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Master of Science in Architecture concentration in Design and Health

The concentration promotes critical assessments of existing design practices, while seeking to catalyze new opportunities for design and architecture to positively influence health.

Important Dates & Information:

Application Deadline: January 15 
Intent to Enroll Deadline: April 15
Visit the Master of Science in Architecture admissions page to apply

Design and Health Overview

The built environment has a powerful impact on our bodies, fitness, and well-being. The Master of Science in Architecture concentration in Design and Health (MS_DH) examines a range of scales including interiors, buildings, cities, and territories 
that promote a critical assessment of existing design practices. Students in the MS_DH concentration pursue new opportunities for design and architecture to positively influence health infrastructure by addressing inequalities, while drawing from numerous allied fields through design.

Design Health is positioned as a crucial, global concern in light of rapid technological change, innovation in science, and emerging, critical theories in the humanities. In the MS_DH concentration, design is understood as a relational structure that navigates the constantly changing contours between the sciences and humanities. As forms of cultural production, health-related design issues are distributed between medical models and social models, with the medical model acting as the dominant paradigm. Students explore the confluence of these models, while developing design thinking in order to produce new methodologies and new ways of effectively engaging the complex relationships between design and health in a global context.

Within a 21st century context, MS_DH students develop new frameworks for debate regarding: the role of design in expanding healthy lifestyles, the challenges of structural-level disparities in access to healthcare facilities and amenities, and the way that design processes are embedded in pathological social systems. The concentration combines case study and action-based methods in order to deploy multi-disciplinary approaches to understanding health as an individual and collective challenge. Projects range from assymetrical design explorations to policy innovations on issues ranging from resource allocation and zoning to transport and agricultural infrastructure. Areas of study include: the human body, disparate access to healthcare, hospitals and institutional health systems, and environmental conditions that influence health outcomes. 

As urbanization continues to affect health, the impact of urban design will be of particular interest in examining the interplay between population density, transport infrastructure, access to food and water, and overall health. 

Each MS_DH student will chart a relationship between architecture, design, social science, engineering, history, public health, public policy, and medicine. New forms of practice can emerge, as well as new forms of collaboration, from basic scientific research to technological interfaces within designed objects and buildings.

The University of Michigan is robust constellation of academic, professional, and clinical units with which to partner, including but not limited to subject areas of medicine, pediatric medicine, geriatrics, psychology, public health, public policy, obesity, sociology, art and design, kinesiology, and biomechanics.


Sample Schedule

View the Master of Science in Architecture: Design and Health - Sample Schedule (PDF)

Design and Health Required Courses

The Masters of Science in Architecture degree requires the completion of 36 credit hours carried out in three terms (10 months) (summer, fall, winter)

ARCH 726 – Theories in Design Health - This course provides students with an understanding of the multitude of definitions of health across the globe, over time, and in various demographic realms. Students will become familiar with the nexus of disciplines and professions which enable and constrain design health.

ARCH 727 – Health: Individual Infrastructures - This course covers topics related to individual health and will examine the role of design in determining the metrics of individual health within domestic, work, and recreational environments. Participants will examine the body at rest, work, and play in specific spatial and environmental contexts determining disparities in which such activities that place and resolving the mechanics of the infrastructural differences.

ARCH 728 – Health: Civic Infrastructures - This course will cover topics related to the features of heterogeneous populations at rest, work, and play, and in the specific spatial and environmental contexts in which such activities take place. The collective behavior of civic infrastructures is closely associated with ecologies and systematic conditions of healthcare and healthcare access across multiple home, work, and recreational environments.

ARCH 714 – Master of Science in Architecture Proseminar - The Proseminar will engage interdisciplinary work, projects and scholarship related to the MS areas of concentration (digital technologies, material systems, conservation, and design and health) — through lectures, class discussion, and guest lectures including experts in the MS concentration areas. 

ARCH 700 – MS Practicum in Design Health - The Practicum applies knowledge attained from the prerequisite courses towards project-based work in a ‘design laboratory’ setting in preparation for the capstone. Students will work individually and collaboratively on topics framed by the faculty’s research focus.

ARCH 739 – MS Capstone in Design Health - The Capstone is an intensive team-based research project under the direction of the Capstone faculty. The project is intended to be related to the research of the faculty as a means to investigate innovative 
aspects for the application of design and health. This work will be executed collaboratively in a format defined by the scope and demands of the project. 

In addition to dedicated courses within the concentration, students are able to take 4 elective courses to advance their knowledge of related topics. A minimum of two of these electives must be university electives that allow for a connection to the university at large in order to gain exposure to research methodologies beyond the discipline.

Faculty associated with the concentration:

Admission Materials