Thom Mayne, Distinguished Professor / Eui-Sung Yi, NOW Institute Director
Course: 403C.1 Research Studio
The Haiti Now Project, proposed by Distinguished Professor Thom Mayne, Now Institute Director Eui-Sung Yi and UCLA Architecture and Urban Design, asks what urban planners and architects can do in post-disaster reconstruction Haiti. Our role is not within the first responder tier; however, the long-term recovery and reconstruction of Haiti depends on integrative and multi-layered strategies that consider the built, social and cultural fabric of the country.
CULTURAL RECONSTRUCTION The Now Institute approaches this scenario with the question – what native resource can be employed to be a long-term engine and authenticator of the rebuilding effort in Haiti?
CULTURAL OPPORTUNITY The fortification of culture yields the opportunity for coupling it with strategically identified needs. One possibility links the richness and creativity of the Haitian arts and crafts culture with a strategy for improved access and quality of basic education. A radically Haitian embodiment of an institution of higher learning is another opportunity, which attempts to understand and stave the alarming departure of educated graduates from the country. A macro strategy for improved international recognition and domestic income generation suggests the development of an eco-cultural tourist experience that credits Haiti’s fragmented rural infrastructure with protecting and preserving the Caribbean’s last remaining virgin beaches. The umbrella theme of culture, as opposed to a singular elemental product or checklist, is rich with opportunities for locally accepted propositions for stable, healthy development beyond simple reconstruction.
CULTURAL RESILIENCE The final aspiration of any post-disaster strategy is the maturation of the affected region into a resilient society. Resilience, the ability to guard against or absorb the effects of hazards and risks, is a product of complex social, infrastructural and economic factors. In Haiti, the absence of many typical commodities and services again highlights the role of culture as a vital force in developing future resilience against disaster.