Summer Course




9 – 19 August 2017

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The Summer 2017 will see us designing and building a 30-50sqm structure in the South West of Haiti, at a bamboo plantation and also the site which was the eye of the 2016 hurricane Matthew.

Design process: Participants are being asked to design a 30-50sqm structure which can be used as a space to each bamboo construction knowledge to the community of Camp Perrin and host those from further afield. Over the past half-decade many groups have used this facility to source plants which can bind the ravines and deforested landscape of the South West of Haiti, a problem which was made worse by the 2016 hurricane. We will tutor software in order to allow participants to clearly articulate their designs. This initial phase will be a way in what a large amount of software and construction knowledge will be instilled into participants.

Design Competition: After seven days, we will select a design to be built at the plantation. This will be the opportunity to present the design which has originated from the intensive tutoring and study and present this to the community. This will not be the tutors selecting a design, but the group coming together to amalgamate ideas and develop one proposal as a team which answers many o the questions set by Haiti’s climatic, social and

Bamboo Construction: The third phase of the project will see us building the structure on the Camp Perrin site. This will expose participants to a wide range of bamboo material knowledge as well as construction techniques (see bamboo material knowledge)


We will start and end the course under the influence of the capital Port au Prince. In between we will discover a different environment of Haiti’s South West and travel to the bamboo plantations of Camp Perrin.

Port au Prince is often described as the ‘Republic of Port au Prince’, given its political and economic control over the rest of the Country. With a population of 3 million, a third of all Haitian’s live in this metropolis. Here we will see what condition the political heart of the nation is 6 and a half years following the devastating earthquake of 2010. We will discuss some of the issues that the students on the 2015 and 2016 courses were faced with. These will offer an insight into the economic, demographic and political reasons why the downtown of Port au Prince lays in its current state, paralysed from reconstruction. We will also visit the residential neighbourhoods which are home to the remaining gingerbread houses. The structural and occupational design of these buildings are filled with lessons for the future of Haitian architecture and especially for ourselves. We will end the course by presenting our work inside a renovated Gingerbread House.

Camp Perrin in the Sud Department of Haiti is home to the ORE Project which propagates many species of bamboo to restore ecology and stabilise the ravines. This work has taken on greater significance following hurricane Matthew, which saw the destruction of many trees in the area.


Site mapping: We will begin our design process by touring the bamboo plantations and seeing the location of where the structure is to be built. This will form the first day of our time in Camp Perrin. This will also be an opportunity to engage with the community and understand the properties of the site and the needs of the end users. This will be an opportunity to meet and discuss with the community the project and take away a strong body of research to drive projects through the critiques and exercises of the following days.

This process will include:

  • Lecture on the typology of the building to be created.
  • Meeting with members of the organisation for which the structure will be built.
  • The history of the region.
  • The effects and experiences of being at the eye of hurricane Matthew.
  • An example of the types of activity in which the structure will be designed for.

Bamboo model making: Bamboo has the fantastic ability to display the same material properties at many scales. As a result bamboo model making has become an art in itself and we will use this tool. These bamboo models offer material and structural information in real time as we endeavour to express initial formal responses to the site investigation and community discussion. We will document all this information, from these intuitive models.

3D Modelling Climatic and Structural Analysis: After our physical modelling investigations, we will take these models into the computer. We will use Rhinoceros 3D as our modelling tool to create a model which can be studied and developed to optimise the design. Following this software such as Autodesk Flow and Karamba will be available as tools to assist with the line of inquiry groups are working with and not as design drivers in themselves. These tools will allow groups to subject designs to climate and aerodynamic data and allow us time for refinement to mitigate the effects of Haiti’s natural vulnerabilities. Working in Camp Perrin participants will be able to tour the devastation of the 2016 hurricane and see for themselves the key factors which resulted in buildings failing and resisting the wind. With class tutorials in presentation software such as Creative Suite we want all students at the end of the course to present a portfolio to a high standard. As tools for testing and conveying our ideas this vast palate of software tools will be taught from a position of no prior knowledge.

