arch-peace news and articles


Haiti - the replanning

Photo: Marco Dormino/ The United Nations

As international humanatarian organisations and planners start to describe the shape of the new Port-au-Prince, others are becoming concerned that the wrong principles are being applied at the wrong time...

Recent articles in the New York Times and Fast Company speak of guidelines showing the new Port-au-Prince being decentralised, and far less dense. The population would be spread across Haiti in "growth poles". This insulates the population from earthquake-induced construction collapses -Port-au-Prince is on a fault-line. And part of the reasoning is that the pre-earthquake Port-au-Prince was artifically dense thanks to the work of the U.S. in 1915 and Francois Duvalier in the 1960s, so should be fixed now that there is an opportunity.
The guidelines recommend the introduction of segregated zoning in the city, the introduction of parks, and the establishment of village centres along New Urbanist lines.

Greg Lindsay at Fast Company criticises the decentraisation approach by suggesting that we shouldn't try to create post-industrial conditions in pre-industrial countries. It is not the time to be pushing agrarianism.

A point missed in both articles is voiced in a reader comment by Patrick Breseda:

Haiti is no one's laboratory. Not for the Urbanists, old or new. I don't know what they need, or what would help. But I can guess that they need someone playing games with their country's structural organization like they need another earthquake.


beatriz said...

Excellent article Peter, thank you. We need to seriously discuss these issues. Enough of funky nonsense at the expense of people's living conditions. At the moment--and with the "blessing" of some important organisations--reconstruction is a circus.

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