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Yestermorrow's Design Build Class in the Dominican Republic 2008



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Yestermorrow Design Build in the Dominican Republic
Women's Group for the Future of Rincon
Rincon, Samaná Peninsula , Dominican Republic
Caribbean Design Build
Construction Supervisor on Design Build Project in DR
Rincon Beach




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About Yestermorrow Design Build School

Yestermorrow Design Build School, Warren, VermontThe Yestermorrow Design/Build School is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational institution located in Warren, Vermont. The school is a dynamic learning community exploring and teaching the integrated creative process of designing and building a sustainable future.

The School was founded in 1980 on the belief that the best built environment depends on the joint cooperation of designers, builders and homeowners. Our goal is to empower people to unleash their creative spirit by researching, preserving and teaching the integrated design/build process. By teaching students to express their values and lifestyle through this process, we foster a self-awareness that reconnects people to their communities, their natural environment and to each other. We help create healthy, sustainable communities by helping people to take steps to “make their own place.”

Rincon Bay, SamanaAbout the Rincon Community
as noted by Michael Menelli, Peace Corps Volunteer

El Rincón is located in the municipality of Las Galeras on the northeastern tip of the peninsular province of Samaná, in the northeastern region of the country. Within the municipality of Las Galeras there are at least 15 smaller recognized communities where the vast majority of the 10,000 people that inhabit the area live and work in the agricultural sector, though fishing and tourism are also noticeably present in the local economy. In the municipality of Las Galeras, the easternmost extension of the Northern Mountain range meets the warm waters of the Caribbean Rhinocerous Iguanas at the neighboring Iguana FarmSea and crashes down into the pristine waters of the Bahia de Rincón, making up a chain of some of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches in the Caribbean.  The most important natural resources of the municipality are those very beaches, as its tranquility and natural beauty brings thousands upon thousands of tourists to it's coasts each year.  Among all of the beaches of Las Galeras, Playa Rincón renowned as the most attractive, as it lies on the northern-edge of expansive coconut forests on a 4 km stretch of white sand nestled between two enormous mountain peaks, reaching out deep into the bay's coastal shelf and it's coral reefs.

Rincon, SamanaThe community of El Rincón is small; approximately 130 families (making up approximately 570 habitants) are located directly at the mouth of the Bahia de Rincón (Bay of Rincón), at 75 meters above sea level the last community before reaching the ocean in the route to the famously beautiful Playa Rincón.  According to a community diagnostic realized by Peace Corps Volunteer Michael Menelli together with the Women's’ Club of the Future of El Rincón  (based on 100 interviews), 48% of the population in El Rincón is 18 years of age or younger and the average monthly family income is about 5,500 pesos (US$165) coming from agriculture, remittances from abroad, and a small percentage of the population that operates micro-businesses.

Rincon, SamanaThe history of El Rincón is quite recent, as it was virtually uninhabited before 1957, when then-dictator Trujillo established agricultural colonies in rural Samaná, granting land titles to farmers willing to colonize the area.  The prospect of land ownership attracted many poor landless farmers from the Cibao as well as residents of the then small maritime village of Samaná seeking tracks of land for their families.  Demographically speaking, El Rincón has largely remained the same over the past 50 years, a small farming community made up equally of families descending from the Cibao and Samaná.  In 1999 with the completion of the highway between San Francisco de Macorís and Las Galeras (as well as a paved road reaching from that highway through villages en route to Playa Rincón) the area began to see a development in through-traffic from cargo trucks carrying crops from villages to the cities as well as tourists headed to the beaches of Rincón.  Shortly thereafter, electricity lines were taken out to the community, though to this day the eastern part of the Samaná peninsula lacks any form of potable water aside from collected rain water.

Playa Rincon, SamanaToday, despite its fortuitous location at the entrance to Playa Rincón, the community of El Rincón suffers from an unfortunate paradox and remains one of the more marginalized areas within the province, a result of various geographic and socioeconomic factors.  Although its remote location and distance from the bustling economic centers of the region gives its surroundings an enchanting beauty, this very distance coupled with a complete lack of groundwater has disconnected its population from a more profound socioeconomic development, restricting the community to a small-scale subsistence agricultural economy fed by recollected rain water.  Most families in El Rincón earn only small-gains on the sale of whatever crops their conucos (small family farms) yield that they don't consume themselves.  The vast majority of the males in the community work as seasonal farmers and almost all females work maintaining the home and their children.

Maria, President, Women's Group of RinconAbout Women's Group for the Future of Rincon

Driven by an absence of local government and concern for the welfare of their children and families, the women of the Rincon community began meeting together to discuss ways to improve their collective situation in the early 1980s. Meetings are held weekly in a structured and formal manner, and are frequently attended by Peace Corps Volunteers and other local and national NGO representatives. It is both important and interesting to note that the Women's Group is the only assembly of residents in Rincon working to improve their community's reality; there is no men's group, youth group or labor union.

Laguna del Diablo, Rincon, SamanaIn recent years the Women's Group has moved beyond merely talking about issues, and has undertaken a number of micro business projects with significant assistance and funding from Proyecto Guariquén, a NGO based in nearby Las Galeras and supported by the Italian Ministry of the Exterior. Projects have included water harvesting; buying, selling and training for the use of sewing machines; and fabricating ice and fruit juice to sell in the community and passers-bye. Their most recent endeavor is their most significant and holds the most promise for both generating income and attracting domestic and international tourist to Rincon.

View en route to Laguna del DiabloThe Women's Group has designed a horseback riding - hiking trek to the nearby Laguna del Diablo. Together with Project Guariquén, and help from the United Nations and the Peace Corps, the Women's group today has constructed necessary infrastructure at the Laguna (Kitchen and dining area, a latrine and a dock for swimming) to host up to 45 tourists in a typical voyage out to the Laguna where they have a traditional style lunch prepared for them at right there. Trained guides wait at the Women's Group excursion office located at the Rincon intersection to escort visitors over one of three mountain passes to the secluded, back country lagoon.

