Unitec Architecture students have arrived in Haiti

Press Release – UNITEC

A group of six Unitec Institute of Technology architecture students and one lecturer have now landed in Haiti to work on an international project assisting Architecture for Humanity with community-led reconstruction and redevelopment initiatives in the …Unitec Architecture students have arrived in Haiti to help with post-earthquake rebuild

A group of six Unitec Institute of Technology architecture students and one lecturer have now landed in Haiti to work on an international project assisting Architecture for Humanity with community-led reconstruction and redevelopment initiatives in the Caribbean nation.

The group will spend four weeks working on the project Haiti 11, which is a partnership between Architecture for Humanity and students from Unitec.

A massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck near Haiti’s capital, Port au Prince, on January 12, 2010. More than 3,500,000 people were affected by the quake. 220,000 people died and over 300,000 people were injured. Over 180,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and 1.5m people became homeless.

The Unitec group will be involved in master planning for an Urban Planning project and will also be teaching employable skills to local people working in the building industry.

Unitec Architecture Lecturer, Mark Mismash says, “We will be acting as quality control on building sites, helping the Haitians how to read blueprints and follow building plans.”

“A lot of other aid agencies bring in contractors to do the work themselves. Architecture for Humanity focus on teaching the local people the skills they need to do the work themselves,” he says.

“This is a hugely positive approach as it helps to create jobs for the local people and also will help to ensure more buildings will be constructed to safer standards,” says Mismash.

“The project is also a fantastic opportunity for the students to be involved in a real project and to get some incredible hands-on experience while making a difference at the same time.”

Unitec Head of Department for Architecture, Tony Van Raat, says: “This exercise reflects our belief that architecture is fundamentally a service profession and that service is at its most significant when those being served are among the most deprived groups of people. This understanding stands in abrupt contrast to the view that architecture operates as a star system on a rarefied plane detached from the lives of ordinary people.

“The skills these students learn will be available for use in New Zealand or wherever else in the world post-disaster reconstruction is required”

The opportunity for a group from Unitec to be involved came about when Eric Cesal who is the Architecture for Humanity project co-coordinator for Haiti was in New Zealand recently visiting Christchurch.

He gave a guest lecture at Unitec to Architecture students and the need for some help completing a project prior to Christmas 2011 was raised. The decision to make the trip came about at very short notice. Since then preparations and fund raising for the trip has been a whirl wind for the students as it’s all happened so quickly.

The students have worked very hard to raise money to help fund the Haiti 11 trip and sponsors include local architecture firms, Architectus, Jasmax, Pete Bossley Architects and RCD as well as Hydropal and Unitec.

The students who will be going are: Gabriel Fung a 5th Year student who is in his second year of his Masters of Architecture. His thesis topic is transitional housing and providing social services with accommodation for the margninalised (homeless etc.). Also, Arnika Blount and Courtney Smith Frank, who are doing their Masters of Architecture and Sam Morris, who is in his third year of his Bachelor of Architecture Studies. Plus, Marcus Richardson and Elfie Kitchingham Hamilton who are both second year Bachelor of Architecture Studies students.

For more information go to: blog: http://archstudentsforhumanity.wordpress.com/

ENDS

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