How an artist is helping rebuild Haiti

The Konbit Shelter is a sustainable building project in Haiti

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti claimed more than 100 000 lives and destroyed homes and infrastructure all over the country. As a country that is susceptible to earthquakes, hurricanes and flooding, Haiti still has poor quality construction that is easily damaged. Fuelled by the belief that art and the creative process can help in times of crisis, artist Caledonia Curry, who is widely known as Swoon, decided to help restore homes in Haiti.

“I had spent the last ten years building improbable things in difficult circumstances, raising ungodly sums of money and I found myself asking what could be accomplished if we were to apply all this energy and resources to a situation of need,” she says on her website.

Swoon founded the Konbit Shelter project and worked with a small group of artists, engineers and builders (most of them locals) to build a few disaster-resilient structures since 2010.  Now they are set to build another structure in the village of Komye, not too far from the epicentre of the quake.

The Konbit shelter project aims to cross-pollinate modern design ideas with local ingenuity, customs and building styles for architecture that is safe, beautiful, affordable and self-sustaining.

According to its Kickstarter page, the structure in Komye village will be a modern bamboo house for a local family.  It will also serve as a communal work of art and architecture that will involve efforts from local teachers, farmers, artists and school children in every aspect.

The Konbit Shelter program has had a positive impact in Komye village. While working on previous buildings, the local children showed interest in art and the construction process. This led to the founding of Klub Obzevetwa – an afterschool program where the children learn about architecture, home design and town planning as well as arts and crafts. 

Konbit Shelter's previous work: