CTA Collaborates on Sierra Leone Health Clinic with Architects Without Borders

Engineers Without Borders has asked Architects Without Borders – Seattle to design a new health care facility in Sierra Leone specializing in services for women and children. In this effort, Buzz has assembled a talented new team of design-minded volunteers to work on this project: Mahboobeh, Megan, Alex, John, and Logan. The clinic is in a small village in the south of Sierra Leone in the Wai community. It replaces a previous clinic that was destroyed during the 11-year civil war. Now finally, the community is looking forward to once again having a much needed healthcare facility.
While AWB designs the clinic, EWB is responsible for its funding and construction.

The clinic is designed to be self-sufficient in terms of energy and resources. Electricity will be generated from solar photo-voltaic cells collecting the all-day sun, rain water will be harvested and diverted into large cisterns for clean drinking water, gardens will be provided on site, and wastes will be composted to the extent that they can be.

The massing of the buildings is broken up to take advantage of the prevailing breezes for ventilation. The building forms create inter-spaces that resemble the community itself, and encourage personal interactions while also affording privacy. Spaces for women and children, and the general public are separated to follow cultural norms.

The building will use local materials as much as possible, using locally-made brick as the predominant element, along with some concrete and steel. The labor will be completed by local trades.

This is our Phase One, designing the plan and building forms only to a point where construction means and methods, and thus costs, can be more clearly brought into focus. The upcoming Phase Two will continue to finalize the schematic designs.


Update on CTA’s work in Haiti

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Our Architects Without Borders project, a large campus-style secondary and trade school outside of Cabaret, Haiti, is coming to a conclusion! 

We’ve been working for over a year to provide drawings and images for the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, our client and current administer of eight other schools throughout Haiti.  These images describe a large, rural, 3,000 student campus-style secondary and trade school.  The program includes classroom buildings, science labs, and shop space, along with dormitories, a chapel, auditorium, and cafeteria.  

Community and sustainability are hallmarks of this project – fundamental ideas inherent in the campus layout that impact the landscape and building designs. 

Such a school would provide a continuous stream of graduates, bringing the benefits of an educated population into the community, affecting both the immediate area of Cabaret, and Haiti, country-wide.  It is our hope that these drawings will help the Brothers describe their vision of this community to potential partners and funders.

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The drawings show a campus arranged in identifiable and interconnected communities, drawing on historical “lakou” arrangements found in rural Haiti.  The architecture further shows buildings and a landscape utilizing sustainable design concepts.  Our project aims to revitalize the landscape; to capture and direct water with streambeds and cisterns; to provide learning and engagement opportunities to students, staff, and guests. 

Buzz is the Project Manager for the project, aided by a competent and committed team of volunteers.  CTA Design Builders is pleased to have provided meeting space and support services.

Please feel free to view the project below.  The introduction explains our goals and identifies our team members, and the following pages present the project in terms of what we have to work with, how we will do it, and what it all will look and feel like.

  Concept Package for Canado school in Caberet, Haiti

CTA Design Builders AWB Haiti project ideas delivered!

Buzz-alert: “We’ve got a guy in Haiti!”

One of my Architects Without Borders (AWB-Seattle) design team members is in Haiti now, presenting our design  ideas for a new school to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart!  Conceptually, the project’s layout is based on the traditional Haitian concept of “lakou”.  Whereas the urban Haitian landscapes are derived from the French and Spanish Colonial gridirons, here we have the more topographically determined landscape and layouts of agricultural villages and informal settlements.  Such arrangements grouped families and then communities together, for security, and with central gathering spaces where shared facilities might exist, such as a well or a special shade tree.  Here, in these central gathering spaces, people mingled, socialized, traded, and learned.  This school too utilizes lakou, where students, faculty, and staff mingle in courtyards and exchange or debate ideas in an informal setting, which is so important for a well-rounded education.

CTA Design Builders | Haiti Drwg 2014

The site is dry with brush. We intend to re-invigorate site vegetation by capturing rainwater in ponds while creating stream beds throughout the site; we will capture more rainwater on 

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roofs and direct this water into cisterns for community use.  Further, we will use a type of horizontal brush layering on the slopes to capture water and runoff, creating new soil building opportunities to help prevent erosion.  A site with ponds and streams will also provide areas for repose and mediation, study and appreciation.