Cultural Discussions: Haiti has some of the most unique architectural traditions in the Caribbean. From the urban typologies of the Lakou (courtyard settlement), to the community building typologies of the Choukoun (gathering space) and Gagè (bird fighting arenas), to the Beaux- Arts inspired Gingerbread architecture, these traditions are visual, structural, and functional. They allowed Haitians to comfortably live in a tropical climate, withstand earthquakes and establish a proud identity. We will be joined by those in the community and cultural institutions who have worked to preserve these aspects of Haitian architectural identity and students will be expected to embed what has been learnt into their projects. We are indeed asking students to design a vision of a new lightweight Haitian construction, but this new material system should be inserted into the long line of Haiti’s vernacular traditions, not at their expense.

Community Participation: An important part of these courses is the two-way knowledge transfer between overseas participants and the local community where we are working. For four years of workshops we have become magnets for debate, discourse and reimagining solutions to problems of the local built environment and ecology, and this has only been possible due to the unique perspectives brought by both insiders and outsiders to Haiti.  Local craftsmen, carpenters, as well as school children will be part and parcel of each course and this will create unique perspective and unique experiences for overseas participants.

Construction Knowledge


There will be intensive lectures on the material of bamboo, learning their characteristics as both a plant and a construction material. You will learn the difference between a Paquimorfus and a Leptomorfus and learn why you should not use green bamboo and why bigger, is not always better. You will be lectured on a series of bamboo joints as part of a comprehensive introduction to building with bamboo. From fish mouth joints to ear-joints, these will be incorporated into your design work and then you will learn how to produce such joints in real-life utilising our array of tools and the many species of bamboo that are available to us, including Makinoi and Guadua Angustifolia.

Cutting: We will wake up at 3am to go and cut bamboo as it sleeps. In the dead of night in the Haitian mountains we will use saws and machetes to cut bamboo to see why it is important to do this before the Sun rises. Depending on the time of the month, participants will be able to clearly see the effect of the full Moon on the bamboo.

Treatment: We will learn about the reasons why it is important to treat the bamboo. Will we explain the differing processes and use a boucherie to treat bamboo with environmentally friendly processes such as borax/boric acid and learn about how this solution can still be used following the treatment of bamboo.

Tools: You will be using heavy construction tools which are required for working with bamboo. Including: drill bits for fish mouth joints; the mitre saw; and machetes.


As well as bamboo, we will also be utilising the red earth of this area of Haiti and mixing this with river sand and vetiver grass to make strong adobe mixtures. Participants will learn how this material can be produced and applied to buildings and the properties this material has to make strong secure, warm housing.



The workshop is open to students, professionals or PhD candidates from a variety of backgrounds who find an interest in the agenda of the course, as well as those with a background in architecture, engineering and design.

Software Requirements: Adobe Creative Suite, Rhinoceros 3D and Grasshopper, and Adobe Flow. Though prior knowledge is welcome, all software will be introduced from a level of no prior knowledge. We do ask for a small sample of past work (no more than 5mb) to be sent to haiti@aaschool.ac.uk upon application.



£925 per participant, which includes self-catering accommodation and a visiting membership fee. There will be a limited amount of early bird discounts of 20%, please e-mail haiti@aaschool.ac.uk for more information.


Article 5 Bursaries (Haiti)

As a means of overcoming any political events in Haiti’s Northern neighbour, and as a means of upholding both the philosophy of the AA School and Haiti’s founding, we would like to offer support to any prospective participant, whom based on their country of birth finds they are now unable to seek a transit visa, and may be required to find alternative, more expensive means by which to bring their own unique character to the course in Haiti. If you this affects any participant, please email visitingschool@aaschool.ac.uk and we will see how we can assist with advice and financial support.



We take site safety extremely seriously. Alcohol is banned during any activity associated with the bamboo workshops. If alcohol is found during the workshop hours, we reserve the right to banned any participant from participation in the course.



1) You can make an application by clicking here

2) Once you make a full payment, you are registered to the programme.

Fees do not include transport to/from Haiti, but will include airport/coach station pick-ups and transfers for participants arriving/departing from Port au Prince, Tabarre, or Petionville.

Fees include accommodation for those arriving in Port au Prince on the day prior to the commencement of the course, and departing Port au Prince on the day following the completion of the course. Any additional days prior or onwards must be arranged by the participant.

Participants need to bring their own laptops and digital equipment. Please ensure this equipment is covered by your own comprehensive travel insurance as the AA takes no responsibility for items lost or stolen at the workshop.