The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment of the Prince Charles based in London and the firm of Miami, Duany Plater-Zyberk (DPZ), have been committed by the Haitian Government to develop a reconstruction plan of Port-au-Prince and make proposals on the spatial organization of the perimeter declared of public utility.
The foundation, with its international experience, has already contributed in the past to reshape the downtown areas in often difficult conditions like those of Kingston (Jamaica) or Kabul (Afghanistan). Sources close to the project, indicate that the downtown Port-au-Prince is the biggest challenge to date treated by the Foundation.
A plan was unveiled this week to reconstruct the historic downtown of Port-au-Prince with a better urban environment than existed prior to the January 2010 earthquake. The plan envisions to rebuilt a government center around the presidential palace with civic and administrative buildings, museums, concert halls, schools and green spaces. There will be a pedestrian area in front of new buildings. "The historic street grid will be retained with new small parks on street corners that will come together to form complete squares of tremendous elegance" explains planner and architect Andres Duany.
The waterfront will be rebuilt and will include trees (mangrove) to protect against storms. The plan envisages the construction of housing over the rubble. The team calculated that if the rubble of demolished buildings are used as a base for new buildings it would raise them up 80 centimeters, "enough to protect against a 100-year flood, so that water will flow into the streets without affecting houses or parking" precised Duany.
"Planners have focused on how the middle class and higher may be attracted by this new urban environment - which is the only way that a reconstruction can be amortized" explained the planner. "The people require three things the security, the parking and a predictable environment" he says. To achieve these objectives, the plan proposes a management of type "sub-governmental" at the scale of the "urban block". Each residential block, named by the team an "urban village", would be designed to provide its own utilities and parking. A structure at the center of each urban village would provide electricity, water and sewer," said Duany, and would be surrounded by a common area of parking, accessible by walkways. The central block would be watched over by residents, all of whom have a personal stake in security. The utilities and parking would be owned in the form of a cooperative or condominium.
"The generous size of the historic Port-au-Prince blocks provides space for central infrastructure and parking while allowing some private space for residents. Many of the blocks could be designed with greens space in the corners. We expect every block to have a park" precised Duany. "So in fact, that everyone will see trees, " he added.
The architecture of new buildings will be based on local precedents, said the planners. The team is considering an initial development of 1 and 2 story buildings, which was the condition of downtown before the earthquake "so there is no reason to think that after the earthquake it will be four stories" Duany says, "However, it can evolve in four stories over time". Recalling that a legal framework (town planning code) must ensure compliance with the Master Plan to maintain the harmony of the city.
Traffic-calming measures such as small roundabouts on the corners would help to keep traffic flowing at a pace that is not disruptive of pedestrians. The plan looks at options for transit, including a bus loop, a streetcar loop, and/or bus rapid transit.
"In addition to government administration, tourism could be a source of employment", recalled Duany. Essential to that occurring would be developing a retail-oriented quarter near the port with small, pedestrian-scale blocks, Duany explains. An essential aspect that would allow to develop a neighborhood-oriented retail near the port.
Article By HL/ HaitiLibre