Bamboo Renewal : Designing a modern bamboo home in Haiti

Created by Swoon / The Heliotrope Foundation

Together with a village in rural Haiti, we will design and build a home that brings an ancient building material into the present.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

The incredible happiness in a job well done!
about 5 years ago – Mon, May 15, 2017 at 09:36:55 PM

Hello everyone!

I'm writing with a happy heart, fresh off the plane from Haiti. 

To recap, we’re in the finishing stages of a beautifully architected and engineered bamboo home for an extended family who lost loved ones to the earthquake.

Bamboo home built site in action.
Bamboo home built site in action.

The build process has employed large parts of the community in a rotating skills-building work crews.

Economically, what this means for Cormiers is that many many families can now do things like buy seeds for their farms, send their kids to school, repair their homes, as well as buy shoes, food, and clothing for their families.

Madame Louisana, the matriarch of the family is over the moon about her new home, and the security it will offer to her grand children when she passes on.

View of the kitchen structure with a pot of banana leaf tea boiling out front. Banana leaves are used to help improve the resilience of the lime plaster.
View of the kitchen structure with a pot of banana leaf tea boiling out front. Banana leaves are used to help improve the resilience of the lime plaster.

And, Klub Obzevetwa, our after school program has been loving their connection to the building of the house. Each week we have given them exercises related to structures, to bamboo, to decorative designs and other elements of our work, as well as frequently touring them through the build site to learn more about the stages of the process.

And this last trip I found that people are recognizing and appreciating what this house represents in terms of a re-learning of traditional building techniques with the extra breath of life given to them via modern engineering and tools. Yesterday someone said to me "The young generation is now now learning what their grandparents knew, but their parents forgot. People started to build everything out of cinder block, and we forgot the old ways. Now we see how unsafe the cinder blocks we use are, and we are re-learning the importance of the materials we have all around us."

Octavio and Joanna, our incredible architecture team from Oficina Design have bee there nearly three months, overseeing every aspect of the build to perfection, and making sure that their knowledge is passed on to our local crew.

Joanna answering kids questions at the build site, and a little drawing of architect Joanna made when we returned to club to discuss the kids recollections and what they learned.
Joanna answering kids questions at the build site, and a little drawing of architect Joanna made when we returned to club to discuss the kids recollections and what they learned.

I can’t even begin to explain what this means to me to be competing an arc of work started with a community 7 years ago. I am giddy with lightness.

We have one last week to go to make sure every last detail is buttoned up, and we’d love your help. We’re working on paying the final week of wages on the build site, making some repairs at the community center to keep it in good shape for the coming year, and buying some supplies for the after school program.

To make this happen we’ve created a space on our site to host the craft collaborations, as well as the most recent series of sketches I made of folks in Cormiers. I started the sketches series about 2 years ago, because I found that it was impossible to choose one subject for a portrait the way that I usually do. With Cormiers, there are so many beautiful people that I love so much, and I just wanted to draw everyone, so I started a new body of small works that’s just portraits from the village.

Thank you again to everyone who has believed in this project since the beginning, and has given us the support we need to do this deeply meaningful work. There’s a story woven in to every detail of it, and you are part of that story. So much gratitude is coming your way right now from our whole Heliotrope team, and most especially from every last person in Cormiers!

Sketch of Mamma Louisana embroidering the snake wall hanging.
Sketch of Mamma Louisana embroidering the snake wall hanging.

Here’s the link to the page if you'd like to help push us through the final week:

https://www.heliotropeprints.org/collections/haiti

And, one last note, a few of you are still waiting on your rewards — it’s been a slow journey on a couple of the items, but we haven’t forgotten you, we are still sending them a few at a time as they get completed. Thanks for your patience!!

And thank you for being a part of this with us!

Callie, 

and the Heliotrope Team

The build is underway...An update from the field by Callie
about 5 years ago – Thu, Mar 09, 2017 at 09:36:02 PM

Dear All,

With great joy, we have begun to build our bamboo home in Haiti. Architect Joana Torres and I arrived on February 20th, joining forces with the team in Cormiers. There's a lot of excitement in the air, and much to be done over the next few months.

Being back in Haiti is such a powerful experience and we have made tons of progress in just 8 days. From demolition of the old earthquake-damaged home, to leveling and clearing the site to make way for the new, to digging and pouring the foundation and receiving our bamboo…we are on a major roll!

Today at the build site, I noticed that the neighbors next door had begun repairing their roof. This is a new development since we arrived and it’s no small coincidence. This is the beneficial domino effect of our work here in Cormiers. With support from our Kickstarter community and friends around the world, we are hiring a rotating crew of local people to build the house, and we are sharing vital resources with the community at large. As a result, we are witnessing the broader impact of our efforts, from neighbors repairing their homes to families putting their kids back in school. It’s a life-changing experience!

Another lovely happening this past week was that I was able to guest teach the kids at Klub Obzevatwa, our after-school program in Haiti. Such a treat! Since this past week was Carnival, I just indulged and made the whole session about face painting. The kids went bonkers and we had so much fun.

