Ti Kay Pay in Haiti

The Sheltering Pine Institute and Builders Without Borders first building project in Haiti has been completed. Team leader and architect Martin Hammer and team member and lead builder Andy Mueller were in Port-au-Prince to construct the first strawbale building in Haiti. 

The Ti Kay Pay was designed to use as many in-country, repurposed and local materials as possible, to build on existing labor and skill resources, and to encourage the creation of local industry. From the foundation to the roof, material and building system choices were made with these goals in mind.

One enormous material resource that is largely untapped in Haiti is the rubble resulting from the collapsed buildings in the earthquake.

The Ti Kay Pay design uses crushed rubble in the foundation and in the stem wall in gravel bags. The same crushed rubble is also screened for fine aggregate in the plasters.

Pallet trusses and bamboo rafters provide the roof structure, covered with commonly available and durable sheets of corrugated steel. Wood from pallets, left from the vast number of aid shipments, has become a new in-country resource for Haiti.

This work in Haiti includes training and active involvement of people in the communities where the work occurs.This collaboration allows the development of appropriate solutions that are received and owned by the local population.

Donations. Please consider donations to support the beginning phases of this important work that will create local industries and employment, provide an inspired model of sustainable reconstruction, and that is expected in time to sustain itself. Donations now will make you a part of constructing ongoing rebuilding efforts in Haiti.Consider making the donation in honor or memory of a loved one, or as a meaningful gift for a family member or friend.  All donations are tax deductible as the Sheltering Pine Institute and Builders Without Borders are a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

To donate and to follow project by project progress, see BWB’s website at www.builderswithoutborders.org or The Sheltering Pine Institute at www.shelteringpineinstitute.org/

Form more information on this project please visit www.tikaypay.wordpress.com

Senp Kay Haiti.pdf

The Senp Kay, introduced by GreenSpace Collaborative, is the first structure in Haiti constructed utilizing prefabricated, tilt-up, plastic bottle filled panels and light straw-clay walls. It was designed and constructed as an innovative solution for low-tech, sustainable housing for low income communities in emergent nations.

Affordable housing is an issue of huge social relevance in Haiti, and indeed globally. Two years have passed since the earthquake in 2010 and thousands of Haitians continue to be without permanent shelter. There are over 800 camp settlements with an estimated .5 million people still homeless. Inadequate standards of construction and poor quality materials were the root causes of many of the collapsed buildings and loss of life. It is extremely important that reconstruction addresses these issues, and ensures that new buildings are earthquake resistant and provide protection in the face of future seismic events as well as hurricanes. The need for permanent, affordable, safe housing is pressing.

There is an abundance of precedents and inspiration using plastic bottles, tilt-up panels and straw-clay infill as wall systems; The World Earthship Biotecture movement utilizes plastic bottles as non-structural filler in walls. The Tilt-up method of wall construction (typically concrete) has been practiced since the early 1900’s, and variations of the straw-clay walls have been utilized for over 700 years in many parts of the world. All three methods have successfully evolved independently in their respective applications, and here they are joined as a hybrid solution for the conditions in Haiti.

The Senp Kay uses a modular wall design which incorporates the structural integrity of the Tilt-up panel, the creative repurposing of the bottle wall system and the simplicity of light straw-clay infill.  It is simple to mass produce on site, assemble and customize to one’s particular needs. The use of repurposed materials is a positive response to one of many environmental problems in Port-au-Prince. Haiti currently has no successfully operational recycling facilities and there are many refuse dumps where piles of waste lie as a potential source for innovative construction material use. Rice straw is plentiful in both the Artibonite and Les Cayes valleys. Straw is a rapidly renewable resource and 80% of the rice straw goes to waste, usually burned after harvest adding to Haiti’s already serious air pollution problem.

