About this project
Update: Note to international bidders: to control shipping costs, we've limited shipping of some items to the United States. If you're elsewhere and want to pledge, contact us and we'll give you a shipping estimate.
We are collaborating with the people of Cormiers, Haiti to build a modern bamboo house for a local family. This structure is also a communal work of art and architecture – it will involve local teachers, farmers, artists, architects, and school kids in every aspect of its creation.
Last month, Hurricane Matthew brought more destruction to a place that has already suffered so much. As Haiti disappears from the daily headlines, the need for long-term economic recovery only grows. Please join us in providing good jobs and building something beautiful.
About Konbit Shelter
Konbit Shelter was started by artist Caledonia Curry (Swoon) after the devastating 2010 earthquake. In the months after the quake our team of artists, architects, engineers, and builders worked with locals to create a disaster-resilient community center for the village.
Together, we went on to construct two single-family homes that combined traditional materials with modern building technologies, and that were crafted with careful attention to detail, form, and light.
About the bamboo house
We want to continue this collaboration with the community by building a third house, this time using bamboo. The house is for Louisiana Pierre Louis and her family of five. Louisana lost her son and daughter-in-law in the earthquake, and their surviving children (Louisiana’s grandchildren) left Port Au Prince to come live with her in Cormiers.
When the community conducted a survey to determine which houses had sustained the most damage, and who was least able to repair or rebuild, Louisana and her family were chosen to receive the bamboo house as a part of Konbit Shelter’s long-running earthquake reconstruction and community building efforts.
But the house will be much more than a dwelling. It will also be a multifaceted work of art and social architecture made with and for the local community — a structure built on relationships that is designed to bring bamboo as a building technology into the new millennium.
This year, we worked with farmers in Cormiers to help them realize their vision of planting crops of a super-strong variety of bamboo called Angustifolia Kunth (sometimes referred to as “vegetable steel”). They plan to use bamboo as a way to prevent erosion on hillsides, as food for their cattle, as a cash crop — and as a building material.
Since it takes up to 12 years to become strong enough to be used for construction, the bamboo for this house will be sourced from nearby farms outside of Cormiers. But we hope that the house will serve as a model for how local bamboo can be used in creative and functional ways, expanding people’s imaginations about the possibilities for this crop.
While we were building the community center in 2010, we started to bring in art supplies and began running drawing classes for local kids. Their interest in, and enthusiasm for, not only art but also the construction process led us to the realization that we should create more lasting structures to involve Cormiers’ younger residents in our work. So we partnered with teachers in Cormiers to start the Klub Obzevetwa after-school program in 2014.
Each week, Klub Obzevetwa teachers introduce 30-40 local kids to arts, crafts, and building design concepts. We see this as a way to become even more intentional in our work — to slow down, listen to the community, remain connected, get to know people better over time, and have fun together. While we build the bamboo house, the students in Klub Obzevetwa will have a chance to work with us and learn about bamboo architecture, home design, and town planning. If a building can be an artwork and a model of possibility, we think it can be a teaching tool, too!
About the rewards
We are excited to connect you with the incredible creative energy of this region. Almost a dozen artists and craftspeople, many of whom who are also guest teachers at Klub Obzevetwa, have been working with us over the past six months to create rewards for this campaign.
We are proud that the rewards offer tangible economic benefit to the community in two ways: first by providing jobs to local craftspeople who are working to create the pieces, and second, by cycling the money generated from these pieces back into the community through the construction of the house and the job and training opportunities it will provide. We are drawing on a rich tradition of woodcarving, beadwork, stone sculpture, hat making, embroidery, and crochet.
Some of the rewards were designed by artist Caledonia Curry (Swoon), some were designed by local artists, and others were collaborations — but every reward is a labor of love.
Risks and challenges
Building projects have so many variables, and working with a new material in a post-hurricane climate is sure to be challenging.
For us, this is a project with a clear start and end date. We have worked with this community to build three structures in the past, and so we have a great deal of confidence in our team and in our ability to persevere even when obstacles arise and things get complicated.
Making and shipping handmade crafts from Haiti is also challenging. Sometimes things get lost or broken in transit, so patience is required. Each gift is hand made, so some variations are to be expected.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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