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Ceverine School


The Stiller Foundation partnered with Architecture for Humanity and Save the Children to design and build the first of (hopefully) several schools in the Maissade area of Artibonite, Haiti. Save have been working in this area for roughly 20 years. The design complements and improves an existing school building (4 classrooms) while adding a second school block (2 classrooms), kitchen and composting latrines and demonstrates all the requirements for hurricane proofing and seismic design while offering a bright and much improved environment for learning. As with all schools Architecture for Humanity is working on rainwater harvesting and composting latrines are integrated from the outset.

Together with our experienced and ever smiling contractor Yves Francois (Ecofra S.A.), Save the Children and Architecture for Humanity are nearing completion of their first reconstruction project post earthquake. This weekend (Nov 7) the final coat of paint is due on the existing school building while classes are already underway. Foundations are complete on the new school building, kitchen and latrines.

Great video coutesy of Fredric King and Fountainhead Films tells the story of Ceverine as part of the bigger picture of reconstruction in Haiti.

Site and Project Evaluation
Architecture for Humanity was asked to visit and evaluate a school run by Save the Children in Ceverine, on the outskirts of Maissade. The school has been under construction for several years and is not yet complete. The following report will detail observations and contains a cursory scope of work we believe would be necessary to successfully complete the project.

Successful completion, as defined by Save the Children, is the remediation of any damage on the existing classroom block and provision of two additional classrooms and new latrines.

The school provides education to 257 students. Approximately 4 classes of 60 students. Student body is drawn from the surrounding area. School director avers that some students walk up to 2 hours each way to get to school.

There is no electricity on site. No generator was observed. Water is obtained from a dammed creek approximately 10 minutes walking to the Southeast. A small kitchen adjoins the school but is of different construction. It is rough hewn wood lattice work, does not appear to be stable and presents a fire safety hazard.

Classes are currently in recess, which provides an excellent opportunity to execute the remaining work. School supplies and books, are managed by Save the Children.

Being quite rural, no site security is provided or needed.

Physical Description

The original structure is one-story CMU construction with cement finish, with a poorly wood-framed roof covered in corrugated metal roofing. It rests on a foundation that appears to be concrete with large voids of rock, but no destructive investigation was conducted. The main long house consists of five classrooms arranged linearly. Two additional outbuildings are on site: one latrine building and one wood shack that functions as wood storage and kitchen.

Although relatively new construction, the building is already showing signs of damage. The school has been located on the downhill slope of a short but steep incline, and draining water has been pounding on the South side of the structure since its construction. Additionally, the interior concrete floor slabs are spawled, presumably due to standing water on the building’s interior. The interior floor slab is neither level nor even, and water was seen ponding in several classrooms. (See Figure 5)

The pressure from downhill drainage appears to have moved the building slightly. The foundation has settled down hill. The resulting movement has led to significant cracking in the front entry stairs, which will need to be replaced. (See Fig. 4)

Existing windows are metal grate and may need to be reset. Existing doors are steel and appear in good shape. Walls show minor cracking, especially around the corners of the windows. These cracks do not appear severe enough to constitute structural damage of concern. However, they should be repaired along with other work.

The existing roof is rough hewn wood members. All connections appear to be toenailed or absent all together. No tie downs or hurricane clips were observed. In multiple locations, roof members were sistered together with shorter members. Several roof beams were observed sagging significantly. The roof sheathing appears to be light gauge corrugated metal roofing pinned down with non-galvanized nails. Roof is rusting. (See Figures 7,8)

The site itself appears well maintained. Soil is moist and appears to be well drained. A large shade tree exists in front of the school. It is not clear whether the root ball from the existing tree is exerting pressure on the cracked stairs. Site descends roughly 10’ from South to North but incline is not constant. The portion the south side of the existing building is quite steep, while the rest of the site is less of an incline. (see Figure 9)


Existing concrete steps need to be demolished and replaced.

Roof needs to be replaced in its entirety with continuous members, heavier gauge roofing and a rain collection system.

A drainage canal needs to be installed on the South side of the building. The drainage installation should be composed of drainage tile, or fill, or some such mechanism. It should also function as a ‘cricket’ to drain water to the East and West of the building.

Minor concrete repairs will be necessary on the walls of the building. Specifically, around the window corners.
Concrete floors need to be chipped out and refinished. Floors should be made smooth and level.

New Work
Two new classrooms can be provided on the west side of the existing structure. A new off-grid latrine system should also be provided. Since there is no water service to the site, this would likely be a composting toilet or use grey water from the rain catchment system.

Erection of these two classrooms would be relatively simple and quick, however, mobilization, material delivery and work force housing will be challenged by the remoteness of the site.

Some minor work should also be done to regrade the site to positively affect drainage away from the building.
All work is to be done by hand and hand power tools. No heavy equipment will be necessary.


Outside Maissade, Artibonite


Project Details

NAME: Ceverine School
PROJECT LEAD: Darren Gill / Eric Cesal
LOCATION: Outside Maissade, Artibonite, Haiti
START DATE: June 21, 2010
CURRENT PHASE: Construction complete
COST: $115000 USD (Final)
SIZE: 147 sq. m
PROJECT TYPE: Education Facility - Primary School
, Save the Children
DESIGN FELLOW: Stacey McMahan, Darren Gill
DESIGN TEAM: Tommy Stewart, James Jean-Louis, Heidi Arnold, Francisco Barrachina, Ronan Burke, Gerry Reilly, Hill Pierce