Upwards! Haiti schools Elie Dubois and Pele beyond ground floors

Upwards! Haiti schools Elie Dubois and Pele beyond ground floors

  • by Architecture for Humanity
  • May 21, 2012
  • comments

Original article on the Students Rebuild Haiti blog.

There's a term in French for a building's ground level: Rez-de-chaussee, or RDC. The French start counting their floors on the second level, and this tradition has bled into Haitian culture as well. For both Pele and Elie schools, the RDC has been built, and we begin to see each school's character emerge as construction continues above the ground floor.



École Elie Dubois - Downtown Port-au-Prince

Elie's cafeteria building is very far along, and beginning to take flight with a distinctive roof. The building will employ what's known as a butterfly roof, a kind of inverted-pitched roof taller on the sides than along the central ridge. Benefits of this kind of roof (beyond its lovable form) include encouraging more air movement and the ability of the roof to collect rain water and direct it to one end of the trough for reuse. Wood trusses have been tied into hurricane straps built into the cafeteria's concrete ring beam (the continuous concrete band topping a wall), and purlins, frequent strips of wood, have been attached to the trusses. The roof sheeting will be attached to the purlins via screws, completing a secure continuum for the cafeteria's structure. Meanwhile, plaster work (crepissage) has begun on the first floor walls.
Purlins up @ Elie's cafeteria bldg
Purlins up @ Elie's cafeteria bldg
The cafeteria building, view from schoolyard
The cafeteria building, view from schoolyard
Plaster work in progress
Plaster work in progress
Workers coordinate placing the trusses
Workers coordinate placing the trusses


Meanwhile, Elie's sanitation block (bloc sainitaire) is having its ring beam poured - and you can get a sense of how roof trusses will be attached here within a matter of days. Right now, it's not much to look at, unless you're a fan of impeccable steel reinforcing work:
Bloc sanitaire ring beam, pre-pour

Bloc sanitaire ring beam, pre-pour
As the ring beam is poured, you can see how the hurrican ties are set to receive a sturdy roof truss
As the ring beam is poured, you can see how the hurrican ties are set to receive a sturdy roof truss

École Baptiste Bon Berger - Pele, Port-au-Prince
The Pele school had had its share of difficulties pouring the concrete floor slab for its premier étage (1st floor for the Haitians & French, 2nd floor for North Americans) - including disturbances from neighborhood gangs looking to cause trouble on site. Fortunately, the slab finally got poured, and headmaster Chedrick Caneus took advantage of the slab's need to cure (or harden), to symbolically hold off construction to bring the Pele neighborhood's attention to the issue of the riffraff. With the strength of the Pele community focused on helping the school get built, the self-proclaimed "bandits" have been warded off, and progress is now being made on the second level of classrooms.
Progress on the Upper floor
Progress on the Upper floor
A completed slab pour!
A completed slab pour!
The slab being poured, and mechanically vibrated so the ingredients mix and settle properly
The slab being poured, and mechanically vibrated so the ingredients mix and settle properly
All hands on deck for the slab pour
All hands on deck for the slab pour. Figuratively speaking - clearly some hands need to run the cement mixer
Laying bars for the slab reinforcement (panoramic of the two upper-level classrooms)
Laying bars for the slab reinforcement (panoramic of the two upper-level classrooms)

Collège Coeur Immacule de Marie - Downtown Port-au-Prince

Our team in Haiti recently started a new school project! Lessons learned from the first Haiti schools - sponsored by the 2010 Students Rebuild youth initiative to get Haitian peers safer, stronger classrooms - will go toward helping this all-girls school in Downtown Port-au-Prince complete permanent school buildings. CIM school once had science and computer labs and 20 classrooms on three floors! The school plans to rebuild their school better than before and has asked Architecture for Humanity to direct design and construction. By next March we hope to have 850 girls going back to science class on the deuxieme étage (third floor for you North Americans) of a newly-rebuilt and of course incredibly distinctive Collège Coeur Immacule do Marie. Read more on the CIM school.
Temporary classrooms and a damaged Gingerbread house at CIM
Temporary classrooms and a damaged Gingerbread house at CIM
CIM's computer lab today, in a temporary classroom
CIM's computer lab today, in a temporary classroom
The old CIM school - in its 3-storey splendor
The old CIM school - in its 3-storey splendor
A 3D "massing model" of how building sizes will integrate with the site
A 3D "massing model" of how building sizes will integrate with the site