How We Design

Designing in resource strained areas requires a distinct understanding of the challenges of the local community. As a component of our monitoring and evaluation, we strive to learn from our body of work to understand and refine the functionality of our infrastructure and ensure that we are designing for positive community impact. By studying our completed work we may continue to make the most informed design decisions in the future. In the summer of 2018, in thanks to the generous support of the Autodesk Foundation, Abby and Rob advised the Build Health International (BHI) student interns on the post-occupancy evaluations of several of BHI’s built work. The How We Design initiative intends to summarize, analyze, and outline the impact and execution of design features to develop a body of work that documents existing projects and informs future designs.


    Build Health International


    Autodesk Foundation


    Fond des Blancs, Haïti Mirebalais, Haiti Neno, Malawi


    August 2018


    Post-Occupancy Evaluation


    Build Health International

    Project Sponsored by: Autodesk, Inc

    Project Team: Thara Messeroux Ricardo Rodriguez

    Supervisors : Abby Gordon, Robert Freni

Project Success Factors


Under the guidance of Abby & Rob, the students embarked on a 3-month research project. They started with a desktop review, using Autodesk software to understand the impact of design decisions on airflow, daylighting, electrical consumption, cost, water usage and site work. The students visited a hospital in Southern Haiti with several completed projects where they were able to conduct field research and validate the information secured during the research phase. Upon returning to Boston the team synthesized data using Autodesk software and completed a final report outlining their findings.

Sustainable Design

The report provides validation and a deeper understanding that design decisions have on the built environment. An additional outcome is the students’ knowledge transfer of the computer-aided tools available to analyze and improve designs early on in the process.


Not only does the report identify critical design decisions for human comfort it also presents the impact the assessed buildings have on operations, electrical usage, mechanical needs, plumbing, and maintenance. This document is meant to be the first in a series. A follow-up document will expand on the findings to create a set of guidelines for best practices when designing in low resource settings.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

GOAL 3- Good Health & Well Being
GOAL 6- Clean Water & Sanitation
GOAL 7- Affordable & Clean Energy
GOAL 9- Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure