El Timbiriche: A Mobile Wellness Unit

Thm_clrd_28 Thm_clrd_34 Thm_clrd_30
In a community underserved by formal healthcare, how can alternative wellness practices be made accessible, visible, and participatory in public space? As mobile collector + distributor, El Timbiriche offers a low-tech model for user engagement + empowers those who share their expertise. It invites several forms of participation on the street: from its ready-to-write-on chalkboard surfaces to a bike that rewards when ridden by powering digital tablets on hand. The project finds success in neighborhood place-making as means to a larger goal of digitally documenting unwritten stories, remedies, and traditions passed down through generations.
Sidebars_moreinfo Sidebars_links
+ Share(close)
Email (close)
July 22, 2014
  • Trans
El Timbiriche, meaning “little kiosk,” will act as both an interactive information collector and distributor and travel along designated routes to reach those who normally wouldn't be reached.
This is a disinvested + environmentally toxic area, where asthma, diabetes, or obesity afflicts over half the residents. El Timbiriche aims to make traditional healthy practices accessible again.
A modular design unfolds + aggregates to offer flexibility in use and multiple scales of indoor/outdoor social space. It is a kit of parts for single assembly as well as for 1 unit in a larger system.
Exchanging ideas through community workshops + public presentations at every stage of the design process has demonstrated that although modest in scale, the project's impact will be widespread.
Users participate by writing/drawing recipes on chalkboard surfaces, sharing stories via tablets and videos, sampling remedies at this outdoor classroom, and riding a bike to generate electricity.

El Timbiriche targets Latino residents of South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This is a disinvested + environmentally toxic area, where many suffer from asthma, diabetes, + obesity w/ unaffordable options for care. The unwritten, traditional healing knowledge entrenched in the community must be documented, shared + made visible.


El Timbiriche moves through neighborhoods to collect + document health remedies from the elderly to pass on to the young. Its interactive, modular design ensures flexibility in use for various social space scenarios – from school gymnasium to street fair. The exchange of ideas ameliorates the health crisis in the community.