Alumnus Isaac Oaks offers a student’s perspective on the Safe Agua Colombia project, just published in the new Designmatters book, Safe Agua Colombia (June 2014). Continuing to build on the investigations and experiences of the award-winning Safe Agua Chile and Safe Agua Peru projects, Oaks traveled as part of a student team to Altos del Pino, in Bogotá, Colombia, to co-create innovative technical design solutions with local families, seeking to overcome some of the social issues created by water poverty and to make an impact through resulting products and systems.
The Designmatters Safe Agua project fostered my personal exploration into the area of community design co-creation. The experience began with an immersive 12-day research trip to outskirts of Bogotá, Colombia, in fall 2013, where I was among a small team embedded with families in the asentamiento of Altos del Pino. Our focus was designing for the all too common problem of extremely limited water supply. Because they are only provisionally connected to the official water grid, each household has access to a small hose of running water for just one hour every eight days. This highly restrictive schedule became the catalyst for our designs.