Sorg Architects releases images of new staff housing for the US Embassy in Haiti
US-based, international designers Sorg Architects, the firm behind over 250 projects in the US and abroad, has designed new, sustainable, staff housing for the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Construction will begin in March 2012 and is scheduled to be completed in January 2014.
The Sorg project consists of 107 new townhouse units and a new Deputy Chief of Mission residence, along with support facilities, including a recreation centre with an outdoor pool and basketball and tennis courts. The townhouses are large and range from three to five bedroom units. The inspiration for the design is derived from the local Haitian culture and is modelled after the Cubist forms of the ‘Bidonvilles’ (clustered houses hugging the hillside). The bold, colourful forms and materials commonly found in local art, such as brightly coloured metals inspire the materials used in the new housing units.
The exteriors of the new housing are harmonious with the diverse terrain and existing landscape of Port-au-Prince. Exterior finishes primarily consist of cement plaster finish and accent horizontal aluminum panel cladding. Aluminum-framed glazing systems, doors, and windows will be shaded by a sunshade system of overhangs and trellises.
Seismic design is an important aspect of the Haiti housing compound structures given that this project is in a seismic category D area. The lateral force resisting system will have an emphasis on capacity and simplicity and consist of special reinforced masonry shear walls. The layout of the lateral force resisting system will conform to the OBO adopted code.
Sustainability measures have been considered in the development of the conceptual design and include both passive and active features to offset demands on the limited local infrastructure and onsite generation. As a guideline, the USGBC LEED for Homes checklist was used to establish criteria for sustainable design and as a basis for developing appropriate systems and strategies for residential unit development.
Sustainable elements include: the use of plant materials that are native or adapted to Port-au-Prince and that are suited to the site conditions; the preservation of existing vegetation where practical and the planting of new trees that will shade buildings and paving to reduce the heat island effect; and the treatment of wastewater in an on-site wastewater treatment facility and the use of a sand filtration system, located in an underground cistern, for automatic site irrigation.