— by Mellany Armstrong, Associate Director of Communications

Fashion Design Chair Nasheli Juliana Ortiz-González's personal project 22 Studio is presenting this week at the 16th Participatory Design Conference in Manizales, Colombia.

She and her founding partner, Marién Vélez, will present their paper, "Participatory Lighting Design in Puerto Rico," Thursday, June 18, at the PDC2020 conference. 22 Studio is a transdisciplinary studio with a deep curiosity for architectural, stage, performance, light-space art and social lighting. Both Vélez and Ortiz-González are from Puerto Rico.

After Hurricane María ravaged Puerto Rico in 2017, residents lacked power for over a year as a result of the vulnerable electric infrastructure. A community in Comerío, Puerto Rico, invited 22 Studio to co-design a solar lighting infrastructure that addressed the lack of civic participation in rural public areas.

"We created a solar power system and lighting design with the community," said Ortiz-González. "We wanted to help communities to get off the grid and help them to be independent from the government."

According to their presentation, 22 Studio worked with community leaders to develop surveys, plans, photographs, layouts, renderings and elevations to analyze architectural and light components. The construction phase was organized by the community’s leadership, employing neighbors and coordinating with external manufacturers for the acquisition of solar energy equipment.

Through community and design workshops, the community accomplished energy independence by getting off the grid and creating a solar energy system.