During my Fellowship at Art Center College of Design, a small design team and I traveled to Altos Del Pino an informal sediment outside of Bogota Colombia. My teammate Carolina Rodriguez and I were charged to co-create with families innovative technical design solutions for their community, seeking to overcome some of the social issues created by water poverty and to make an impact through the resulting products and systems that were designed.

Through the next eight months, our team designed, researched and created solutions that addressed water and sanitation issues with families living in Altos Del Pino. Being in the field allowed us to dig deeper into the design challenges and to test prototypes faster.  

In this fellowship, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Designmatters NGO, TECHO (Un Techo para mi Pais), SOCIALAB and Compartamos con Colombia these partnerships allowed our design team access to communities, social enterprise network and market based opportunities. Working directly with families from Altos del Pino and partner organizations, we were able to design radically affordable products, systems, and services for access to safe water and hygiene that will have a positive and lasting impact on their lives.




Embedding ourselves with the families, we began to research the habits around water usage. This community was provided water from the local gangs for a single hour every 8 days. This amount was the same for every household no mater how many people occupied the home. Our team worked with six different households from apartments to one elderly woman. The takeaway from this reach was the idea of arbitrage to the value of water throughout the week. From highly valuing it mid-week to dumping excess water out at the end of the week.


Some people have too much water, some people don’t have enough, and they are neighbors.



Although the habit of sharing water exists in Altos del Pino. Currently, there is no formal system in place for sharing water.


Reservoir is a way of balancing the inequality of water between families. People don't know if others need water, the reservoir would collect extra water creating a community network for sharing water.


Hundreds of gallons of water is split up along small containers. Because of this family spend a lot of time transporting water within the home. The water server would link all the small containers creating one centralized water source.


There is no drinking water available outside the homes. This idea creates a public drinking fountain similar to those found in Europe. Creating a safety net for the community.


Papa is a water sharing and purification system designed to enable community buildings and organizations that aid children to maximize their effectives. 


Pooling and sharing water within the community needed to happen in a location that was safe and trusted. We selected El Comedor to implement a water-sharing program. Most communities have an El Comedor and it acts similarly to a soup kitchen for children, on average, each one serves about 100 children. We found this an ideal location to clean, pool and share the water. Children are often at a higher risk to waterborne illnesses so targeting children with clean water help prevent them from getting sick and keeping the families strong.