Post-disaster reconstruction specialist Marie Aquilino, one of our professors and guest lecturers, has just released a free online book about her experience over the last several years working as an architect in the recovery and reconstruction of post-earthquake Haiti. Titled Abiding Architecture, she has coined the term abiding to refer to an attitude while practicing the profession of design in the search for coherency and equity in the rebuilding process.: “It is much more than listening; it’s listening times ten, from both sides, in conversation, with deference and humility.
The book includes contributions from students and other practitioners like Sergio Palleroni, and we were excited to see the mention of our own alumni Alberto Preato and Faidra Matziaraki (page 15, Alberto pictured on page 16), who worked with Marie and Sergio in Haiti during and after graduating from our program.
From the book:
Three years, two universities, four professors, eighty plus students, four assistants, eleven languages, eighty-nine kids, myriad partners, colleagues, and friends, one site. This is the story of a unique collaboration in Titanyen, Haiti held in place by a vision that would transform an arid, desolate hilltop into a residential school for children orphaned to the street after the earthquake in 2010. The site needed everything: master plans, models, construction booklets, material solutions, as well as buildings. Forced to completely rethink the role of architecture in recovery, we discovered the need for abiding. Abiding is listening x ten; it’s the depths of complicated, ongoing, not-at-all easy conversations that are driven by an unpredictable mix of argument, deference, opportunity, respect, and realism. Abiding also troubled our grasp of what we were responsible for, led us to question whether we knew how to provide the help that was needed, and complicated our sense of time …
Also, don’t forget to check out Marie’s column at Metropolis where she also shared her experience working with the Montesinos Foundation in Titanyen and the local community.
Marie Aquilino (PhD, Brown University) is professor of architectural history and a specialist in contemporary urban redevelopment at École Spéciale d’Architecture, where she leads a program that educates and trains architecture students to work in the context of extreme need and crisis in the developing world. She is currently part of an international working group on the reconstruction of Haiti, and is a recent laureate of the Partner University Fund for her work in Titanyen. Marie is also the editor and one of the authors of Beyond Shelter: Architecture and Human Dignity (Metropolis Books, 2011), which features 25 reports from the field by leaders of architecture studios, engineering firms, non-profits, research centers, and international agencies that are working to provide sustainable recovery efforts in a wide range of urban and rural locales. Since the book’s release, she has continued to advocate for a sea change, one that radically shifts our thinking and practice from short-term emergency aid to investment in long-term development.