No work that I’ve ever done before has had such a direct and positive impact on the lives of so many people. I’m really proud of our team, every person who has been on the ground here with us over the years and, most significantly, all of you who have been the jet fuel to our engine — thank you!

As we head into this next phase of building, introducing the bamboo, we’re excited to bring in an expert from Port Au Prince to help train the crew in modern earthquake and hurricane-safe construction methods using this ancient and sustainable material.To all who have joined us on our journey, we thank you once more.

Much love,

Callie

Our bamboo arriving on site.
Our bamboo arriving on site.

 

We are incorporating our Braddock tiles into the home design. So excited to combine two projects!
We are incorporating our Braddock tiles into the home design. So excited to combine two projects!

 

Mama Louisiana stitching one of her snake embroidery designs.
Mama Louisiana stitching one of her snake embroidery designs.

 

Bamboo construction in progress. Our crew is composed by carpenters, masons, painters and farmers, among others. Fascinating to see how each of their skillsets enhance this new challenge.
Bamboo construction in progress. Our crew is composed by carpenters, masons, painters and farmers, among others. Fascinating to see how each of their skillsets enhance this new challenge.

 

Face painting magic at Club Obzevatwa.
Face painting magic at Club Obzevatwa.

 

We break ground this month in Haiti & Cormiers Artisans are making their wares!
over 5 years ago – Wed, Feb 01, 2017 at 08:19:02 PM

Dear Backers,

We are excited to shared with you some news on our project. Preparations have been underway the past few weeks, and we will begin building Louisiana's bamboo home this month. Our architect, Joana Torres, has been communicating with the ground team in Haiti while she has been finalizing the structural details of her home design. Our bamboo was cut in late December, from a bamboo farm in Camp Perrin. Joana was extremely pleased that we were able to source Guadua bamboo, which is the best construction grade species. Our gratitude goes out to Franck, our bamboo assistant in Haiti, as well as Kaltia, one of the structural engineers. In January, the bamboo was transported to an area close to Cormiers where it was treated and stacked horizontally in a shaded and protected space until construction begins. Callie and Joana will both be arriving in Haiti on February 20th, the day when ground will be broken. For your enjoyment, we present a few images showing you the process of harvesting the bamboo.

Measuring and selecting bamboo to harvest.
Measuring and selecting bamboo to harvest.

 

Guadua bamboo being harvested in Camp Perrin
Guadua bamboo being harvested in Camp Perrin

 

 

Bamboo arranged in a latticework pattern to dry.
Bamboo arranged in a latticework pattern to dry.

 Additionally, we wanted to update you on rewards....those coveted handmade items you've all been waiting for...We have been actively shipping rewards over the past several weeks, and the process will continue in coming weeks as we continue to receive rolling shipments of goods from Haiti. The resounding success of our campaign means that a significant amount of work has been created for the craftspeople of Cormiers, which is just wonderful as they are able to earn money from making their creations. Vixon, Johnny, Getchnaida, Lousiana and the rest of the artists are fast at work, and we promise you will be receiving your rewards soon, if you haven't already.

 Lastly, there are still some of you who have yet to fill out your Backerkit survey we sent to you, which is necessary for fulfilling your reward. If you have any questions or need us to send this again, please feel free to send us a Kickstarter message and we'll be happy to assist.

We'll continue to send you updates along the way, and do follow our Instagram and Facebook pages if you aren't already. We post images and stories there, as well.

From all of us here, thanks again for being a part of this journey with us.

In peace and solidarity, the Heliotrope Team.

 

Happy New Year from Konbit Shelter!
over 5 years ago – Mon, Jan 02, 2017 at 07:59:36 PM

Hi friends --

Hope your new year is starting out right! With the the holidays behind us, we're moving into high gear shipping out rewards.

As promised, our goal is to ship our all rewards in January. The artisans we work with in Haiti have been shipping embroidery, carvings, combs, and the like over the past few months and we have a few more shipments coming in soon. 

A quick reminder: 20% of you have still not completed the BackerKit survey. Without the info in that survey, we can't ship your reward. Ever. Period. So fill it out! It takes 30 seconds. If you lost the link, go here to reset: https://konbit.backerkit.com/

If you have any questions, please contact us via Kickstarter, and we'll connect the dots.

We feel so blessed to have the support and enthusiasm of such a passionate community of people – thank you!

Finally, here's a quick holiday update from Michael, the head teacher in Club Obzevatwa, our after-school program in Cormiers:

Christmas in Cormiers
Christmas in Cormiers

Hello! I'm glad to present you the report of Club Obzèvatwa for this Friday 23rd, 2016. We started class today at 3:00 pm. We gave snack then we started to work. We talked about the story of Christmas and Father Santa. Then, we had the children say something about what Christmas means to them.

Lastly, the watched a movie. Then, we gave to them the presents that we have collected to buy for them.  The children were very happy!

Quick reminder: BackerKit Surveys
over 5 years ago – Mon, Dec 19, 2016 at 06:37:44 AM

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