• Daniela Jiménez

4 Ways Architects and Designers Are Fighting Against COVID-19



Coronavirus (COVID-19) has propelled the design and architecture community to new boundaries in which they are using their knowledge and resources to help medical staff and hospitals better treat patients. Whether it's 3D printed protection visors to the rapid transformation of spaces to treat coronavirus patients, they are demonstrating that design and architecture can have an active role and a direct impact in the world when it's in crisis.


DESIGN AND MANUFACTURING PROTECTIVE VISORS

Architecture and design firms have transformed their work spaces into protection visor production spaces, a now key element for medical staff in risk of catching the virus. In the United States, architecture firms such and BIG, KPF and Handel Architects have pulled together working on an open-source project for the production of said visors. In Spain, Nagami Design, has transformed its space for furniture production into a visor production space.


In London, Foster + Partners designed a visor that is laser cut and can be easily disinfected, while in universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge University, Queensland University and Rhode Island School of Design have also focused their resources in the production of protection visors.


DESIGN OF TEMPORAL INTENSIVE CARE UNITS

The need for spaces to treat patients has enormously increased, reason why architects have focused their work into designing spaces that can be easily assembled. Following in Chinas steps, they managed to build temporal hospitals to treat patients during the outbreak, the United States has Jupe, a brand that is building pods where patients can be treated, hence, increasing the number of beds available in hospitals. They can be added to an existing hospital or they can be set up individually as treatment clinics. In Italy, Carlo Ratti and Italo Rota designed Intensive Care Unit pods in a shipping container, the first prototype is being built in a Milan hospital.


CONVERTING PRE-EXISTING BUILDINGS INTO HOSPITALS

The number of sick people has increased at a rate that has never been seen before and this has caused for architects to look into ways in which they can transform existing spaces in temporal hospitals. In Theran, architects are already converting the Iran Mall, largest shopping center in the world, into separate Intensive Care Units; in New York, the St. John the Divine cathedral has been converted into a temporal hospital.


In London, there are plans to transform the ExCel Centre in a space with 4,000 beds that will be called NHS Nightingale. It has two halls that part form a main corridor where integral disinfection spaces for medical staff have place, it will have diagnostic rooms and a morgue.


MASK MANUFACTURING

Luxury brands such as Prada, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga have started cotton masks production to answer to the high demand for this article that is not only being used by medical staff, but also by civilians who require protection to not further spread the disease or to avoid contagion.


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© 2019 by Daniela Jiménez.