HabiTek's Fò Kay (strong House) Concept House for Haiti

Where better to look for inspiration than Haiti’s proud vernacular architectural tradition?

I was delighted to find many old ti-kays (small houses) on a visit to Haiti last year. Reinterpreting this tradition with modern materials and high-tech construction methods led me to appreciate why it is so well-suited to Haiti's lifestyle and climate. It has been documented that the shotgun house came to Haiti from Africa and from there to the United States, most notably to New Orleans, where the term shotgun house is still used.

While researching Haiti’s traditional domestic architecture, I was introduced to Jay D. Edwards, a professor of Anthropology & Geography at Louisiana State Univ. and a leading expert in Louisiana’s (and Haiti's) vernacular architecture. I asked Jay to comment on HabiTek’s shotgun house, and he responded, "Your ti-kay looks great. It will really fit right in to the cultural landscape."

HabiTek’s roof shape evolved with the understanding that hip roofs perform particularly well in hurricanes. Further, the change in slope near the eaves makes it easy to add additional rooms, typically done by Haitian families. The pre-engineered steel framework for this 47.5m2 ti-kay, after a short training period, could be erected by any two able-bodied persons in a day. It can then be enclosed in a variety of ways including wattle & daub, prefabricated panels, earthbags, or even concrete block. Side extension options can include an indoor bathroom, additional storage, a workshop, or another sleeping area.

Haitian architectural traditions hold many lessons. We look forward to comments from Haitians about HabiTek’s model house for Haiti. Sincerely, G. Higgins, Architect

Download a PDF version of HabiTek's Fò Kay floor plan study.