COANIQUEM: Safe Niños: Co-creating Innovative Healing Environments for Kids




ArtCenter students partner with COANIQUEM, a Santiago, Chile based nonprofit who provides free burn treatment to children from underserved communities across Latin America. Interdisciplinary student teams design holistic healing environments for kids at COANIQUEM’s burn rehabilitation campuses in Antofagasta to the north of Chile & Puerto Montt to the south.




About Burn Victims and Latin America

Every year, more than 7 million children across Latin America are victims of burn accidents. In Chile alone, 100,000 burn accidents occur with the majority involving children under 5 years of age; burn injuries are the third cause of death in children under 15 years old.

About 90 percent of burn accidents for children happen at home even with parents at home. Youngsters are burned by hot liquids, open fires, electrical fires, fireworks and hot elements from heaters and irons. Recovering from a burn – whether small or large – can be painful and often involves extensive follow-up care that can take decades. The process is extremely stressful since many families live in faraway underserved communities.

For survivors and their families, a burn represents a psychological, emotional as well as physical scar that changes everyone for the rest of their lives.


Since its inception in 1979 by Dr. Jorge Rojas-Zegers, COANIQUEM has cared for more than 100,000 children suffering from devastating and life-altering burn injuries; children and families travel to the Santiago, Chile facility from South American countries and the Caribbean Islands. Because of partnerships and international support, COANIQUEM can offer their services at no cost to families, many who live in poverty.

COANIQUEM treats 8,000 patients annually, with survivors and families living on the facility grounds for weeks and months as they undergo treatments and therapy sessions. The campus is located in a Santiago residential neighborhood and is accessible by public transportation.

Taking a holistic approach, COANIQUEM combines medical attention, restorative healing and comprehensive rehabilitation programs to treat physical and psychological scars. Trained professionals from a wide range of specializations are part of the COANIQUEM facility: medical doctors, registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, social workers and music therapists. Teachers at the on-site school ensure that children of all ages who are undergoing treatments keep up with their education.

Currently, COANIQUEM is in the process of establishing a network of charity thrift stores across the country that would support its mission; volunteers, donors and shoppers all now can be considered part of the larger COANIQUEM family of compassion and care.

Project Brief




Co-create engaging environments that are welcoming, playful and therapeutic, to empower and nurture burned children & their families through the healing journey.

Propose holistic design solutions for COANIQUEM’s Puerto Montt (South) & Antofagasta (North) Campuses. How might designs embrace Chile’s unique regional contexts?

Antofagasta (North): Seek opportunities for 10,000+ sf (1000+ sm) campus to engage both kids & elder communities?

Puerto Montt (South): Resourcefully transform a new rehabilitation facility into an engaging environment

Develop high-impact, resourceful innovations for real-world implementation at COANIQUEM’s campuses.

Potential outcomes: spaces for treatment, play, stay, spirituality, gathering; interactive & print storytelling; fixtures & spatial graphics; campus systems

Consider: How to carry forward the positive impact of Healing Tree collaboration to empower and nurture patients?





  Seek key opportunities for design to make an impact

  Consider all stakeholders: kids, parents, staff, community

  Listen to build empathy & deep connections with people

  Collect both qualitative & quantitative data

  Uncover challenges + potential resources

  Understand unique ecological, cultural, social, and historical contexts in Chile’s North & South


  Starts with empathy & understanding:

Human connections and empathy are the heart of the design process to create social impact.

  Co-Creation: Design WITH, not FOR

Understand challenges, envision opportunities & ideate together WITH our partner community.

  Seek Key Opportunities for Impact:

Shift from a mind set of problem to opportunity, and from scarcity to abundance.

  Human-Centered Spatial Experience Design:

Design a person’s total experience of the space to create an engaging, welcoming & empowering environment.

Methodology Cards

Safe Niños iii Method Cards
Download PDF