Paul, I am an architect in Kansas City who finds himself involved in a small reconstruction project in Port-au-Prince for an orphanage my daughter will be working at this summer. Man I would love some tips on construction techniques as we begin a small 2-story guest house. Is there a resource out there for these types of questions? How deep is the foundation, metric or Imperial (they tell me metric but I see your drawings use feet), reinforcing details, etc.
Eager to work but looking for help,
Kevin – Thanks for being in touch. We used imperial dimensions, though many in Haiti use metric. There is no standard Where I worked, the crews uses both interchangeably. Our buildings were constrained concrete construction. The foundation was 4 feet deep with a grid of grade beams to connected all footings. When we reached first floor level we backfilled with structural fill that provided the ‘ballast’ against earthquakes. As we built, we reinforced every horizontal of CMU (#3) and verticals (#4) at 16″ o.c. We had to make our own block, as two-cell wasn’t available in Grand Goave, but you can buy it in PAP. The reinforcing was placed through column cages (8 – #6 vertically with #3 stirrup at 1′-0″ oc) and the columns were poured last, to tie the reinforcing CMU walls together. All of this was to prevent CMU walls from coming loose in an earthquake. You can learn about it in my book, Architecture by Moonlight, which is available from Amazon.
Most construction is not as sturdy or as well engineered as what we did. Most people are building concrete frames and infilling with CMU that is cold-tied to the structure. What we did is more complicated but very sturdy. Best of luck.
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