Today, John McAslan + Partners and Allied London have announced the winner of an international student competition to design a music studio in Cité Soleil (Port-au-Prince), Haiti, on behalf of Wyclef Jean and his charity Yéle Haiti. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) competition was launched prior to the devastating earthquake on 12 January to help instigate micro-enterprise opportunities and job creation for at-risk youth in the Cité Soleil area.
The competition winner is Christopher Morgan from Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, who along with second place winner Tak Kei Yip, a RIBA Part II student at Foster + Partners, London; and third place winner Christopher Bradley, a Post Part 1 Experience student at Norton Mayfield Architects LLP, Sheffield; will be awarded a share of a £1000 prize fund which has been donated by Allied London.
Christopher Morgan’s winning design ‘Broadcast Studio’ reaches into the spirit of the Haitian people and aims to empower the people of Cité Soleil with the opportunity to ‘make music with life’. The design incorporates two performance spaces – one opening towards the adjacent park and nearby waterfront, and another enclosed space which connects to Radio Boukman, the local radio station. Offering itself as a place not only for musicians, but for all who wish to make a music community, ‘Broadcast Studios’ is a place that is always open to the public through events. Musicians can perform as they record in the studio, which is elevated over the Cité Soleil to symbolise the empowering role of music.
Tak Kei Yip’s proposal ‘Tent City’ music studio is an architectural translation of Haiti’s Tent City - a symbol of joy, unity and hope. This evocative use of the existing housing pattern impressed the judges.
Christopher Bradley’s ‘The Air Brick’ proposal is constructed from found materials and features an internal courtyard to be used as a recording or community performance area.
The ideas competition, which attracted 108 submissions from secondary/high school and university/college students from around the world, was judged on criteria including: their ability to act as a beacon for the local neighbourhood, to deliver ‘a lot’ for a limited budget, and for their economic, social and environmental sustainability. A shortlist of fifteen submissions was selected by a technical jury from John McAslan + Partners and Arup. The final winner, second and third placeholders were selected by Wyclef Jean and his team, and John McAslan.
Wyclef Jean, founder of Yéle Haiti, commented, "My concept for the Yéle Music Studio in Cité Soleil was to combine making music with vocational training for youth interested in the music business. After the earthquake the architectural competition to
design the studio became an ‘ideas’ competition. The winning design was able to engage the community by incorporating an outdoor performance space. This connection with the local community really caught the spirit of what Yéle is all about."
John McAslan, chairman of John McAslan + Partners, said, "Thank you to everyone who entered the competition and congratulations to the three winners for their highly innovative proposals, which were chosen from over 100 submissions of a very high standard indeed.
"While the competition was initiated prior to the devastating earthquake which took place in January, its spirit is very much in keeping with the recovery efforts underway in Haiti at the moment. It is hugely important that micro-enterprise is instigated as part of the current rebuilding - helping communities to work together to create long-term change, especially for young Haitians under 21 years, who make up half the population. Clearly, it may be some time before we can realise the potential of a project such as this, while the city recovers from the immediate destruction that has occurred, however we hope that our project inspires hope that anything is possible."