Volunteer Project – Building Resilience in the Face of Extreme Climate Conditions

Xtreme Architecture organisation 2022/23

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017, which left more than 80% of the buildings on Sint Maarten damaged, a dedicated group of 65 architecture master students from TU Delft initiated Xtreme Architecture field trip. This organized research team is committed to providing innovative building and design solutions for areas prone to climatic disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes, focusing on the Sint Maarten and Saba regions.

Recognizing the urgent need for resilient structures in the face of regular climatic challenges, the Xtreme Architecture project aims to strengthen communities and explore unconventional approaches to enhance earthquake and hurricane resilience. In November 2022, 25 students embarked on a week-long research trip to Sint Maarten and Saba to conduct on-site analyses and engage with the local communities.

During the research trip, the group visited various plots, conducted small-scale practical testing, and gathered crucial data. This information was later taken back to the Netherlands to inform the design process, ensuring that the solutions are not only innovative but also tailored to the specific climate conditions of the region. The overarching goal is to create circular and sustainable designs that address the unique challenges faced by these communities. One distinctive aspect of the Xtreme Architecture project is its commitment to collaboration with the locals. Instead of imposing solutions from afar, the project seeks to understand and work together with the community. By exchanging knowledge and ideas with local residents and government agencies, the students gain valuable insights into the lifestyles and challenges faced by those living in areas prone to extreme climate conditions.

In addition to their research efforts, the students took part in volunteering activities during their stay in Sint Maarten. They chose to contribute to the renovation of Vicky’s Keys, a volunteering center that also serves as a warm and friendly eco hostel. Vicky’s Keys, which had faced damage from Hurricane Irma, has the ambitious goal of becoming self-sufficient and sustainable. The students’ involvement in the renovation not only contributed to the center’s recovery but also provided them with a firsthand understanding of the impact of extreme weather events on local infrastructure.

Xtreme Architecture’s approach reflects a holistic understanding of resilience, blending innovative design with community engagement and sustainable practices. By fostering collaboration and learning from the locals, the project endeavors to create lasting solutions that empower communities to withstand and recover from the challenges posed by extreme climate conditions.

Learn more about EXTREME Architecture or go to https://extremearchitecture.nl/about

The Keys Market development continued


Marlin Yard Foundation

Stichting Marlin Yard is continuing development of The Keys Market initiative on Sint Maarten.

Stichting Marlin Yard supports and leads the national Love Your Local Market campaign. This campaign aims to attract (young) market traders and also aims to highlight the importance that markets play in the heart of the local community. Not only for retail but as valuable community assets that provide the focal point of our village centres. Love Your Local Market fortnights are going to be held in The Keys.

Why The Keys Market came to be

On the Dutch side of Sint Maarten in the village The Keys there is an initiative called The Keys Market.

Natural disasters such as hurricanes Luis (1995), Lenny (1999) and Irma (2017) and the Covid-19 pandemic caused a huge economic shock on Sint Maarten. Natural disasters caused for businesses and schools to shut down, island borders to close and putting humanity under lockdown during 2020. Traveling and conducting business as how we used to has changed. Unfortunately this new era is not over, with pandemic cases continuing to mount to date in 2022. The successive crisis aftermath not only shows a negative economic impact. It caused the rebuild and recovery of Sint Maarten to slow down and even stop in 2020. Sint Maarten is fighting for her position to sustain herself as before the crisis, all the while the island culture is diminishing.  

For years Sint Maarten nature and inhabitants proved to be resilient in gaining back that Caribbean relaxed atmosphere accompanied by the calculated hustle and bustle to support the daily sufficient living. The crucial part is that the Sint Maarten community is forced to apply a new style of living because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Keys Market concept is developed to primarily match the local way of sufficient living but its main focus is combining local economy with green-tourism. Sustainability, and the application of the circular economy concept is of paramount importance at The Keys Market.

Marlin Yard Foundation not only envisions a strong revival of the Sint Maarten community but made it a mission to accelerate the movement towards a green economy at The Keys Market by putting Sint Maartens advantages to use. A few advantages are that Sint Maartens has a rich history being an island with a Dutch and French border which is the foundation to its current multikulti society. Sint Maarten community exists because of the 100+ nationalities living on this island. This is also the reason why it is proclaimed Cuisine Capital in the Caribbean for its many foods and beverage and hospitality businesses. Its Savanna climate, 37 beaches and bays combined with lushly landscaped hills of vulcanic fertile soil, its flora and fauna, and natural tranquillity displays a paradise like atmosphere year-round. Sint Maarten is a place that offers island city and night life options for many people of all walks of life to find a connection with. To describe Sint Maarten one will have to experience it one self.

Besides organizing events and hosting the generic market at the premises, The Keys Market aims to become a food market and urban area for start-ups, innovation, and creativity. This local market location built out of recycled materials will offer workshop activities, jobs and business opportunities in reducing and upcycling waste. These creative workshops and start-ups provide cultural experiences and innovative projects that attracts and inspires both locals and island visitors.

The plan is to create a food court department, a food market melting pot that serves authentic prepared food dishes from different nationalities residing on Sint Maarten. Where each food stall must follow the sustainable dogmas “Reduce and Reuse“ by implementing the use of compostable food service, reduce food waste, use organic, free-range and local ingredients wherever possible. Food vendors also must sort their waste so it can be reused as far as possible.

This food court department will have its own aquaponic and hydroponic garden providing own grown vegetables, fruit, herbs, fish and crustaceans. Linking it to the agricultural projects in The Keys hills, where an ancient 17th century plantation will be reinstated to execute Community Gardening and Community Supported Agriculture. Because of these agricultural activities The Keys Market will organize Food and Farmer market events on a frequent basis so that members of the Community Garden can sell their harvests at market events.  

To join The Keys Market is an opportunity for local and international based entrepreneurs, as they look at new ways to innovate to attract Agritourism and Ecotourism besides the generic Holiday tourism. The difference between both Agritourism and Ecotourism is that Agritourism brings tourists to a farm or ranch to teach them about the local culture and increase income. While ecotourism promotes sustainable and responsible travel to areas with the intention of conserving and protecting the environment.

Sustainable Structures

The Keys Market stalls will be built out of modified shipping containers making them sustainable being Hurricane and Earthquake challenged and Fire resistant. It will provide own renewable energies, biogas and have its own waste-(water)-management system. These stalls are called Eco Business Unit (EBU).

These EBU’s are divided over a ground floor and 1st level to accommodate a total of 26 spots:  

  • 8 x 10ft spots with service hatch             
  • 4 x 20ft – ground floor short side service hatch                
  • 4 x 20ft – ground floor long side service hatch  
  • 4 x 20ft – 1st floor with sliding door       
  • 4 x 20ft – 1st floor with terrace 
  • 2 x 20ft – Work & Live EBU        

To start your next business adventure at The Keys Market you need to fill out the application form HERE.
Once submitted you will be contacted to discuss your application.

Mind you..First come, First serve!

#community #markets #sintmaarten #development #locallyowned #retail #foodentrepreneur #foodcourt #streetfood