Malawi Health & Design Collaborative

Today, unique challenges confront Malawi’s public infrastructure. Rapid urbanization and population growth stress aging health, education and urban systems.

Solving these challenges require nimble but resilient, multi-institutional collaborations imbued with deep local knowledge and inspired by global opportunity.

The Malawi Health and Design Collaborative believes a symbiotic relationship exists between health and design, where health-centered research guides spatial design methodologies, and architectural, infrastructural, and geospatial design are social indicators of health and healing.

Who We Are

The Malawi Health and Design Collaborative is a team of academics, architects and health professionals committed to strengthening Malawi’s health and education infrastructure through rigorous evidence-based research and design.

What We Do

We leverage academic and professional partners to strengthen health infrastructure with innovative programming, environmental performance analysis, and human-centered, evidence-based design.

We form an innovative, multi-institutional center for groundbreaking research, design and implementation.

We strengthen academic institutions through equitable partnerships and real-world experiences for Malawian students in architecture and the health professions.


The Health and Design Collaborative anchors new frontiers of teaching and research, designing long-term models of impact for Malawian health, education, and human development.


  • Generate meaningful impact in the health and well-being of the Malawian population.
  • Strengthen public infrastructure systems (architecture, health, education, planning).
  • Foster equitable academic partnerships to strengthen the design and health professions.
  • Leverage social health indicators and clinical research to inform built environment strategies.
  • Achieve quality improvement in patient and staff outcomes through design.


  • Human-centered design and program development
  • Systematic literature review informing best design practice
  • Strategic planning and visioning conceptual development
  • Drone-based site analysis, data-collection and documentation
  • Infection control and indoor air quality analysis and strategic implementation
  • Sustainable design and assemblies research and detailing
  • Building performance analysis (daylighting, passive thermal performance, ventilation)
  • Post-occupancy evaluation and assessment

Methods and Impact

Health and Design Collaborative impacts are measured at human, community, systems, and policy scales. The work is guided by the UN Sustainable Development, WHO, NIH, CDC, World Bank and USAID targets, medical literature, human-centered design models, and Government Strategic Implementation Strategies.

“You want to save lives in Malawi? Build better hospitals.”

Dr. Ryan Hayton, Chief Surgeon, Malamulo Hospital, Makwasa, Malawi

The Global Studio

Africa’s population will likely double in the next 30 years. College of Architecture and the Built Environment’s professor Chris Harnish has enlisted his students to explore how design can solve issues this growth poses to the healthcare system in Malawi.

Malawi Health & Design Collaborative Partners

In addition to collaborating with many departments throughout Jefferson, the Health and Design Collaborative partners with a number of organizations throughout Malawi. Interested in partnering with the Collaborative? Email Chris Harnish at

Malawi Partners

  • Malawi Ministry of Health
  • Malawi Department of Buildings
  • University of Malawi College of Medicine
  • University of Malawi, the Polytechnic
  • Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe
  • Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre
  • Kasungu District Hospital
  • Malamulo Mission Hospital, Thyolo