Award-winning advanced studio project for the course "Principles of Ecological Design" at the Rhode Island School of Design 2010  

Critic: Hansy Better

The RISD studio, Principles of Ecological Design, was a collaboration with the architecture students at the Autonomous University of the Caribbean in Colombia. This Colombian school had been engaged by the Wayuu, an indigenous tribe, to help expand their village with the addition of a school, a clinic and commercial center. 

My proposal focuses on a tourist-accessible commercial center and is reminiscent of a traditional Wayuu structure, the enramada. There are no walls in the enramada. In this open space, the Wayuu welcome guests, weave and take naps in chichorros (hammocks). This commercial center is also designed to allow interaction, between the local and global communitites. Women would sell their woven goods in small enramadas situated around a central communal eating space, where tourists enjoy Wayuu cuisine. An interweaving of different cultures would be fostered through mutual benefits. 



There are many legends that tell us how Wayúu women began to weave. One of them is that of how a young hunter, Irunuu, found an orphan girl in the desert. Saddened by the situation of the child, he took her back to his ranch (piichipala or miichipala), and handed her over to his sisters for them to teach her domestic chores. These women rejected the girl so he, Irunuu, had to take care of her. The girl was mistreated not only by Irunuus’ Sisters but also by other members of the tribe.
One lonely night, the girl transformed into a beautiful maiden, and began drawing threads from her mouth to weave hammocks and wayucos for Irunuu. But when the sisters found out about these fabrics, they told their brother that it was them who had made them.
Time went by but Irunuu was suspicious about his sisters. He followed the girl one night and saw how she turned into the beautiful maiden and how she made such wonderful fabrics. Feeling in love with the girl he tried to hug her holding in his hands just a thread of cobweb because the beautiful maiden turned into a spider (Wale Keru) and disappeared into the woods. And it was her who later on taught a wayuu woman how to ewave in exchange for animals (goats or donkeys). TheWayúu also gave her their clothes and necklaces. This is how Wayúu women learnt and it has been transmitted through generations


Press release: 


During this advanced studio, I kept a blog to document my research process. Check it out here: Dreams of Wale-Keru