A Multi-Hazard-Resilient Residential Housing Model for Haiti: Rebuilding Communities and Livelihoods through Sustainable Partitioning

University of Notre Dame, 2010 - $42,480

The failure of urban housing was the primary source of fatalities during the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Haitian urban construction practice uses mildly reinforced, undersized concrete columns and masonry infill walls using hand-pressed bricks called Cement Masonry Units (CMUs). Historically, buildings using CMUs perform well under the strong winds common to the Caribbean but experienced catastrophic collapses in the January 2010 earthquake. Even if the size and reinforcement of columns were increased in rebuilding efforts, the continued widespread use of CMUs would still pose a significant seismic risk in future events.

This team, which includes advisors from the Gigot Center/Business School, is developing a new housing paradigm for Haiti with the capacity to withstand the dual threat of hurricanes and earthquakes. The specific focus is on a new sustainable partitioning system for housing called Vèt Miray (Creole for “Green Wall”). Using mechanically processed local agricultural waste products, Vèt Miray has the potential to not only significantly alleviate the risk posed by CMUs, but also address other Haitian societal issues related to waste disposal and economic opportunity by providing a new green industry to the region.