community education & empowerment brings positive changes in haiti
community education & empowerment brings positive changes in haiti community education & empowerment brings positive changes in haiti
jun 10, 2015

community education & empowerment brings positive changes in haiti

community education & empowerment brings positive changes in haiti
all images courtesy of kenbe design/build




kenbe design/build is a social business founded on the desire to confront the endless complexities of enabling sustainable social progress. using backgrounds in architecture and construction, the company set out to create buildings that are equal both in volume and educational value. through research, it became clear that community engagement, the teaching of skills, and providing jobs were the three conduits to their mission. incorporating the local populace was obvious, how they would go about doing so — not so much.

‘RH secondary school’




each project starts by bringing together leaders in continuous, various village-wide meetings. a solid understanding of local needs, available resources, and desires proceeds all decision making. then, through a series of workshops, community members are taught extensively about various materials and construction techniques, all the while being instilled with a foundation of safe building practices. construction is then conducted and managed by local teams, with budget and quality control overseen by kenbe and several local organizations.

kenbe design build social education construction haiti designboom
woven latanyé and high ceilings help distribute sun and air within the secondary school




to incorporate as many people as possible, kenbe often finds ways to adopt unknown materials and techniques into every project. latanyé, a natural material traditionally used for furniture and mattresses, is used in walls and as window coverings in the ‘RH secondary school’. in a remote area, bas-citronniers, bamboo is plentiful but not used for construction. in a school built there, locals were trained on how to use the organic material rather than expensive and dangerous concrete.

interior of school in gressier, haiti




in haiti, the company’s primary location, schools and medical clinics are in great demand. unfortunately, providing four walls and a roof is rarely the answer people need, regardless of how well it’s designed. by investing time and energy into the nation’s social systems, the community can become purveyors of their own progress, aspiring generations to come. 

kenbe design build social education construction haiti designboom
construction of woven latanyé screens

bas-citronniers school utilizes local woven bamboo strips to for wall lathing

fiberglass bug screen stretched over a hyper-parabolic frame, painted with a layer of acrylic cement mixture

kenbe design build social education construction haiti designboom
each door is custom designed and produced by locals

lack of road access to bas-citronniers required material to be brought by motorcycle if the river was low

bas-citronniers medical clinic roof lifting before application of cement mixture

kenbe design build social education construction haiti designboom
local wood milled on site and efficient use of concrete provides low maintenance durability

custom metal brackets gap wood to create a breathable façade, simultaneously providing security and privacy

kenbe design build social education construction haiti designboom
interior of bas-citronnier medical clinic



designboom has received this project through its ‘DIY submissions’ feature, which welcomes readers to submit their own work for publication. see more designboom readers submissions here.


edited by: nick brink | designboom

  • Fantastic ideas! A way to bring art and fun into schools! Great work!

    'nando says:
  • What a brilliant and beautiful combination of materials, local talents and design. Love it!

    bhayward says:
  • No offence, but I would guess that “art and fun” were not the priorities. Perhaps “survival and a viable future” could be considered a tad more important.

    Daniel Morris says:
  • @Daniel Morris: No offence but I believe that is implicit in the project…

    Edgar Navarro says:
  • This is a wonderful article and amazing project. Do you have any idea what each building ended up costing in labor and materials in USD?

    John says:

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