Lakou

Photo by Hydro Cahos

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The Lakou is a Haitian environmental pattern–part of “Haitian Kreyol Living Wisdom”(“Kreyol Entelijans Viv” in Kreyol).  It is part of the structure of Haitian towns–“Kreyol Settlement Structure”.

Neighboring clusters of residences need a semi-public open space that allows for sharing of infrastructure and other resources.

In Kreyol, the shared yard or courtyard is called “Lakou”. Traditionally this space accommodates the sharing of material items, chores, food, space and child care.  It has been said that the Lakou, even more than the buildings around it, is the real home of those who live there.  In rural settings Lakou is the yard of the family or extended family, the communal work space of the farm compound.

 

In towns and cities Lakou are often at the interior of the block.  In both contexts a more public Lakou can emerge as the center of a neighborhood, connected to intimately scaled streets.  For some Haitians, Lakou is negatively associated with poverty, Vodun, and rural nostalgia.  The opportunity is to employ the critical power of this communal arena, and bring it into the dynamic reality of 21st century–the “Nouvo Lakou”.

Therefore:

The dedicated semi-public space of the Lakou accommodates the sharing of social and spatial resources.

Residential “Galri” (porches) front onto the Lakou.

 

The “Lakou” are connected to larger urban structure by residential streets.

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