Building Science Uses Design Thinking

Using the five steps of Design Thinking, students in fall 2017 sections of TEC 3728 Architectural Design Studio I worked with Access Health Africa Co-founder and President Jesse Pipes to propose architectural solutions that address the health and housing needs of the organization’s community of users.

Access Health Africa is a non-profit organization dedicated to “improving access to quality health services, education & resources through community-driven initiatives” in Malawi. Parallel to the efforts of an AppLab project team looking to expand health programming from AHA’s base in Lilongwe, Studio I students led by Professor D. Jason Miller, AIA ( worked with Pipes, who is also a Lecturer in the Walker College of Business, to investigate housing solutions on behalf of AHA’s vision and goals. Examples of student work are now on display in the second floor lobby of Katherine Harper / Kerr-Scott Hall.

For students in Building Science and Sustainable Technology taking their first – and in some cases only – design studio course, the project offered a significant number of challenges, opportunities, and successes. By systematically working through the steps of Design Thinking in the studio, the students gained a new approach to problem solving and a new appreciation for the design process as a whole.

What’s next for Design Thinking in Design Studio I? In the spring 2018 semester, students will develop individual design proposals in response to a general prompt called The 3R Housing Project: Resilient Relocation for Refugees. During a period of dramatic environmental, economic, and social challenges both globally and locally, the need for innovative ideas is apparent. The program faculty look forward to seeing the results of this next step of incorporating Design Thinking in our studio for a student just beginning the journey of design.

Access Health Africa in Malawi
Published: Jan 25, 2018 3:38pm