The Senp Kay explores the use of local and repurposed materials as a substitute to the widely accepted concrete block method of construction. It offers unprecedented, appropriate solutions to long-standing problems assocciated with the building of shelter in Haiti. Solutions that are not merely handed to the local population, but owned and built by them. This will take more than a single demonstration project, but the idea is to captivate the imagination of the Haitians who have contributed to the project and of those who follow.

Project Features

REPURPOSED LOCAL MATERIALS: The prototype utilizes many in-country materials; ubiquitous plastic bottles, plastic bags, crushed rubble, clay soil, bamboo, sand and rice straw.

FLEXIBLE DESIGN: Prefabricated panels allow for expansion in either two or four foot increments. Each wall can contain up to one-third door or window openings. Shed, gable, or hipped roofs can be used. In addition, the shed roof can extend from the rear of the house to accommodate an outdoor kitchen and a semi-enclosed shower with access to the habitable space.

EARTHQUAKE AND HURRICANE RESISTANT: The construction of this prototype demonstrates these wall systems have excellent resistance to earthquake and hurricane forces, both in-plane and out-of-plane. It utilizes a light and resilient structural system compared to the heavy and brittle concrete and block systems typically employed in Haiti. They can be part of a well-engineered structure capable of withstanding forces of a 7.0 or greater earthquake and 140 mph hurricane winds.

COMFORT: Solutions include building orientation, window/door location, shading, wall and ceiling insulation, and generous ventilation.

LOW COST: The Senp Kay is more sustainable and less carbon consumptive than the typical concrete block building in Haiti. Cost per square foot-$35USD. In this project, the main goals were to reduce the time and cost of the building process, and to allow community involvement.

FAST CONSTRUCTION: low-tech, easy to assemble structure, requiring only two skilled trades. The structural system is produced locally, is suited for mass production and provides job opportunities and skills development for the community.

EFFICIENT USE OF WOOD: Haiti urgently needs a long-term plan for reforestation and sustainably harvested lumber. The Senp Kay currently utilizes imported wood for its light weight wall and roof frame; however, it uses this wood very efficiently compared to other wood frame systems. It is expected that in-county wood could be utilized in the future. 





Andy Mueller, Designer/Builder, MA

Martin Hammer, Architect, Berkeley,CA

Henri Mannik, P.E., Oakland, CA

Dan Smith, DSA Architects, Berkeley, CA


GreenSpace Collaborative

Builders Without Borders

In-Country Resource

Haiti Communitere


Jean Louis Elie

Annio Baptise

Andy Mueller, GreenSpace Collaborative

Chad McLean

Tina Therrien, CamelBack Construction


To donate and to Senp Kay project, visit BWB’s website at www.builderswithoutborders.org  and click on the donation tab and specify Senp Kay contribution.

Building for today’s climate

As the United States faces the worst housing and financial crisis of its history, natural built homes offer sensible solutions as the modern day response to the inherent drawbacks of conventional home construction.  An overwhelming response to these challenges is homeowners choosing smaller, more energy efficient homes that respond to financial and environmental pressures of today.  Forward thinking builders and designers have successfully built beautiful, efficient natural homes with an important personal appeal to the client.  All this with careful consideration of the impact of construction on the earth and its resources. Where the conventional building paradigm adds complex rooflines and ornate trim to draw attention to the architecture, natural homes excel at a more personal and nuanced aesthetic.

The economic climate of yesterday produced quickly built homes designed for a fast investment return, certainly not longevity or long lasting quality. Today, natural built homes respond with a long term solution – a comfortable, healthy, functional, efficient and environmentally benign home for years to come.

Accessibility to modern building technologies and freedom from conventional design in the first development stages of natural building was a visceral response to changing energy and economic resources.  This more intuitive and non-linear approach to home building explores new lines and shapes in architecture. New systems of non-traditional heating and cooling, rainwater harvesting, and active/passive system design have proven to be of great appeal to the modern owner/builder. The popularity of natural building continues to grow and expand our archives of new information for a stronger foundation of knowledge. GreenSpace Collaborative is proud to work at the frontline of this vibrant movement building for a new world.