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Bamboo Lakou envisions a sustainable future for Haiti


June 27, 2013

The Bamboo Lakou proposal calls for sustainably-sourced bamboo to be used to jump-start a new infrastructure for Haiti (Image: John Naylor)

The Bamboo Lakou proposal calls for sustainably-sourced bamboo to be used to jump-start a new infrastructure for Haiti (Image: John Naylor)

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Architectural Association School of Architecture student John Naylor has envisioned a new and sustainable future for suburbs of Haiti's capital Port au Prince, following the earthquake which devastated the country three years ago. Dubbed "Bamboo Lakou," Naylor's proposal calls for sustainably-sourced bamboo to be used to jump-start the creation of a new infrastructure which is wholly Haitian in character.

Due to heavy deforestation over the last century, there is a distinct lack of timber in Haiti, so energy-intensive concrete is typically the only building material available. However, Naylor's proposal calls for bamboo to be used as a sustainable, affordable, and tough alternative building material.

Rather than introduce a new type of dwelling to the country, Naylor's proposal suggests that bamboo buildings be designed in the "Lakou" style local to the area, which sees several family homes surround one central courtyard. In this way, Naylor hopes to win support for the use of bamboo from locals, who the architect says are often reluctant to adopt new building methods.

Naylor's renders depict bamboo being split and offset into halves to build a floor surface. The bamboo could also be joined together in a grid to create a building facade, and sealed with tar when used as a roofing material. These methods and others like them could be used to create Lakou courtyard residences, market places, commercial centers and other much-needed buildings.

However, the bamboo-based construction only forms part of Naylor's vision, which would see new trees of many types being grown on a large scale in Haiti, providing the country with a renewable source of timber in future years. This would hopefully go some way toward repairing the damage to the landscape caused by deforestation.

It's early days yet, and there's not a great deal of detail on how every aspect of the design could be carried out. Still, if Naylor's vision is realized, perhaps it could offer an opportunity to retrain local craftsmen in new building methods, and provide a more sustainable future for Haiti in years to come.

Source: John Naylor via Design Boom

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

It is a nice idea but to improve Haiti you need to fix their leadership first.


and educate their population and give them the wanting to do so.

Matthew Adams

Interesting concept. I would also suggest buildings made of hempcrete. Growing hemp in the country would not only provide building materials but all sorts of other marketable products. As for the lime for hempcrete, Gonave Island is basically pure limestone. Quarries could provide catch basins for fresh water in the future. I also like the village design but would also suggest adapting the Chinese Hakka walled village design for perhaps more commercial applications. Either way I totally encourage all things build round for the weather resistance. As for getting started in Haiti. The real kick start would be for the US or someone to pay a few of the leading families to sell all their land and leave. There is little land in Haiti that is not owned by but a few families.

Gary Tucker

nice idea, but until you get rid of the graft and corruption you will still have the same problems that you do today.

Doug Doyle
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