Design Build in the Dominican Republic with 4TClass Summary

This 17 day design/build adventure will focus on a rural community project in El Rincón located on the northeastern tip of the peninsular province of Samaná, in the northeastern region of the Dominican Republic. El Rincon is a small arid agricultural community, the last stop before reaching the famously beautiful Playa Rincon. 

Our project will be to work with the Woman’s Group to create a gathering area where the both the Design Build in the Dominican Republic with 4Tlocal community and the interment eco-tourist community can congregate. The design challenge of this project is to make this site more inviting and visible for tourist vehicles that pass by on their way to Rincon Beach, as well as create a shaded public place for the residents of El Rincon. The site is in the middle of the town near the main crossroads.

The first third of the class will lead students through a design process for this community design/build project. The design process begins with individual designs which then merge into a number of collaborative designs, and finally culminate in a single design emanating from the collective ideas of the participants. The remainder of the course is an intensive building sprint to build what has been designed.

Design Build in the Dominican Republic with 4TThe class will work with local materials that are environmentally appropriate. The goals of the class are to bring students through the design/build process showing how the designing and building process continually inform each other throughout the project.



Design Build in the Dominican Republic with 4TDates

January 3 (Thursday) through January 20 (Sunday), 2008




Kyle Bergman on Rincon BeachInstructors

Kyle Bergman
M.Arch. VA Polytechnic Inst.
Kyle is an architect relentlessly eager to be out of the office. He has designed and built houses with his own firm, Bergman Design Team, and collaborated on diverse projects, both in the States and abroad. He created and moderated an architectural lecture series about the process of design/build for the Smithsonian Institute, and has contributed to the design and execution of architecture exhibits at the Russian National Architecture Museum in Moscow. Kyle has taught international design/build classes in Russia, Mexico, and Dominican Republic and in the United States. In 1999 he was frustrated with the lack of resource material for quality new products, so Kyle founded a publishing company that created Alt Spec - a visual resource for architects and designers. He is currently producing a play in New York titled, “The Glass House”. Kyle lived in New York and Vermont.

Sandy Lawton cleaning up after a hard day of pouring concreteAlexander "Sandy" Lawton
M.Arch, U of Virginia
Sandy is the owner of ArroDesign, a local design/build firm established in 1985. Trained as an architect with 16 years of practical construction experience, Sandy can be described as a master builder, taking a project from the design stage and seeing it all the way through the entire construction process. He enjoys exploring the many realms of his business, including concrete, metal, timberframing and new technology.

Design Build in the Dominican Republic with 4TClass Size & Cost

Min Amount of Students: 10
Max Amount of Students: 25

Cost: $2,275 (airfare to Dominican Republic not included)


Design Build in the Dominican Republic with 4TClass Schedule

January 3, 2008 (Thursday)

  • Meeting Point at Santo Domingo Las Americas Airport (SDQ)
  • Airport transfer to Colonial Zone.
  • Meeting Point at Hotel in Colonial Zone.
  • Class Orientation.
  • Dinner in Colonial Zone.
  • Accommodations in Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo.

Rincon Beach at SunsetJanuary 4, 2008 (Friday )

  • Breakfast in Hotel.
  • Transportation to Samaná and Site (5 Hours)
  • Lunch on the road .
  • Orientation and Tour of Camp and Facilities.
  • Tour of Community.
  • Dinner in Camp.
  • Tent Camping accommodations.

Design Build in the Dominican Republic with 4TJanuary 5, 2008 (Saturday) through January 8, 2008 (Tuesday)

  • Breakfast and Dinner in Camp.
  • Design on Site (lunch on site)
  • Tent Camping accommodations.


Design Build in the Dominican Republic with 4TJanuary 9, 2008 (Wednesday) through January 17, 2008 (Thursday)

  • Breakfast and Dinner in Camp.
  • Build on Site (lunch on site)
  • Tent Camping accommodations.


Design Build in the Dominican Republic with 4TJanuary 18, 2008 (Friday)

  • Breakfast and Dinner in Camp.
  • Finishing touches on Site (lunch on site)
  • Celebration and Presentation of Project to Community
  • Tent Camping accommodations.


January 19, 2008 (Saturday)

  • Breakfast in Camp.
  • Design Build in the Dominican Republic with 4T
    Transportation Back to Santo Domingo
  • Farewell Dinner.
  • Hotel accommodations in Colonial Zone.

January 20, 2008 (Sunday)

  • Breakfast in hotel.
  • Airport transfer.
  • Departure.


Hotel Mercure Comercial, Santo DomingoHotel Mercure Comercial, Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo
Nights 1 and 19
Located in the heart of the historic and picturesque Colonial Zone, the Mercure Comercial is only two blocks from the famed "First Cathedral" and surrounded by cafes, shops, ancient ruins, and modern convenience. This building was completely refurbished in 2000 and is the best starting point for a visit of all historical monuments of the old town center. 30 km from the airport. Rooms are clean and comfortable with a/c, cable television, telephone, room safe, and private bathrooms. A full service bar and restaurant on located off the lobby on the Conde pedestrian walkway.

Eureka Tetragon 1610Rincon Beach (camping)
Las Galeras, Samaná Peninsula
Nights 2 through through 18
Primitive camping on one of Conde Naste's "most beautiful beaches in the world" in 8, 6 and 4-person tents.

Roughing It 4T Style

Design Build in the Dominican Republic with 4T

Rincon Bay Supervising Construction Home Sweet Home After a day of concrete and rebar


All elements of this program are pending final confirmation.
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