In January of 2019, I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Havana, Cuba. While I was there, I attended a two-week collaborative workshop and cultural exchange at the Instituto Superior de Diseño, Cuba’s national design school.
During the workshop, students broke up into groups, each having at least 2 SUNY New Paltz and 2 ISDi students. Each group needed to design an experience that identified an issue and posed a solution or a new perspective. My group decided to focus on the issue of stray dogs in Old Havana. These dogs do not belong to one family or person — they are fed by the entire community. However, there is a lack of water available in the humid climate, and the water that is available is often dirty and contaminated.
Our solution to this was to design a modular, lightweight shelter that filters ambient moisture to provide both shade and clean water for street animals. These structures can interlock in different patterns to adapt to their surroundings and would provide a space for people to interact with the animals to foster a better community.
Although we never created these structures in full scale, we created a prototype of it using nylon fabric and wiring from an umbrella. We named the project Perro Azul, or Blue Dog, and designed a light hand-crafted logo to emphasize empathy and care.