Passive design principles in LEED Platinum orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti by HOK
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 centre devastated by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that rocked Haiti and killed 316,000 people two years ago, on 12th January, 2010.
The project seeks to provide a safe, healthy home for the children who will occupy the Fondation Enfant Jesus Orphanage and Children’s Centre. 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 challenge - to design, build and operate a highly sustainable project that will help these Haitian children - is an amazing opportunity,” said HOK Director of Sustainable Design Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C. “We are creating a replicable, living textbook of sustainable design tailored to the Haitian culture that we hope will influence the future of architecture in the region.”
The main three-story, L-shaped structure is organised 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 organising 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.
“Our goal is to create a nurturing and restorative place,” said HOK’s Thomas Knittel, AIA, LEED AP, design leader in the firm’s Seattle studio. “We are striving for net zero water and waste, and for the building to provide a net positive energy source.” To guarantee a safe water supply, HOK’s team designed a closed-loop system that collects, treats and stores water on the site. A biodigester will treat the waste and provide gas for cooking.
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.
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.