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Aggies collaborate to design modern health care centers

Originally posted in the Battalion. Visit the original article at http://www.thebatt.com/science-technology/aggies-collaborate-to-design-modern-health-care-centers/article_7331d6bc-d538-11e5-bac9-47f9d271daac.html

In a novel approach that focuses on healthcare infrastructure instead of personnel, A&M architecture students aim to address the root cause of the healthcare problem in Kenya — economics.

Students at Texas A&M have designed retail clinical centers for 47 counties. In addition to a medical clinic, the student designers have included spaces for community education, workshops for adding value to local produce and retail space that will serve as a market for local products.

The project hopes to build a “Sustainable One-Health Community,” said Dr. Macharia Waruingi, a visiting scholar from Ustawi Biomedical Research Innovation and Industrial Centers of Africal, UBRICA.

“The designs have to consider four things that determine health — human health, economic health, animal health and environmental health,” Dr. Waruingi said. “This combined consideration of four things in the design structure is what produces sustainable health communities.”

Waruingi is collaborating with Texas A&M in a joint effort to overcome poverty as the primary cause of disease, disability and death in Africa.

“We are committed to building a health care system in Africa that is centered on economic development,” Waruingi said. “We believe that economic development is by far the greatest cause of improvement in health. An effective health system has to be designed to improve the economic condition of the people it is meant to help. By improving the economic condition, the health of people will improve.”

The College of Architecture created the “Architecture-For-Health” studio led by Professor George J. Mann, endowed professor in health facilities design. The studio focuses on the interplay between medicine and the physical buildings that make healthcare possible.

“Each student selected a county, so we have 47 individual designs for the retail clinical centers,” Waruingi said. “The remaining five students are working on retail clinical centers a county in Nairobi and a specialized health care real estate in Kenya.”

As part of this project, students were required to study the geography, the people, the disease distribution and the major economic activities of the counties.

“The challenge was to get second-year architecture students up to speed with the current healthcare situation in Kenya while providing them with a cultural background,” said Zhipeng Lu, architecture lecturer, who is guiding a team of second -year architecture students. Lu said students designed a custom retail clinic for each county based on specific factors.

Chanam Lee, professor at the Department of Landscape and Urban Planning, highlighted how this project was opening her students up to new avenues.

“Landscape architecture students are often unfamiliar with the demands of a healthcare design and it is really great to see students incorporate interdisciplinary concepts to achieve their design goals,” said Lee, who is leading an effort with fourth -year landscape architecture students.

The designs will be unveiled beginning at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in the exhibit hall of Building B in the Langford Architecture Center.