On behalf of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, especially the students who now present the culmination of their M. Arch education through their thesis, we extend our gratitude to the guest critics who have generously joined us on Thursday, December 22, 2022:

Erin Besler, Garnette Cadogan, Sean Canty, Beatriz Colomina, Natalia Dopazo, Jenny French, Antonio Furgiuele, Caroline Jones, Ang Li, Diana Martinez, Lauren Pacheco, Julian Rose, John Todd, Ivonne Santoyo Orozco, Hans Tursack, Matthew Okazaki, Mark Wigley, and Alpha Yacob Arsano.

MIT Master’s
of Architecture

Fall 2022

Disastrous Opportunities: Designing for post-hurricane adaptivity using low carbon construction methods on the destroyed site of Belle Creole, St Martin: a construction research center.

Sacha Moreau

Thesis Committee 

Miho Mazereeuw

Andrew Scott
Ginevra D’Agostino 

Disasters are perceived as singular apocalyptical events that rely on vernacular shifts that are often too slow to adapt before the next hurricane hits. This thesis redefines hurricanes as an opportunity to innovate in new ways of building that take advantage of the ensuing scarcities and limitations. The site is located on the island of St Martin where I grew up. After speaking to multiple actors in the government and the building industry, their concerns denote a need for adaptivity to future disasters to enable a new sustainable economy that is not constrained by European and French regulations and empowers the local government to act on its own to explore methodologies of resilience. This thesis answers some of these issues by re-designing the site of belle creole an abandoned hotel resort and transforming it into a material and disaster resilience research center for construction testing and certification. By focusing on an existing site that has undergone many hurricanes, I propose a symbiotic intervention for building re-use where new, low-carbon and site-specific re-sources come to support existing damaged architecture. The proposal blends the old with the new to preserve history while innovating for the future and tackle its challenges. New architectural interventions using local materials become an opportunity to tackle systemic issues while reducing material waste and labor. The new center will help expand European regulation, grow skills and jobs in the construction and sustainability industry and explore solutions to climate change’s impact on the territory.