Architect John McAslan has proposed building a new suburb to replace devastated suburbs in the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince.
McAslan has been linked to Haiti for a number of years, through his work with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and was due to attend a meeting there to discuss progress on a number of schools projects last week.
Instead McAslan flew to Miami, to begin drawing-up plans for the rebuilding of the country, which has lost what little infrastructure it had.
“We will be thinking about different phases of reconstruction, but the immediate aim is to save lives,” he said.
McAslan said the worst devastation in the capital would have been suffered in the suburb of Pétionville, which is located: “On the deforested hillsides to the south-east the capital Port-au-Prince.
“The shacks have all collapsed – one on top of the other. It could be an idea to rebuild outside the existing city on flat ground,” he said.
McAslan said that despite the low cost of living in Haiti, construction was relatively expensive compared to the West, and this will have contributed to the catastrophe.
“If the average Haitian earns just 3% of the average British citizen, construction costs are only one-tenth the costs of here, so this makes construction some 3-5 times as expensive. So you can imagine why designing for this type of disaster has not been a priority in the past,” he said.
He sympathised with the relief effort. “Port-au-Prince has 3M people and very fragile infrastructure and the emergency recovery will be hard to navigate,” he said.