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Montesinos Orphanage and Environmental Technical School

The Montesinos Orphanage and Environmental Technical School is located in Titanyen, a rapidly growing informal settlement an hour’s drive from Port-au-Prince. Founded and directed by Father Charles, the orphanage is home to some 300 street orphans and the school accommodates another 500 children from Titanyen and surrounding areas. In addition to the academic curriculum, Father Charles, an immensely dedicated parish priest, seeks to provide the children with the skills and mindset to become the future environmental stewards of Haiti.


The Design Build project began with the generation of a master plan for the orphanages’ school, residential, and agricultural facilities, which provide both a K-12 education as well as adult education on sustainable agricultural practices, building, and infrastructure. The master plan includes design and educational practices to guide the restoration of 30 acres for the school and orphanage, and organic farm, and micro industries, as well as sustainable infrastructure to address the water and waste cycles of the community. Students then focused their efforts on the design and construction of a shaded porch area for the girls' dormitories, to provide an outdoor space of respite from the harsh sun, rain and wind that challenge the living conditions inherent to the site. 

Images and Plans

Technical Description

The Montesinos Orphanage Design Build project exemplifies an innovative solution to climatic conditions using building materials common to the host region. Steel and corrugated metal are strong, durable and readily available in Haiti. Furthermore, local builders are very familiar with these materials and are thus capable and equipped to handle maintenance and repairs. Two inch (5.08cm) steel angles were used for the columns, roof grid, additional roof structure, and the benches. The roof is sheathed with 27” wide corrugated sheathing, angled and oriented for optimal water run-off and resistance to wind damage. Prior to departure, students at PSU designed and welded 6” steel column brackets. On site, a template for the steel columns was drawn on the concrete floor. The roof is designed as a series of modular roof frame. The first framing system was welded on the floor templates and then clamped to the columns and welded in place. A second roof structure was then attached to this, forming angles that are spanned by purlins to create the skeleton of the roof and gutter assembly. A zigzag stripe of corrugated roofing was then attached between purlins, oriented parallel to act as a gutter system. The remaining corrugated roofing spans the purlins, such that the decking corrugations direct water runoff into the main gutter system. Three-foot deep reinforced concrete footings were poured on site, an important consideration given the seismic conditions of the site. The project was also heavily reliant on both purchased and rented generators to power welding and angle-grinding.



Center for Public Interest DesignPortland State University
Montesinos Orphanage and Environmental School


Project Start:2012
Year of Completion:2013