ANSE-À-PITRES – A small Haitian coastal village has become a major hub for migrants to the Dominican Republic due to its location at the border. Ayitimoun Yo, a local NGO managing the widespread poverty that still afflicts the area, recently commissioned Italian architect Bonaventura Visconti di Modrone to design a safe haven for homeless children that could both provide a place to sleep and host daily activities.

Though nearly all of the materials had to be painstakingly imported from the Dominican Republic, Visconti di Modrone’s project Ti Kay Là (“The Small House” in Creole dialect) drew on two of the most prevalent icons of the local, rural architectural context for inspiration. The Kay ayitien, a single-family home consisting of simple rectilinear volumes with double-pitched roofs, has influenced the form of the structures. Three rectangular, brick buildings rest on a single concrete, anti-seismic plinth, all underneath a single shelter of wood and aluminium that repeats the pitched-roof motif. The roof’s detachment responds to the hot and humid climate of the region by providing natural ventilation. On the other hand, the lakou, a settlement that configures houses around a central courtyard, has informed the arrangement of the volumes. Voids between the houses and the boundary of the plinth create a spacious veranda for the children to bond and regain a sense of belonging to a family.

Photos courtesy of Marco Cappelletti, Rocìo Faìren and Bonaventura Visconti di Modrone