Spark Student Winter 2019

Spatial Illustration, Character Design, Spatial Strategies

Environmental Design: Hyejin Kim

Penny Herscovitch

Dan Gottlieb

Stella Hernandez

COANIQUEM is a nonprofit pediatric burn treatment center located in Chile that provides free treatment to over 8000 underserved young patients a year across Latin America. Healing Treasure is an immersive healing spatial design project developed for COANIQUEM’s satellite campus in Antofagasta, Chile, for real world implementation. 

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-leading cause of death in children under 15 years old.

Healing Treasure proposes a new holistic strategy to combine narrative storytelling, wayfinding, and environmental graphics in a resourceful and high-impact way for 2D and 3D implementation. Building upon existing storytelling devices and characters, new stories and characters are created to celebrate the cultures of the North, aiming to empower and engage the young burn patients of COANIQUEM as they undergo treatment. The project seeks to provide confidence for the patients to take charge of their own healing journey, and find joy after a traumatic experience through a sense of control and self-sufficiency.


A patient’s treatment can last up to 20 years as it involves psychological, emotional, and physical scars. By using the power of an immersive and engaging environment, it is a metaphorical way of empowering the patients to find confidence in their own journey by reducing the fear of the unknown. 

The design needs to incorporate cultural references, existing narratives, new stories, and needs from the patients, families, doctors, and staff. It is important to present these elements in one cohesive design that is unique to Northern region of Chile and works to the advantage of the existing features of the building. 


The two-week research trip in Antofagasta walked us through the emotional journey for the patients, their families, and staff, along with fully immersing ourselves in the rich cultures of the North. By understanding existing spatial designs for children’s hospitals and museums, we designed the building to be a live storybook, inviting the patients on a curiosity-evoking, fantastical journey.

This is the journey where  illustration and environmental design collide to create healing spaces for COANIQUEM campus in Antofagasta. We are proposing a new strategy to combine wayfinding, illustration, abstract 3D elements, and colour in an efficient way for the patients, staff, and adults. By creating a graphic system using icons, typography, and colour, this helps to unify the wayfinding system for COANIQUEM.

Following up on the existing character design for Healing Tree, I explored and gave Camila and Lucas distinct personalities and clothing that is unique to the story for the North. Both characters' personalities were inspired by young patients we have met during our research trip in Antofagasta and Puerto Montt.

The staff working at COANIQUEM will be able to tell the process of treatment in a symbolic way that is friendly to children. This design brings out the specific features of the north COANIQUEM campus, and uses colour as a storytelling element to support the patients in an emotional way before, during, and after treatment.

This form of immersive storytelling connects users and stakeholders through digital, physical, and emotional interactions that heightens the value of community and family for COANIQUEM. The design not only highlights a magical and adventurous experience, but also alludes to Antofagasta’s unique cultural, geographical and social context.