Thursday, February 27, 2014

Site Plan and Buildings

As we continue to help Pastor Riccardo develop the property in Haiti, part of the need is for structures that will provide opportunity for someone to remain onsite and eventually for other structures for ministry purposes (orphanage, church building, school facilities). We have been exploring options for the first building that could be used for both a residence and for secure storage. Our journey for an option actually began in 2011.

Sometime after the Port au Prince earthquake in January 2011, we became aware of a Newberg-based architect, Tim Cornell, who just so happened to be doing work in Haiti, developing housing structures optimal for a tropical climate and meeting both earthquake and hurricane design requirements. What we didn't realize was just how significant Tim's designs were (he had won one international design competition and would "win" another one in Haiti). Simply put, the building designs are genius and they are now being recognized as such by a number of officials and organizations in Portland and elsewhere (but more on that later).

When we went to Haiti in 2011, Tim allowed us to send materials in a shipping container that he was sending for the building competition that was happening around the same time. It turned out that we were in-country at the time that he was completing the construction on his model home and some of our team were able to help finish construction in advance of the competition. We were impressed with his designs and we talked about eventually trying to purchase one of his buildings for use with Pastor Riccardo's ministry. The buildings are very unique in that they use materials that will withstand the harsh climate, are not subject to variations in construction practice that lead to serious structural integrity problems (like the use of inferior materials in concrete as is so common in Haiti and was a major contributing factor in the devastation from the earthquake), and can be constructed very quickly (like a week or two instead of months).

Fast forward several years—GBC helped purchase a parcel of about 5 acres with the need for such structures. Several weeks ago, we completed infrastructure work that will help support irrigation and a residence on the property. We plan a trip in June for a Kid's Camp (aka VBS) and continue to work with Pastor Riccardo to develop his vision for a place that can serve as a basis for church planting training throughout the country. This is what it looks like to get in on the ground floor of something amazing that God is doing.

We asked Tim to develop plans for an initial building on the site that could provide the storage and residence requirements that are needed. Many of the options that Tim's building provide are based on a 12' x 12' module with a steel frame and foam insulation wrapped wall and roof panels. His design for the building we requested consists of two rooms separated by a deck, all covered with a roof as indicated by the photo below:

This building will be equipped for rain capture and also sanitary facilities. We will also hope to add solar panels for electricity (there is no electricity in the area surrounding the property so the only option is to "create your own").

The next question was how we were going to raise the funds to purchase the building and ship it to Haiti. Tim offered to ship the components to Newberg and allow us to assemble a "spec home" so that we could learn how to construct it once the components are onsite in Haiti and allow others to be able to walk through the structure and see tangibly what we are trying to accomplish. That day is almost here and we plan to ask for volunteers who can help us assemble the frame and the panels in the GBC church parking lot (the City of Newberg is allowing us to assemble this temporarily on our site). We hope to do most of this work on two successive Saturdays.

In addition to this, Tim has developed a vision for using a version of his buildings to provide high-quality, yet extremely affordable homeless transition housing. The problem with serving the needs of the homeless population is that it is mostly "out of sight, out of mind." The reality is that there is a huge need locally and not just internationally. Tim's designs have caught the attention of a number of influential people and organizations in Portland (which has a substantial homeless population that isn't so "out of sight"). He also shared his design with Love INC in Newberg and they were thrilled for several reasons. First, the structures are extremely affordable, up to 1/10 of the cost of standard construction options (this 12' x 16' unit costs approximately $8,000). Second, they are high quality, providing a solution with dignity for those who are being served. A sample of the design is included below in addition to the floorplan:

If you are interested in more info on the design and construction practice, I would invite you to download the full TechDwell brochure.

We will also be constructing an model unit of this transitional housing option in the GBC parking lot when we assemble the Haiti unit. This will allow local individuals and organizations to see the unit and determine if it will help meet the needs of people in our own area. The concept has been presented to other churches in Newberg and even to the Yamhill County Housing Authority. We'll see what happens next!


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