La Reference

Structural Designer

Eckersley O'Callaghan

Client Name



Ganthier, Haiti

JSC Construction

Studio PHH Architects


A charitable engineering project to support the construction of a new secondary school in Haiti, providing new class rooms to 150 students. Situated in a highly seismic zone and an area prone to hurricanes, the school's resilience was paramount.

Judge's comment:

Being designed to accommodate earthquakes, hurricanes, temperature extremes, limited availability of labour and materials, and a lack of funding to develop all of the school’s aspirations, La Reference is truly built in extreme conditions.

The design of this first phase of the project has developed as a modular concept that will be followed on future phases. The only materials available locally are concrete, steel, hollow concrete blocks, and corrugated metal.

Seismic design has been tackled using reinforced blockwork, carefully detailed for practicality and ductility to resist seismic forces.

Particularly impressive to the judges was the way in which the engineers communicated their design – using a limited palette of details, rationalising reinforcing bar sizes, and presenting their design in such a way that their drawings could be understood by any of the workforce in spite of personnel often speaking only one of three different languages.

There is no shop drawing process in Haiti, so the engineers prepared fully detailed drawings for the roof trusses, providing step-by-step instructions on the installation process. The first phase of 2000m2 was completed in only nine months and was immediately occupied by 150 new students.

Contact us

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7235 4535
Email: [email protected]

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