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Faculty Sponsor

Professor Suining Ding


Department of Visual Communication and Design


The purpose of this project is to design a “Shared Space” that can be used as a multi-functional space for learning and collaborative activities. The users of this shared space include interior design students from the Latin University of Costa Rica and local interior design professionals. This “Shared Space” project is located in Santa Maria de Dota, Costa Rica, which is known for its coffee plantation and is a beautiful place to sit back to enjoy the wonderful natural surroundings. Unfortunately, deforestation has become a forefront issue in recent years in Santa Maria de Dota area that causes farmers to develop new ideas for coffee plantations in order to have more sun exposure for coffee plants. Local people in Santa Maria de Dota also have initiated a strategy of reducing water and energy consumption by using organic materials. This project is inspired by the concept of sustainability in the coffee industry and strategies of addressing the issue of deforestation. In this “Shared Space” facility, specific spaces for different activities are provided, such as a learning studio space for students, a place to meet and greet clients, spaces for collaboration with communities, offices for interior designers, and a place to showcase their design work. “Shared Space” fosters communication and collaboration between students, professionals, educators and communities. By integrating multiple functions, technologies, and interactions between team members, educators, and clients, a shared space can be used for collaboration among different levels of students in the service-learning model. Also these spaces can provide a more private space to support individual research. The design goal was to alleviate the issue of deforestation while providing a place for education and collaboration with the community. In order to be sustainable, it is important to incorporate recyclable materials and products in the design. Bamboos are used as the primary building material. Replacing timber is another approach to reduce deforestation. In addition, the design incorporates local products such as reusing defective coffee beans as wall partitions and reusing burlap bags left over from the coffee in attempt to keep the cost low for the Santa Maria de Dota economy. Another strategy to tackle deforestation in the design is to grow trees within “Shared Space” as decoration and replant them out in the community once they have outgrown the facility. The design approach has both purpose and impact of fostering education and community collaboration while promoting of designing a sustainable environment.


Art and Design

A Design with Purpose