Funded! This project was successfully funded on January 1, 2013.

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A creative, sustainable building project sharing knowledge and resources through the creation of homes and community spaces in Haiti.

We just uploaded a new video! For more of the Konbit story, visit our first video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIzR579-WIk&feature=youtu.be

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Konbit Shelter is building creative, safe, beautiful, and sustainable homes for Haitian families in the continuing aftermath of the earthquake of 2010 and Hurricane Sandy.

Community center under construction: This style of architecture requires no scaffolding or heavy machinery to build, and can be learned by everyone on the community.
Community center under construction: This style of architecture requires no scaffolding or heavy machinery to build, and can be learned by everyone on the community.

We believe that beauty, soulfulness, and innovation have a place in the reconstruction of communities after a disaster.

In January 2013, we will begin our third construction, a house for Avelia Louis and her family, which includes three (insanely adorable!) kids. Part of an ongoing relationship between a small group of artists, architects, engineers and builders in the United States, and small rural village in Haiti, this house will bring into fruition all of the knowledge and insights that have been gathered over the past two years of building together with residents of Cormiers. 

We started with the idea that artists might have something distinct and powerful to contribute to the rebuilding process, and we have created two unique structures -- a community center, and a one family home, out of this  philosophy. 



A very weary Kt Tierney outside of the community center, with Herbi and Pierre, whose house is to be built in January
A very weary Kt Tierney outside of the community center, with Herbi and Pierre, whose house is to be built in January

With this third construction, we will be using earth-bag architectural techniques for their resilience against natural disasters of all kinds, and reliance on locally available resources. The building process will continue the skill-share relationship that has grown up around our previous constructions, and, in the process, bring much needed jobs to people in the village. The home that we create together with Avelia, will be an inventive, light-filled, craftsmanly construction that will involve the sculptors, masons, carpenters, and other interested folks of Cormiers. 

Hand Carved windows and awnings, high ceilings, and unique architectural details like welded barrel frame windows and radial ceiling scaffoldings are what makes these houses artist collaborations. Drawing on, and adapting the tradition of earth-bag and super-adobe building is what makes these houses a step in the evolution of sustainable earth bag technology, tailored specifically to Haiti's tropical climate. 

Ceiling view of Monique's house, built in 2011, with vaulted ceiling design, and decorative, built in painters scaffold.
Ceiling view of Monique's house, built in 2011, with vaulted ceiling design, and decorative, built in painters scaffold.

At the end of this third construction, an illustrated booklet will be created in Creole and English, to share with people in Haiti, and internationally, the techniques and adaptations that have been accrued through our work. 

Swoon's "Walki", portrait of a young boy from Cormiers.
Swoon's "Walki", portrait of a young boy from Cormiers.

Our funding will go primarily toward buying materials and employing our build crew in Cormiers, and secondarily to getting the Konbit team organized and out there. Plus maybe 5 bucks to buy extra glitter for the art workshops at the community center to celebrate when we’re all done.... 

Glitter mayhem, art workshops, Konbit community center.
Glitter mayhem, art workshops, Konbit community center.
Community Center by night. Upper windows were created by welding beautiful patterns into recycled steel metal drum configurations.
Community Center by night. Upper windows were created by welding beautiful patterns into recycled steel metal drum configurations.

It’s been a big effort that so many people have been a part of in large and small ways. We’d love to have you on board for this next leg of the journey.

Thank-you!

"Thalassa" silk screen on found wood with hand painting and paper cut layers, by Swoon
"Thalassa" silk screen on found wood with hand painting and paper cut layers, by Swoon
Stone Carvings made by local sculptors of Cormiers.
Stone Carvings made by local sculptors of Cormiers.
Fellow Konbit creator Ben Wolf, hand painted unique screen print by Swoon.
Fellow Konbit creator Ben Wolf, hand painted unique screen print by Swoon.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Konbit Shelter began with the idea of sharing the style of earth-bag dome architecture designed and engineered by Iranian born architect Nadir Khalili, who spent the last 20 years of his life tackling the problem of housing for vulnerable populations around the world.
Our idea has been to harness our resources and creativity to share a body of knowledge that will be useful to families across the region in post-earthquake rebuilding. Aware of the pitfalls of dependency often created by international aid programs, we strive to create a situation in which we can cross pollinate our ideas with local ingenuity, customs, and building styles -- ultimately leading to a hybrid architecture which takes the best of these available building systems, and creates something safe, beautiful and affordable, that Haitian families can construct on their own, without the need of outside assistance or resources.
One of the biggest technical challenges to this goal has been the cost of building materials. In Leogane Haiti, $8 gets you one bag of cement, while $7-10 is commonly a days wage. In community meetings, when we have asked what works and what doesn’t about the structures, people have said that the buildings are great houses and community spaces, light-filled and cool year round, but that despite utilizing a style developed for it’s affordability, these homes are still out of the economic reach of a rural family.
Our goal in building this third house is to tackle this challenge head on by looking into other styles of earth-bag building that utilize less cement, and hew more closely to local housing styles, while continuing our commitment to making bright, inventive structures that incorporate local craftsmanship and creativity.

FAQ

  • We will start making plans for another structure, and laying the groundwork for continuing on this coming spring and fall.

