Steph and WIll, Chart

The challenge for our team is to look beyond just water related issues or problems in the living situations within the campamentos and to connect to the deeper issues of poverty.    Focusing on a larger scope, we arrived at two sets of problems and opportunities- Community Laundry and a Skills-Sharing Network.   These two topics have both strong connections to present issues-for immediate impact and a positive cascading affect for long term results.  

Will & Stephanie

Team Jess and narb’s top 3

SHOWER: How to reduce steps by combining heating, mixing, and showering.

LAUNDRY: How to combine steps to reduce repetition, time, and strain. How to reduce the time to dry clothes.

DISHES: How to combine steps and repetition by creating a centralized work station to drain and capture water.

Design storm results:

helped with getting the ideation process and started by getting the key ideas and key problems on paper. We were able to look at current solutions and how they would work in the current mediaguas. Gave us ideas from learning from the negative aspects of the current solutions.

It was really fun and helpful, I never been in a design storm before. It was exciting and inspiring!

During our research trips to the campamentos of Santiago, one of the things that most struck me was the industry of its residents. A common assumption is that those living in poverty, do so due to a lack of motivation, a lack of skill or some combination of the two. But what I saw in the campamentos was a resilience and a resourcefulness that went beyond what one might expect. Many of the residents may not have been employed, but everyone worked. For those whom formal employment was not an option, due to circumstance, health or physical conditions, entrepreneurship was key to survival.

bicycle cartsalvaged metal

The majority of adults in the campamentos left for work everyday. And if they weren’t going to a formal job in town or a construction job in a new development, they were salvaging parts or precious metals from abandoned lots, doing laundry for their neighbors, selling small crafts, collecting recyclables and used clothing, or buying fruit and vegetables to resale. They create ways to support their families, take pride in their work, and are reluctant to take handouts. For me, it was an important lesson to remember.

salvaged woodferia

In our society where one is defined by their job, and in a current economic climate where many are unemployed, it is an interesting reminder that in difficult circumstances flexibility is key. If no one gives me a job after I graduate, I won’t despair, because like the families in the campamentos, I can create my own job and live with dignity as I pay off my student loans.


Personal Impression

This whole experience has really impacted me in many ways. Prior to the Chile trip I was confident in type of work and studio I wanted to be involved in once I graduated. I thought I had it all figured out.

But, after working with Un Techo Para Chile, it really opened up my eyes to a whole new world and opportunities in design. Working with the families and seeing how much of an impact we made in those two weeks was extremely rewarding. No other experience or project has made me feel the way this trip did. It was amazing.


Thanks to Askan, Andres, Julian and Rafael. You guys were great host. Thanks for the good times and chance to work together. See you October!

Ramon Coronado

This is a link to a document that contains interesting information and background about the water system in Chile; it talks specifically about the company that delivers water in Santiago (the same that installed the emergency tank before our visit). It also includes some interesting numbers like the water tariff in Santiago. This information may lead to a very interesting business model…

by Stella

My 2 cents on ‘Responsible’ Design:

Is it possible to make exceptions in sustainability and still consider our efforts to be responsible and conscientious? It is a question we must all ask, as it is not always in-line with our primary goal as designers. For SWC, we are designing to improve the quality of life for those living in the slums of Chile, and possibly, to even reduce illness and save lives. This is an extraordinary cause and not an easy task to say the least. Beyond the design challenge with the limited materials and resources, there are also family dynamics, economic challenges, and political struggles to also be addressed. If after 12 weeks, we are able to develop a product and system to address some these issues successfully, are we to reconsider their implementation if they are not ecologically sound? Who is to decide whether a child in the slums should sacrifice his or her health because it may impact a rare species of birds in Patagonia? Which is a more pressing issue? Which deserves priority over the other?

The answers to these questions will differ from designer to designer, and the answer is just that: a personal decision. This is why sustainability must be implemented into our design phase from the very beginning, to avoid such situations. If one designs with sustainability in mind, then the design process should answer this great dilemma all on its own. Though, it is easy where such a dilemma can arise.

My personal  experience: Fall 2008 I was part of  a team designing potable water solutions for Pasaquim, Guatemala. The team included two mechanical engineer students, one grad chemist, an industrial designer from Guatemala, and myself, the product designer. Through our research and our various sources in Guatemala, we realized how limited our access to sustainable materials were, especially with our design specifications. More importantly, the citizens of Pasaquim were limited by these materials and supplies, both by availability and financially. So, we were faced with a dilemma: start the design process again and find another solution since we were unable to find a sustainable that met our specifications, or take keep our clever approach towards this problem and use PVC as the housing material. PVC is extremely affordable, accessible in every hardware store in Guatemala, and easy to work with. On the flip side, it is one of the worst man made materials when it comes to environmental and human health (in production).

Awa Water Filter, 2008

Though the debate went on, the majority of the team made the decision to go with PVC because it satisfied our primary goal and could potentially make a huge dent in the 54% of child deaths caused by malnutrition and lack of potable water. I was not a supporter of the decision to accept this iteration of the design as our final prototype, but at the same time, I stayed on the team, and was in full support of its cause. We presented our design, prototype, bacteria test results from the prototype, and our business model at the end of the term, and tied for the grand prize. This summer several prototypes have been taken down to Guatemala for testing in the environment before being taken into limited production and allowed for the business model to be tested. This would normally be great news and an amazing reward for someone who is a big supporter of design for social causes, but I can’t help thinking about the toxic industry and market potential i’ve helped introduce to this remote region of Guatemala. Was our design a success? Was our design responsible? Only we, the designers and answer that question. Perhaps this is not a question of responsibility, but a question of morality.



For one day, get ALL of your water (to bathe, brush your teeth, cook, wash, drink, flush toilet, etc)

from your nearest hose.*

Keep a detailed visual journal documenting your day, with photos, sketches, notes, reflections

and questions. Note how much water you use for each activity.

This studio will require an open mind and empathy – listening and seeking to understand people

whose lives differ in many ways from our own. One of the things we take for granted in our lives is

convenient, unlimited water from plumbing and faucets. Yet the communities we will be working

with in Santiago’s slums get water delivered once a week by truck. The goal of this exercise is to

become conscious of how we use water in our daily lives – to dedicate one day to understanding

how your life would be different without easy access water.

Document / Consider:

> make a graphic representation of how many liters of water you used per activity?

> how did you change your behavior to cope (skip shower, postpone laundry, etc)?

> what solutions did you invent to carry, store, filter water?

> if possible, bring in your water bill – how much do you use on average?

* If you do not have access to a hose, fill up 19 liters (5 gallons) of water (average amount a family

consumes in Africa), and use that amount for ALL your daily activities.


Sunday Aug 16th – 11 am (TBC)

612 Moulton Ave #4, Los Angeles 90031 – at the Brewery