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École La Dignité


"Working with Architecture for Humanity has been a great experience. You brought me into the process and I feel like part of the team. You always keep me informed and help me make decisions about what to do with the project, my school, Ecole la Dignite. It is so useful to have someone available all the time to explain what's happening. There are many complicated things in building a school and this new building is beautiful. It is not a building, it is a work of art, and we did that. Thank you."
- Vivianne Vieux
Headmistress, École La Dignité

École La Dignité, headed by Mme Vieux, is the only free private school in Jacmel and supports 8 localities from as far as 3 km, including Corrail Soult, Nan Model and La Pierre. The school currently has 227 students from grades 1-6 and intends to expand its program to include grades 7 and 8, requiring the construction of two new classrooms. This expansion anticipates an additional 90 students starting in October 2010. The facility is also currently being used as a community center, serving many different local groups (fishermen community, art programs, church groups). (See Fig. 6) The school receives funding support through NGO's, which is expected to continue for at least the next 10 years. Architecture for Humanity has been asked to assist by providing a site assessment for the addition of 2 classrooms.

Read Dignité's story on

Construction Complete
Grand Opening
On Monday, November 7, a healthy representation of Architecture for Humanity's Haiti office drove down to the Caribbean village of Cayes Jacmel to witness the first day of class in the new rooms they've built for École La Dignité.

The team was received by school headmistress Madame Vivianne Vieux, was treated to an opening ceremony of songs and dance by the community and school children, and taken for a tour of the new facilities–complete with classroom benches, a green/white paint job (a departure from the blue/white schemes we keep seeing around the country), and hand-woven bamboo door/window/clerestory screens.

Job very well done by everyone on our Haiti team in designing and managing the construction of the Dignité extension–may this be the direction taken by every Students Rebuild school (and every project otherwise) in Haiti!

Ground Breaking Ceremony
With about 200 people in attendance including the local police chief, the ministry of education, the mayors office, parents, students, the contractor and the Architecture for Humanity team we broke ground on April 1 2011. Construction site training commences next week, the construction outreach team are moving to Cayes Jacmel shortly and Mme Vieux has been assured construction will be complete in 90 days. Weekly reports and photos will be posted for the duration of the build.

Design Development
Ronan Burke and Amanda Márquez did a great job liasing with Mme Vieux and producing a beautifully designed scheme which everyone involved with the project is very happy with. Darren Gill and Gerry Reilly have now taken on the project and are working through design developement and construction documents. We expect to start construction in early 2011 and have the 7th graders into their new classroom before the end of the school year.

Site Information
Access and Surrounding Area
The school is located in Jacmel, 170 feet ( 52 m) above sea level, approximately ½ mile uphill from the main road. A gravel road leads to the school, where there is a small river crossing, which might make the road impassable on foot after rains and during times of other high water events. Vegetation on the site is a mix of trees/bushes, grasses, dirt and gravel.

Site Specific information
• Drainage is across the site to the south
• Proposed site for new classrooms is approximately 150 feet (45 m)
by 75 feet (23 m) (See Fig.11 & 12)
• A grouping of trees are adjacent to the main building, where there are benches for informal, outdoor lessons (See Fig. 10)
• A soccer pitch and a garden, where plants and vegetables are to be planted by the students, are located on a rented piece of land adjacent to the main building

Building Data
Academic Buildings
• The school has been in operation since 1999
• The main building is located on the south side of the site at the gated entrance and has three classrooms connected by a covered corridor (grades 1, 2 and 3), as well as the cafeteria, kitchen, storage room and Vivian's office (See Fig. 3, 4 & 8)
• Students eat in shifts (per class), as the cafeteria is too small for everyone to eat at once - this system is preferred, as it's easier to manage
• A Second building of classrooms, is located on the highest point of the site (north side), which has 2 stories with covered corridors (See Fig. 5)
• The main floor is currently being used as a large community room (See Fig. 6) as a meeting place for local fishermen, church groups as well as other social functions
• The 2nd floor has 3 classrooms (grades 4, 5 and 6)
• A latrine block is located on the the west side of the site (See Fig. 7)
• No power
• No water

• Small indoor kitchen in main building, 1 meal is provided to the students each morning

Current Situation
• Existing classrooms in good condition
• The buildings as designed are not adequate to support 90 additional students
• Most of the classrooms do not receive a lot of natural light (see Fig. 4) and tend to be quite dark on cloudier days – the classroom on the end of the 2nd block has window openings on 3 sides and is substantially brighter (See Fig. 6)
• Drainage on the site is a problem – since the main building is at the bottom of the slope, the overflow of rainwater often gets inside the classrooms
• There is presently no water catchment system or proper drainage system (See Fig. 9)
• Rainwater collects on porches

• In good condition (See Fig. 8)
• Appropriate for use as kitchen

Design and construction of 2 new classroom facilities must consider:
• Addition of water catchment, drainage and water storage
• Solar power could support electrification of the new facility, as well as existing facilities, which would also allow community functions / activities to take place in the evenings
• Additional Latrines to accommodate 90 new students



Cayes de Jacmel, Sud-Est


Project Details

NAME: École La Dignité
PROJECT LEAD: Darren Gill / Gerry Reilly
LOCATION: Cayes de Jacmel, Sud-Est, Haiti
START DATE: June 23, 2010
CURRENT PHASE: Construction complete
COST: $75000 USD (Final)
SIZE: 200 sq. m
PROJECT TYPE: Education Facility - Primary School
CLIENT: Ecole la Dignite, Mme Vivianne Vieux [Client's Representative]
FUNDING: Stiller Foundation and PechaKucha for Haiti
PROJECT PARTNER: Students Rebuild
DESIGN FELLOW: Lyndia Messidor, Schendy Kernizan, Stacey McMahan
ADDITIONAL CONSULTANT: Michel Magnier [Geotech], Guiders Kernizan [Topographic Survey], Build Change [Construction Training],
DESIGN TEAM: Gerry Reilly, Ronan Burke, Amanda Márquez, Jean James Louis, Jessie Towell, Lisa Smyth, Natalie Desrosiers, Tamsin Ford
ADDITIONAL CONSULTANT: Haiti Water [water treatment], Studio Drum Collaborative [bamboo windows and doors]
STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Rick Ehlert, Stephane Cherduville, Carl Harrigan
ADDITIONAL SUPPORT: Jacques Nixon, Ulrick Pierre, Stanley Joseph, Nicolas Marie Elizabeth