Haiti: Architecture

There is little or nothing in the average street vista to arouse the admiration, though there is a certain cause for amusement in the strange juxtaposition of the most primitive African reed huts with the attempts of Paris-educated mulattoes to ape, with improvements of their own, their favorite French chateaux.

Harry A. Franck, “Under the Palm-Tree in Haiti,” Roaming through the West Indies (1920).

The modest, but just as exuberantly ornamented dwellings of the common people of Haiti remain uncelebrated and as yet scarcely documented. Their humility, however, belies their significance. They represent, arguably, the roots of the first and perhaps only truly Afro-American architecture.

Anthony Hart Fisher and John Vlach, “The Popular Architecture of Haiti,” Mimar: Architecture in Development (1987)

If we insist on visualizing a map of recurrences in Little Haiti, it will be noticed, too, that all these speakers are protected with improvised wire casings, mounted on casters mass-produced for large trashcans, carried in shopping carts, or tied to the building structure itself with rubber bands, tapes, chains, their own power cords, and other materials. The consistent reappearance of these traits begins to produce an archetype.

Gean Moreno and Ernesto Oroza, “Learning from Little Haiti,” e-flux journal (May 2009)

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