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  • Daniela Jiménez

SheltAir: Isolation Pods for COVID-19 Patients

Because of the current pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19), hospitals and medical attention centers are at full capacity, putting medical staff and visitors at risk of infection because of the proximity healthy people have with those who have the virus. German architect, Gregory Quinn, developed SheltAir, a biocontention dome that is easily installed using inflatable cushions, as a way to provide isolations pods for COVID-19 patients.

This dome consists on a shell made of plastic rods that is assembled while flat before being pushed to its final form. While in the past these kind of structures have been a logistical nightmare because they had to be pulled up by cranes or people, Quinn assures that his dome will be up and running on only 8 hours because of its innovating technology.

He used inflatable cushions that are made by PVC coated polyester, once its in its final form, its stays erect with a kind of architectonic envelope. This "envelope" is welded to a "skin" using heat, hence creating a completely isolated and secure space within for Covid-19 patients. According to Quinn, "One of the problems that hospitals are facing is that staff and visitors are at risk of infections," that's why he says that smaller spaces make more sense.

Some have proposed turning shipping containers into ICUs to trate contagious patients, but the problem they have faced is that they're very hard to seal off completely. The design he used for these pods has already been sent to WorldBank in order for them to do a study over how fast they can produce and distribute them. Currently, Quinn is talking to Medical Evacuation, otherwise known as Medivac, in order to transport the pods to where they are required the most.

One of the advantaged of SheltAir is that its structure is extremely light and uses a minimum amount of material while being firm and tough. Another advantage is that the method used to assemble these pods is that is technologically easy, so people do not require engineering knowledge in order to have them working and very practical and easy to use. Before installing it is has a sheet that is placed flat on the floor that has drawn instructions to make the process even easier.

"The laser-cut steel rods are assembled throughout the perimeter of the sheet. Once the structure has been inflated, the rods stick out of the cushions and have to be pulled to their final position in order to add support. It's kind of like a tent." said Quinn to Dezeen. This kind of structure was originally created to respond to housing necessities that arise during natural disasters when people are displaced. Quinn modified the design in order to make it suitable for Covid-19 pandemic.

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