Construction site

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The building site has been thought and organised in a continuous collaboration with the local workers; in this way it has been possible to define project details in progress to get as close as possible to the local necessities.

  1. Introduction
  2. Ground Preparation
  3. Foundations and Crawlspace
  4. Flooring for the Anti-Seismic Platform
  5. Manufacture of Bricks
  6. Houses construction
  7. Wooden roof building
  8. Roof coverage

1. Introduction

During the construction period, which lasted a little over a year, 5 to 40 local workers were employed in alternate phases. There were language problems, as Spanish was used to communicate with the Dominican suppliers, and the basics of the Creole language were used to give instructions to the Haitian workers.

Cement and sand, needed for the construction of the anti-seismic platform and for the bricks of the houses, were instead found in the Cabo Rojo quarry, 25 km from Pedernales.

1 / 2 – Capo Rojo
2 / 2 – Santo Domingo

Frequent customs problems for the passage of material from the Dominican Republic to Haiti slowed down the progress of the work, and, especially in the last period, since the trucks did not have permission to cross the border, it often became necessary to carry the materials from one side of the border to the other by hand.

Truck unloading sand in between borders

Moreover, the frequent interruption of power supply and the old and worn machinery available, therefore subject to continuous failures, further slowed down all the work.

Failure of one of the best generators available
Cement mixer from the 1970s

Therefore, it was necessary to manufacture all the components necessary for the construction by having them custom-made by local artisans at the construction site or in the vicinity, except for wood, cement and sand.

Plates for the base of the roof’s wooden columns

This handicraft process took longer, but each time it had the advantage of being able to adapt the various components of the construction to the specific and present technical needs and skills of the local workforce.
Having only employed local labor made it possible to actively involve all the community of Anse-à-Pitres in the development of the project, which soon became a symbol both for the local workers who took part in the construction and for the children.

During the construction, to increase the children’s sense of belonging to their future houses, small workshops were organized where the children could propose or choose some details like the pattern and colors of the concrete platform.
The workshops were organized with the help of Haitian workers so as to provide professional examples to the older kids.

Worker preparing the coloring samples for the cement

2. Ground Preparation

1 / 2 – Clearing the soil from trees and stones
2 / 2 – Fencing the construction area

3. Foundations and Crawlspace

1 / 6 – Tracing the foundations
2 / 6 – Construction of walls
3 / 6 – Preparation of formwork
4 / 6 – Laying stone for filling the crawlspace
5 / 6 – Laying the reinforcing steel for the concrete base
6 / 6 – Boss Laneaux manually fixing the net to the supports

4. Flooring for the Anti-Seismic and Anti-Hurricane Platform

1 / 7 – Arrival of cement from Cabo Rojo at the border with Haiti
2 / 7 – VIDEO - The cement is unloaded at the construction site in the materials storage area after loading it on the various trucks to cross the border
3 / 7 – Arrival of two 1970s mixers from cement-mixers truck
4 / 7 – Preparation of some coloring samples of the cement to be chosen by the children
5 / 7 – Work starts
6 / 7 – VIDEO - The mixer in operation
7 / 7 – VIDEO - The construction site illuminated at night to continue working

5. Manufacture of Bricks

1 / 5 – Cabo Rojo mine
2 / 5 – Unloading the sand at the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti
3 / 5 – VIDEO - Boss Joseph preparing bricks by hand
4 / 5 – The finished bricks are left to dry in the sun
5 / 5 – Often during the night goats belonging to the neighbours entered the site, kicking the bricks and making them unusable. To avoid this problem that had begun to slow down production, Boss Joseph positioned a small plastic zebra on the latest fresh bricks like a voodoo doll.

6. Houses construction

1 / 6 – Alignement of the bricks on the perimeter of the house
2 / 6 – Boss Pierre while he positions the important corner bricks
3 / 6 – Filling the empty holes in the bricks with a cement and crushed stone mix
4 / 6 – This first house almost completed
5 / 6 – Two finished houses alongside the bricks required to build the third and final house
6 / 6 – Rear view of the three completed houses

7. Wooden roof building

1 / 12 – Arrival of the timber
2 / 12 – Cutting the pillars with a circular saw rented from Pedernales
3 / 12 – Breakage of the 3rd generator out of the 3 available in Anse-à-Pitres
4 / 12 – No longer having any generators or technologically advanced machinery available, it was decided to cut the beams by hand.
5 / 12 – After various failed attempts, the local carpenter built a rudimentary two-handed saw using waste materials, which was used to saw all 68 pillars.
6 / 12 – The cut pillars ready to be drilled and installed on the baseplates.
7 / 12 – The first row of pillars is positioned and fixed in place
8 / 12 – With the help of a specialised Italian worker retired in Pedernales, the lintel of the first house is installed.
9 / 12 – The structure of the first roof is completed
10 / 12 – The completed structure of the first three roofs.
11 / 12 – View of the mango tree from under the third roof
12 / 12 – The children start playing in the spaces.

8. Roof coverage

1 / 3 – Installation of the first aluminium plates of the roof’s cladding
2 / 3 – Boss Felix and his assistant while seal the plates with silicone
3 / 3 – Aerial view of the roofs