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  • Not really. Each structure that Konbit build is a benefit to the community in multiple ways. First: we are constructing seriously sturdy homes. We have seen many plywood shacks, and many houses built of the same cinderblock that collapsed during the earthquake being built in the last couple of years. We want to do something different, and build houses in a style that, while it is energy intensive, is made to last. Second: jobs. These houses are hard work to build, and we are able to employ many people in the process. This has been an important boon to the community of Cormiers. Third: creativity. Each house is a labor of love, is created with it’s own unique details, and employs the skills of many dedicated craftspeople in the area. We are not an NGO creating a quick fix. We are a long-term community focused effort, bringing our heart and soul into everything we do, and this requires resources.

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  • Konbit is a wonderful Haitian word for when people come together to help each other out. Like a barn-raising, or a cooperative effort to collect the harvest of one farmer when it’s too much for his family to do alone. We love this word and want to use it in an international context, for this moment, right now, when people of the world come together to help their neighbors in Haiti rebuild after devastation.

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  • We have made a printable gift certificate, just download it of of our updates page, or contact us to email you a copy.

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    An E-Thank You from all of us at the Konbit Shelter Project, including stories, images and updates.

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    Link to film: HAITI REDUX: a study on post catastrophe reconstruction This hour long documentary examines how social entrepreneurs, NGOs, government officials and community leaders are collaborating to help restore and construct sustainable communities with infrastructure that is primed for growth and prosperity. by Fredric King

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    Painted postcard, personalized to you, created by kids in Cormiers, during after-school art workshops at the community center.

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    3 Konbit Shelter radial logo patches on denim. See image here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/konbitkickstarter/sets/72157632326979668/

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    Hand screen Printed Bandanna, designed by the artist Swoon, for Konbit Shelter

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    Paper cut-out. Delicate laser cut decorative element, designed by Swoon. See images here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/konbitkickstarter/sets/72157632326977958/

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    Link to film HAITI REDUX: a study in post disaster reconstruction, and, a copy of the DVD "Before Z" A one-of-a-kind learning experience! Each letter is a one-minute comedy sketch by the acclaimed performance artist Shannon Plumb. For children of all ages.

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    Beautiful hand silk screen-printed T-Shirt, created in the community print shop in Braddock, Pennsylvania.

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    Unique, Hand carved stone sculptures created by artists from the village of Cormiers, Haiti

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    Ceramic grab bag! Beautiful hand thrown ceramics made by ceramicist, artist, and Konbit Shelter lead builder/designer Kt Tierney

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    Skype consultation with members of Konbit Shelter. Interested in earth-bag building? In the cross pollination of the creative process with community activism? Fun with creative construction in general? Members of the Konbit shelter team will share ideas and give advice on your endeavors.

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    Swoon's "Walkie", a three-layer screen print on hand made, hand stained, heavy weight Jute paper. Paper size 13"x21", signed in an edition of 300.

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    Photograph of residents of Cormiers by photographer and Konbit Shelter organizer Tod Seelie. Image size 25"x16.5"; photo paper size 20"x30"; edition of 6. Preview the image here: http://todseelie.com/konbitshelter2/content/_MG_9880_large.html

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    "Irina" Screen print with coffee staining and hand embroidery. From an edition of 55. See image here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/konbitkickstarter/8301661599/in/set-72157632326981400/

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    "35 degrees" artwork/construction by KT Tierny. Reclaimed lath board, wood, and nails, dimensions: 48x84. See image here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/konbitkickstarter/sets/72157632323124259/

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    Swoon's "Ben" screen print on hand made, hand stained, heavy weight Jute paper. Finished with hand painting and sewing. From a 2012 edition of 36 signed unique variants. Paper size around 33" x 28".

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    "Walki", full-scale two color screen print with hand painting and cutting, collaged onto wood. This piece, part of the "Walki" series, is one of a kind. Dimensions 19.5" x 9.25" Images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/konbitkickstarter/sets/72157632286200647/ For more information about this image contact Kristine@swoonstudio.org

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    SOLD OUT "Walki", full-scale two color screen print with hand painting and cutting, collaged onto aged wood with metal detail. This piece, part of the "Walki" series, is one of a kind. Dimensions 23.5"x 12" x 3" Images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/konbitkickstarter/8288402359/in/set-72157632286198305/ For more information about the image contact Kristine@swoonstudio.org

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    "Walki", full-scale two color screen print with hand painting and cutting, collaged onto aged wood with structural details. This piece, part of the "Walki" series, is one of a kind. Dimensions 31.5" x 17" x 1.5" Images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/konbitkickstarter/8288391857/in/set-72157632290235880/ For more information about the image contact Kristine@swoonstudio.org

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    SOLD OUT - "Thalassa" screen-print on found wood with collaged paper-cuts and hand painting. Unique variant from a series of 38. Dimensions approximately 15"x36" See images here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/konbitkickstarter/sets/72157632323120201/

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    "Walki", full-scale two color screen print with hand painting and cutting, collaged onto wooden cabinet door with glass doorknob and hinges. This piece, part of the "Walki" series, is one of a kind. Dimensions 28"x16" Images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/konbitkickstarter/8288385235/in/set-72157632290245932/ For more information about the image contact Kristine@swoonstudio.org

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    Visit to the prototype earth-bag dome in North Braddock Pennsylvania, tour of construction style and process, (as well as the history of Braddock), and special Bed and Breakfast stay in Pittsburgh.

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