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Jacmel, Haiti

Size: 0.7 acres


Landscape architecture, Cultural landscape


Yifu Liu, Yuting Zhou

The project tries to install a centerpiece of landscape architecture in the heart of Jacmel, Haiti, for its process of reconstruction after the earthquake. With the strategic location of the piece, at a crossing road from the mountain to the sea, from the past to the future, the design proposed to reinstall a sense of connection to the landscape and the history, which have been disrupted from the fast urbanization and traumatic earthquake. Through the physical and rhetorical reconnection, it serves as an agent for the resilience of the city.

Jacmel is a historical city. Its urban forms derives from both colonial ideologies and the tectonics from Africa, making its unique character. Identities, played extremely important role in the post-colonial reconfiguration of the city. The identity of what we now know as the Haitian people is engrained in the urban forms and rituals enabled by the spaces.


Two major disruption to the city as a historical and ritual continuum are the overwhelming global capitalism and the earthquake in 2010. With the lifestyle and economy change, symbolized by the development of tourism, the originally holistic urban continuum is pixelated into a collage of elements that conflict with each other. And the earthquake, as a traumatic pause, introduced greater complexity into the city, thus, further pixelated the daily image of the residents. The pixelation of culture and image might incur the inability to reinstall the city since it cease to provide the synchrony in the city.


Landscape architecture has always been visionary. As of the 911 memorial, a symbolic void in drastic contrast to the higher-rising towers articulate the confident and resilience of the Big Apple. We believe the visionary strength of a piece of landscape architecture can act as a centerpiece to reintegrate the pieces of images to a holistic body of image and narrative, thus create the synchrony that the city needs for its recovery and development.


Understand the missing links between the images is important if we want to reconnect them. Physically, pieces of landscape elements are disconnected through the abandoning of the natural ravine once make the boundary of the city. And the images are also disconnected by the abandoning of the rituals, since the new urban forms are no longer designed for the rituals but for the efficiency and commerce.


We understand the reconnection of the cultural landscape required both physical interventions and rhetorical enunciation. Learning from the documentaries of ceremonies and rituals spaces for the traditions. We provide a schemes the reconnect the images physically and spiritually.


As for a physical space, we learn from the images of rituals and ceremonies of the Haitian culture, identified the scale, shading, boundary transparency and other configurations and translated them into the space that satisfied new uses in the city. Also, the strategic location of the projects allows the connection of different landscape to happen: the mountain and the sea, the civic and spontaneous, the poor and the rich, the tourist and local.


The rhetoric reconnection is accomplished through the adoption of a experience - time based narrative instead of a logic - hierarchy based reasoning. Understanding the reconstruction of synchronized urban image as a process that mirrors the ceremony allows us to articulate the process in a sequential order:


The establishment of a space: the Haitian culture believes that divinity live in the road crossing. The strategic location of the project is thus, registering the importance of the space.


The recreation of image: in the process of ceremony, ground is drawn to dedicate to different divinity, and the pattern of action in set. In our project, we understand the importance of built instance not solely as objects that functions, but the establishment of social interactions that integrated individuals through interactions that are enabled by the design.


The mirror and evolution: in the ceremony. Two priests would mimic each other, thus derives unexpected behaviors. This mirroring process is a anthropological metaphor to human history and culture. We understand the exposure of individuals to the others, aka the interaction, might not lead to a designated future that we can foresee now. But, as the actions represented by the priests, this interaction will definitely generate a momentum that the society is in need  to rise from the rubbles.

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