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Healthy Homes to Reduce Disease Transmission in Haiti Winning Housing Designs to be Built This Year

New York, NY, January 12, 2011 --( One year after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, ARCHIVE (Architecture for Health In Vulnerable Environments) today reveals five “healthy homes” to be built in the country. These homes are especially designed to limit the transmission of tuberculosis, the second biggest infectious killer in Haiti after HIV/AIDS.

The designs are the winners of ARCHIVE's international open innovation project Kay e Sante nan Ayiti (Creole for “Housing and Health in Haiti”). ARCHIVE has received submissions from 147 design teams from 5 continents. The teams have worked across the disciplines and consist of architects, engineers, health workers, and development specialists.

ARCHIVE seeks to demonstrate the importance of health considerations in home design and construction. The five winning designs showcase many innovative ideas for improving the health of the local population. The designs are also sensitive to the economic and cultural environment in which the homes will be built, being replicable and inexpensive, utilizing local building materials, and employing indigenous construction techniques and practices wherever possible.

The houses to be built are:

Breathe House – designed by USA and UK team
Maison Canopy – USA
Shutter Dwelling – Italy
Bois l’Etat – USA
Cycle House – Dominican Republic

These designs will now inform the construction of housing units in the eastern coastal town of Saint-Marc in the Artibonite region. ARCHIVE will be building the houses for members of Foundation Esther Boucicault Stanislas (FEBS), a community organization dedicated to providing access to medicine and improving the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS in the region. This local involvement ensures the competition fulfils a pre-existing housing need, and enables an understanding of how designs and interventions can make a difference among the most vulnerable to disease.

Esther Boucicault, Founder of FEBS, says: “In Haiti, people living with HIV/AIDS continue to be victims of severe stigma and discrimination. They are rejected by society and even their families. Many become homeless. This makes them even more susceptible to infectious diseases like tuberculosis, which is already a serious problem amongst our members. In a society where disease is so much a sign of poverty and where support is so lacking, ARCHIVE's housing project will improve our members' living conditions and provide them with a crucial base from which they can begin to rebuild healthier lives.”

Peter Williams, Founder of ARCHIVE, comments: "We certainly hope to facilitate the building of more housing units based on the outcome of our project. Our approach will be community-driven, and this means we will continue to work with local residents, to listen to their views, and to get them involved in the building process. We believe this approach will empower them to adopt healthy housing principles that impact on both their health and their ability to reverse the cycles of poverty."

Haiti has the highest TB infection rate in the Americas. After the earthquake, the risk of disease increased as many TB patients saw their care and treatment interrupted. Residents displaced from the quake-stricken capital Port-au-Prince fled to Saint-Marc, causing overcrowding and placing severe strains on the city's infrastructure.

Peter comments: “What has sadly been overlooked even prior to the earthquake is how housing improvements can address the root causes of poor health. We hope our project will empower Haitians in rebuilding 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.”

The 5 winning designs and the remaining 15 finalists were selected in two rounds by an interdisciplinary panel of judges. Entries were judged on replicability, use of local materials, prioritization of health challenges, sustainable design (e.g. alternative energy source, water harvesting, etc.), adherence to budget, climatic and seismic compatibility, and local vernacular.

Peter adds: “We want to set an exemplar for building health globally by encouraging dialogue across disciplines. Our project has brought together individuals from diverse geographic, cultural, and professional backgrounds. Through our experience we hope to build a taxonomy of best practices that can be locally adapted to suit emerging challenges as they relate to living conditions and health.

“Our project has received tremendous interest from around the world. We extend our warmest thanks to all the registered participants for their time, interest, and commitment. We’d also like to thank our 19 judges for contributing their time, experience, and expertise in assessing the entries. This project would not have been possible without our volunteers; so by no means least, I would like to thank our ARCHIVE teams in the US and UK for their unrelenting and tireless dedication over the past year.”

More information on the winners and the finalists can be found on the ARCHIVE website

The winning entries will also be shown in traveling exhibitions this year, information on which will be available this spring.

Contact Information
Maria di Fonzo

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