The AA VS Bamboo Lab Haiti 2017 design course was the fifth workshop conducted in Haiti by the Architectural Association School of Architecture. This programme looks to create a synthesis between cutting edge architectural design tools and the local bamboo species. This can expose the latent potential of bamboo as a catalyst for sustainable development and safe building practices in Haiti, where this portfolio can have the most potent impact. Haiti suffers from serious deforestation and unsafe building practices and the agenda of the Architectural Association VS Bamboo Lab has been to look at using bamboo and architectural design to tackle these head on.
The goal for this year was to design and construct a range of small infrastructural interventions on the Wynne Farm Ecological Reserve, in Kenscoff to the south of Port au Prince. These projects were to be greenhouses, plant nurseries and sheltering pavilions all that could build the capacity of the Wynne Farm to receive visitors and aid in the reforestation efforts. However in the end there was a high degree of freedom for participants to explore various scales and programmes.
Students used cutting edge software to develop projects for the climatic threats facing Haiti. Subsequently, this has been given greater significance, following the near misses from hurricanes Irma and Maria, with wind speeds close to 225mph, only 25mph short of the 250mph (80 m/s) we simulated in the class. Applying these computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations to the students’ computer models gives students the real-time ability to refine their designs to reduce drag and identify elements of the design which cause a build-up of pressure.
The first design challenge is to use this process to refine the design aerodynamically, whilst not compromising on programmatic performance. The pressure data from the CFD testing can be translated to kN per sqm and tested using Karamba. This finite element analysis (FEA) tool for Grasshopper gives participants the ability to see what the effect of this wind pressure would be on the structure. The material properties of bamboo can be applied to the structural model, in which the wall thickness and diameter of the poles can be optimized, concurrently within the limitations of available bamboo species in Haiti. Questions can then be addressed such as: Which areas of the structure should be redesigned? What is the minimum wall thickness or diameter of bamboo to use? Which species? Or how should we orientate the project onsite?
Karamba was able to assist us with all of these questions and open up new design opportunities, working with the constraints of local bamboo species such as Guadua angustifolia and phyllostachys Makinoi. It is clear that this can never replace an engineer, but we hope these computational tools can help the designer to discover new questions which can be brought to the conversation with an engineer from MTPTC (Ministère des Travaux Publics, Transports et Communications).
For a period of four days, we left our studio at Quisqueya University and ventured up into the clouds, on top of the mountains of Kenscoff, at the Wynne Farm Ecological Reserve, an institution at the forefront of ecological restoration in Haiti, and this became our bamboo workshop.
The curriculum has been tailored to be relevant to Haiti and with the physical bamboo workshop infrastructure at the Wynne Farm along with a trained team of carpenters from previous workshops now taking on teaching roles, the work and conversation will continue. The global applicability of the AA VS Bamboo Lab research in Haiti will be developed at our next course in Myanmar in November 2017.
Text and Images by AA Visiting School
AA Visiting School Director: Christopher Pierce
AAVS Bamboo Lab Programme Lead: John Osmond Naylor
2017 Teaching team: John Osmond Naylor, Doria Reyes Cordova, Nancy Leconte, Franck Vendryes, Jane Wynne, Narcisse Barlande, Fedeme LaGuerre
Coordination team: John Osmond Naylor, Doria Reyes Cordova, Nancy Leconte, Franck Vendryes, Jane Wynne, Diego Perez Espitia, Rose Di Sarno, Aditya Aachi, Nathalie Jolivert, Sarah Day, Melissa Day, Mark Ouwehand, Andrea Ghaddar, Dorotea Petrucci, Jolene Malek, Patricia Camilien, Regine Fabius
Students: Emmanuel Junior Polycarpe, Ignacio Andres Mejia Zubillaga, Lazarre Pierre-Louis, Thierry Museau, Jean-Widny Lordeus, Yves Joseph Dosier, Eder Guerrier, Max Webster Joseph, Shnight-Dy Azilien, Mike Charles, Wadsonne Leonel, Marie Kenia Nicolas, Jean Sebastien Malebranche, Kendy Saintilaire, Jupille Facile, Snard Sam Populaire, and Junior Nelson
Partner institutions: University Quisqueya, and Wynne Farm Ecological Reserve
Sponsors: Gardiner and Theobald, Foster and Partners, Ian Ritchie Architects, Karamba, Acra Industries, Voyages Lumiere, Aetypik, British Embassy Port au Prince, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, JP Productions, and the World Bamboo Organisation