The 2014 Haiti Summer Studio was organized by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), Howard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in partnership with Mercy Outreach Ministry International. The project and associated design studio grew from the 2011 Haiti Ideas Challenge Competition that included a project brief focused on developing design ideas to permanently rebuild infrastructure, cities and neighborhoods that were devastated by Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. The Haiti Summer Studio 2014 was challenged with designing solutions for the particular community of Petite-Rivière-de-Nippes. Students visited the town, and communicated one-on-one with the residents, entrepreneurs, government officials, and NGOs, to develop an understanding of the daily workings of the community as well as to document its existing conditions and infrastructure. The studio aimed to develop designs that could be constructed, efficiently used, and maintained by local individuals in Petite-Rivière-de-Nippes.
Ten students, accompanied by four advisors and the founder of Mercy Outreach Ministry International, traveled from the United States to Haiti. On the ground, students from Haiti’s architecture school at Université GOC aided the group. An eclectic mix of students from the US with varied international backgrounds interacted with numerous Haitian students over the two-week visit. Various methods of documentation and observation were used to help thoroughly understand the present conditions in Petite-Rivière-de-Nippes, such as the limits of existing infrastructure and planning efforts, the nature of education and entrepreneurial activity, local customs and culture, and the needs and desires of residents and government officials in the community. The final work of the studio ranged from considering various growth-pattern scenarios for the community, to design for a market, to designs for a media center and a farming co-op. These were developed and designed collaboratively among studio participants in order to achieve a comprehensive and integrated proposal for the town of Petite-Rivière-de-Nippes.