• ○ Bethlehem

    Msc Architecture | Graduation Bethlehem – from exploitation to ecosystem service is a project based on Sint Maarten in the Caribbean. The lower social classes of Sint Maarten experience trouble with their building culture, especially in combination with the reoccurring hurricanes and earthquakes. Vulnerable communities mostly rely on self or communal building, since both expertise and building materials currently need to be imported onto the island, which cannot be afforded by everyone. Research conducted into vernacular architectural principles provided strategies for creating a more sustainable domestic (self-)building culture. Main principles are defined as a building culture that embodies material appropriateness, climate responsiveness and socio-economic advantages. In combination with the interesting plantocracy heritage of Sint Maarten, the project results in the revitalization of an abandoned sugarcane plantation (Bethlehem) into a public park that cultivates natural building materials - mainly bamboos and grasses, similar to sugarcane part of the poaceae family. The plantations ruins are reactivated by assigning new functions to them related to the park. The main architectural focus is a building that provides education to the local communities on how to build with the materials now available from the park. The architecture showcases climate responsiveness, and can be build communally in a low tech way. This holistic project transforms a terrain that once exploited both people and land, into an ecosystem providing socio-economic diversification, building education and -materials to the surrounding neighbourhood. In doing so, the project aims to stimulate a transition towards a more sustainable (self)building culture on a neighbourhood scale.