Since 2008, I have been managing and leading the design of a health center for approximately 20,000 African villagers who have no other access to healthcare on a site with no power, no clean water and no infrastructure for waste or sanitation with an extremely limited budget. Every design decision has impacted the quality and duration of the lives of thousands of individuals in this region. In this context, the role of qualitative and quantitative research becomes absolutely essential throughout every step of the design process. Any consideration of a design decision that doesn’t come from an understanding of its constructability, transferability, energy performance, structural performance, programmatic flexibility and cultural appropriateness are irresponsible decisions by any measure.
From its inception, this has been a collaborative project in which University of Cincinnati students, faculty and practitioners from the disciplines of architecture and design, engineering (civil, environmental, hydrological, structural, materials, acoustic, and thermal), medicine and nursing, geography, history and sociology have worked collectively with members of this Tanzanian village to respond to the complex, rigorous, ever-changing criteria for this project.
Areas of research include:
One example is the acoustic concerns of the typical metal roof in the region. The traditional metal roof has no thermal benefit, but also is a major liability during the rainy seasons. We identified all possible materials that could be used in the roof and combined these in a variety of layers until we were able to reduce the acoustic levels successfully. We created a box that held an acoustimeter next to the interior skin of the roof. We then compared the acoustic transfer through the different roof conditions. Photos are shown below: