Company Towns Revisited: Historic Typologies As A Model For Growth

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Location: Petit Paradis, Haiti. Seaside area of northern Haiti

The project is part of an independently selected thesis design in two parts, one written and the other graphic. In the course, students are asked to choose a project that will explore a new approach to architectural design issues in either a theoretical situation or as part of an actual site. After proposing a thesis topic, a student develops his or her argument in a written format prior to offering solutions in the form of a design.

The prupose of this approach is to explore all the possible scenarios, restrictions, precedents, and counterarguments prior to committing oneself to a given design. In the professional realm of architecture, projects are begun as part of a written contract with given expectations about scope and specifications that are developed in a relationship between a client and his or her architect. For the written portion of the thesis project, the student must play the role of both the client and the architect under the guidance of a thesis advisory committee.

After carefully crafting an argument and supporting it through facts, precedent, and theory the student is asked to begin working his or her way through possible designs that further support the argument. Design media may include physical or digital modeling, pencil or ink renderings, watercolor washes, or any other approach that strengthens the thesis statement. Students are encouraged to establish a solid understanding through diagramming the site and building(s) before additional massing and articulations studies. The final stages of the graphic portion consist of preparations for a public defense of the thesis project.

Project Type:
Design for a new town in northern Haiti

Description: A new company town based upon the Spanish Laws of the Indies (1592).

Characteristics: A city for 5,000 people to be built on a traditional grid with emphasis on a primary town square. As a company town, one of the fundamental aspects is development of economic and social stability through an established industry.

Building Types: Three types of affordable housing (dormitories, apartments, and single-family houses), a town hall, a church, school buildings, live-work units, medical facilities, and a factory.

Principal Issues:

Civil Unrest:
Haiti is a country that has been plagued by dictators, revolutions, and urban violence for centuries. Fostering a stable civil environment is a paramount concern.

Natural Disasters: Haiti is particularly susceptible to hurricanes, earthquakes, and mudslides. In 2004, Tropical Storm Jeanne caused five deaths in the United States as a Hurricane and 3,006 deaths in Haiti as a Tropical Storm. This disparity can largely be attributed to a lack of resources. Residents must burn wood for fuel, which has led to deforestation, and mudslides are the eventual result.

Poverty and Disease: Haiti is amongst the poorest countries in the world, and most citizens rely on a small family farms for sustenance. Elephantitis is a wide spread disease that typically occurs in underdeveloped countries. With proper medical care, it is preventable.

Design Challenge:

To foster civil and economic stability through the establishment of a company town and support programs. By introducing a salt factory and citrus groves, the town would have two viable industries to provide employment for members of the community. The project focuses on local traditions for planning and architecture as a solution to the issues.

Read more at this project's website.

Transect Zone(s): T1 preserve, T2 reserve, T3 sub-urban, T4 general, T5 center, T6 core.
Status: Proposed
Project or Plan's Scale: Town
Features: Affordable/subsidized housing, Civic buildings & parks, Mixed uses, Sustainable infrastructure.
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Civic uses (type and size): parks, ballfields, community gardens,
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Project team designers: Univ. of Notre Dame architecture student, Brian Morales; Univ. of Notre Dame thesis advisor, Fr. Richard Bullene
Project team developers: NA

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: -