Because of the severe wind and seismic demands, the International Building Code is appropriate and should be used for structural design for all commercial buildings. There is no need to write a structural code specific to Haiti. The International Residential Building code would also be appropriate for small, conventional homes, however, the wind and seismic detailing tends to be prescriptive in lieu of "engineered" and may not be appropriate for some large or custom residential buildings.
Conventional masonry, concrete and steel is appropriate for commercial structures. Wood can also be used for light commercial buildings, however the Caribbean environment can be harsh on wood construction. Masonry and concrete have better life cycles. For residential construction, reinforced masonry, precast concrete or tilt-up concrete are economical and appropriate, Wood can also be used effectively but special considerations need to be given toward structural connections and the humid environment.
Based upon my observations of construction on other Caribbean islands I would lean toward reinforced masonry and concrete. The construction industry is already familiar with using these materials, there is plenty of labor experience and the infrastructure seems to already be well established to provide materials. It would be hard to beat precast concrete for cost, durability and speed of construction. I would think a clever team of architects, planners and engineers would be able to quickly develop solutions on how to provide residential housing using a "kit of parts" delivery system with emphasis on prefabrication of the parts to speed up assembly.
One final comment, if a road has not yet been built to service Paul Farmer's hospital, then it needs to be done ASAP. I would also consult Paul Farmer regarding his opinions pertaining to how to provide quick, but durable shelter for inhabitants, particularly those living in the country side. He has wrestled with this problem for years already and has had some success with very limited resources. This man really understands Haiti, it's strengths and it's weaknesses.
Subscribe to Fine Homebuilding magazine now and save up to 52%
© 2017 The Taunton Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
Become a member and get instant access to thousands of videos, how-tos, tool reviews, and design features.
Start your subscription today and save up to 52%