HOK partners with USGBC on design of Haiti children's center

Passive design principles give form to a sustainable, restorative environment for the children of Haiti.

January 26, 2012

HOK is the U.S. Green Building Council's official design partner for Project Haiti, a facility targeting LEED Platinum certification that will replace a Port-au-Prince orphanage and children's center devastated by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that rocked Haiti and killed 316,000 people two years ago, on Jan. 12, 2010.

The project seeks to provide a safe, healthy home for the children who will occupy the Fondation Enfant Jesus orphanage and children's center. And it is a commitment of the Clinton Global Initiative, which convenes global leaders to create innovative solutions to the world's most urgent challenges.

The main three-story, L-shaped structure is organized around a central courtyard -- a focal point for the orphanage's social life. It is flanked by kitchen, dining and training spaces. The design responds to the dense urban condition and prevailing easterly trade winds by organizing all the spaces around a courtyard facing east. As with the vernacular "Gingerbread" style of Haiti, the building rises around this courtyard and features deep outdoor balconies.

The design of the building massing, orientation, openings and materials take full advantage of passive design principles to provide a healthy, comfortable environment. Building systems will require minimal maintenance and provide independence from the city's unreliable power grid. They will harness excess energy to power street lights and public charging stations on the street.

HOK's design team is integrating biomimicry to create a locally attuned and responsive building solution. The building references the local Kapok tree, both in the branching support system of the balcony system and the low emissivity, heat-shedding characteristics of its second skin.

The below-grade area will serve as the building's "roots," cleaning and storing water and recycling nutrients from waste into biogas for cooking. The first three stories will function as the structure's "trunk." Protecting the building like tree bark, a "boundary layer" will shield exterior walkways and vertical surfaces from direct sunlight while allowing for daylighting and natural ventilation. Rooftop gardens will serve as the "foliage," supporting the solar energy system and providing additional green space.

To view the renderings for the project, please visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hoknetwork/sets/72157628815703727/ BD+C

         
 

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