There is ample sunlight and roof area to utilize solar photovoltaic technology to power the campus.

Here is a photo of the team on site. More updates from Haiti to follow!

Buzz sayz: “Come join us at the AWB Spring Dinner & Fundraiser Wed March 19th!”

My Seattle Architects Without Borders group is having a dinner and fundraiser next week at the Seattle Impact Club.

This year, we have an extraordinary Nepal connection; Dan Mazur, the world famous Mt. Everest mountain climber and guide, will be our guest speaker. In addition to his fantastic extreme climbing stories, Dan will also be speaking about a critical project he brought to us last year regarding a convent in serious need located on the severe slopes of Everest: the dilapidated and nearly uninhabitable but still active Deboche Nunnery.

For more information on this event and the story of the project, go to:


We’d love to have you come so you can get to know us and see what we’re doing right here in Seattle, and in such places as Haiti, Peru, Nepal, and Kenya.

Architects Without Borders is a group of local Seattle Architects, Landscape Architects, Designers, Engineers, and other interested folks who  come together to provide pro bono design services for communities in need.  Our work is functional, sustainable, pragmatic and hopefully, uplifting!

Thanks very much,


PS: if you can join us, please purchase your tickets here: 


Announcing –Architects Without Borders: School Project in Cabaret, Haiti

Buzz and his Seattle Architects Without Borders (AWB-S) volunteer team are now working on a new school in Haiti. The group has been studying the landforms, microclimate, building precedents, adjacent sites, and Haitian history and heritage. Their studies illuminated the deeply rooted model of the “Lakou” and its importance in the conceptual design of the campus. As a result, AWB has integrated the post-plantation Haitian idea of Lakou, or the extended and egalitarian family compound, into the design; this traditional concept is being celebrated, utilized and expanded upon.

Located west of Port Au Prince in the town of Cabaret, the school is situated on 17 acres of hilly but barren hillside just a mile or two outside of town.  The school will provide a high school or post-secondary education and vocational training for 3,000 students, with some students and faculty living on site.  See one of the site plan options they’re refining:

C:UsersKathrynDropboxAWB_CabaretCabaret School-client suppl






Directly from Buzz and the AWB team:

 “Our goal is to create an environmentally sustainable school and community, respectfully blended with the Haitian culture. Through this endeavor, we are hoping this school will be an accessible resource for the local community and will help educate and train young adults throughout Haiti in sustainable practices.”

To meet this goal, we are harnessing the energy of the sun for power; we are capturing the rainfall in ponds and cisterns, and bringing its life into the community; we are disposing of wastes through constructed and natural wetlands. We are creating shaded courtyards and connected gathering spaces; in essence, adopting the idea of “lakou” in our design and practices, and encouraging community in the Haitian way.

 Our immediate purpose is to provide conceptual design services for the sponsoring Haitian non-profit group to aid in fundraising; it will take vision, commitment, perseverance and financial backing to see this project come to fruition. Our group is working to provide the tools necessary to visualize the project and grasp its importance.

It is all very exciting.

Inspiration, Empowerment & Architecture

Our team at Architects Without Borders have taken on a project to design a school in a particularly impoverished area outside of Port Au Prince, Haiti. We have just finished the first phase of our work which is to provide our client, a private non-profit foundation, a brochure that talks about the project and presents ideas on how to achieve certain goals. Our client will be using this brochure in fundraising activities and in getting the local community excited about the possibilities that lay before them. Our first task has been to figure out what is needed and then we work on how to go about doing this.

But the school is more than a school as we know it – it is of course a place of learning, but it is also a truly sustainable refuge, soundly built with local labor and materials; that teaches health and hygiene; a landscape that cools, that teaches; and a series of buildings that optimize the equatorial sun for energy and captures the abundant rain for washing, for drinking, and recycles wastes; a place that by its design creates community with gathering spaces to foster exchange; and a thoughtful architecture, that truly INSPIRES…

We consider all of this “Empowerment through Design”.

Below is the full project brief.

Empowerment Through Design by CTA Design Builders