Laura Smits has been working in Haiti since 2012. First working on participatory urban design and mapping in informal neighbourhoods of Port au Prince with Architecture for Humanity; then for UN Habitat documenting informal urbanisation processes and working with government on spatial planning and housing policy, and now for Cordaid on a project about upgrading and activating public space.
In Haiti, the Canaan area north of Port au Prince is a fascinating example of informal urbanisation. In less than five years, the area went from being uninhabited to housing around 150,000 people. Analysing the institutional and social processes at play in the settlement of the area can provide us with valuable insights in informal urbanisation, but also is key in developing appropriate ‘interventions’ for the area.