The Republic of Haiti has launched an international contest to rebuild its ruined National Palace in Port-au-Prince (Deadline: 31 October)
Open to locals and international teams led by a Haiti-based practice, the competition seeks proposals to rebuild the former official residence of the president of Haiti, which was reduced to ruins by a major earthquake seven years ago.
The winning team will reconstruct the 1920 structure and submit proposals to rehabilitate its former functions, deliver new administrative spaces, upgrade the site layout and regenerate the wider Champ-de-Mars district.
National Palace, Haiti
Source: Image by United Nations Development Programme
Announcing the contest, Haitian president Jovenel Moïse said: ‘The new National Palace must make the link between history, culture and the future of the nation. The realisation of a work of this magnitude requires dialogue and communication with citizens to hear their opinions and develop their sense of ownership of all stages of reconstruction.
‘We must learn all the lessons of the 12 January earthquake and [be] vigilant in order to take into account all construction safety standards. The architecture of the palace has made many generations dream [and I want] to reconstruct the exterior facades of the palace in the same way. But inside, there is a need for new accommodations to meet the needs of the organs and services of the presidency of the republic while respecting the construction of a public building.’
The National Palace was completed in 1920 by Haitian architect Georges Baussan, who had won second place in a contest for the structure eight years earlier.
The innovative reinforced concrete building was destroyed by a magnitude 7 earthquake that struck the Caribbean island on 12 January 2010, killing more than 100,000 people and flattening huge numbers of buildings.
National Palace, Haiti
Source: Image by Trocaire
The National Palace saw its cupola and columned central pavilion collapse during the earthquake and became a global symbol of the destruction. It was demolished five years ago to make way for a new structure.
Haiti’s newly elected president promised to rebuild the landmark earlier this year and convened a special working group to advance the project. Members include historian Georges Michel, civil engineer Clément Bélizaire and the architect Daniel Elie.
The contest language is French and three winners will receive prizes.
How to apply
The deadline for applications is midday local time, 31 October
Angle des Rue Magny et Capois
Visit the competition website for more information
Berlin City Palace case study: Q&A with Franco Stella
The Italian architect discusses lessons learned rebuilding the Berlin City Palace
How will your competition-winning Berlin City Palace project restore a ruined building of national and civic importance?
Berliner Schloss (Berlin Palace) was the name of the lost building, begun in 1443 as the residence of the princes of Brandenburg, transformed into a Baroque palace at the beginning of the 18th century as the residence of the kings of Prussia, and later also of the German emperors, damaged by Second World War bombing and finally razed to the ground for ideological reasons in 1950 by the holders of political power of the GDR. Berlin’s main squares, streets and buildings—which are still standing—had the palace as a point of reference: the monumental axis Unter den Linden began from it and ended with it; the Museum Island, where during the 19th century and first decades of the 20th the main museums of the city were built, was the park ‘garden of delights’ of the Palace.
View of the reconstructed west and south wings
Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?
Berliner Schloss-Humboldtforum (Berlin Palace – Humboldt Forum) is the name of the new Baroque and modern building, that will be a ‘meeting place for the cultures of the world’ dedicated to the Humboldt brothers. The building is a composition of old reconstructed and new elements, in the form of a palace with three courtyards as public places and six house-portals as open town-gates. The ‘faithful to the original’ reconstruction of the ‘Baroque Palace’– the most important part of the destroyed building – was decided 2002 by the German Parliament; the new construction was designed from my competition-project of 2008. As the old Baroque building, the new one will be a rectangular palace with all its numerous portals conceived as open town-gates and with its courtyards (one reconstructed and two new constructed) conceived as public places. Through the palace’s rebuilt portals, the city places join with the buildings’ courtyards into a great public piazza in the heart of Berlin. The redesigned interior spaces are furnished with modern technical equipment for the museums and any other numerous public functions of the Humboldt Forum.
View of the reconstructed south wing and of the modern east wing
What advice would you have to contest participants on restoring Haiti’s ruined national palace?
I think that the reconstruction (a ‘faithful to the original’ reconstruction, not a ‘modern interpretation’ of it) of the urban characteristics – as the volumes and the facades are – of a destroyed monument are an unreplaceable instrument for the collective memory and for the identity of a place.
The great Hall Agora