision Charrettes. Residents were invited to chart their daily living patterns (many, it turned out, were unemployed and stayed around their house or visited a nearby siblings, or worked from their house as hair dressers or shopkeepers) and ambitions (determining how to grow as a community, with additional water points, public latrines and garden spaces). These sessions were followed by Micro Planning sessions taking place in the community, discussing interventions on a neighborhood / cluster of houses scale.


Villa Rosa drainage design details
Villa Rosa drainage design details sheet

Villa Rosa development design: Zone 10 rendering
Villa Rosa development design: Zone 10 mass rendering

Community presentation guided by design fellow Rickie Siegel

Design fellows Nancy Doran and Nathalie Desrosiers conduct a validation session with Zone 7 residents
Design fellows Nancy Doran and Nathalie Desrosiers conduct a validation session with Zone 7 residents