5 Ways Architects and Designers are Responding to COVID-19
The coronavirus epidemic is definitely not the first time designers and architects try to redefine the world we live in. We’ll have to adapt our cities, neighborhoods, and buildings to accommodate our new sanitary conditions. As we understand the disease, how it spreads, the health risks it creates, we can start redesigning and reimagining the cities we live in.
But how? How are the most sustainable firms in Miami responding to the epidemic? Do we have a set of guidelines we have to apply? How can we reduce the risks of future epidemics? How will the urban environment change and how will it affect us? Let’s try to answer these questions in this short guide:
onverting existing buildings into hospitals
The rapid spread of the coronavirus epidemic has overwhelmed hospitals around the world. The number of cases is expected to rise even more and many of them will need specialized healthcare in hospitals. Countries all around the world are rapidly looking for solutions to increase their capacity to treat these patients. For instance, the United States deployed military hospital ships in order to treat coronavirus patients.
Existing buildings are also rapidly converted to hospitals, in a major effort all across the country. For instance, the New York Cathedral of St. John the Divine is starting its conversion process. Conference centers, sports halls, and other large open interior spaces in Florida are also redesigned by some of the most sustainable firms in Miami. Hotels are also excellent candidates for rapid conversion. For instance, a good architectural firm in Miami can manage the conversion of a hotel into a hospital in as little as 10 days. In extreme cases, high schools can also be converted to hospital use. These buildings can accommodate up to 500 beds each, making them ideal locations for medical care. Of course, this conversion process requires careful planning and design. Quick, sustainable and cheap solutions are the most sought after, particularly in areas that are more prone to infection.
Redesigning intensive care units
As more and more patients require intensive care, the intensive care unit has to be redesigned. Quick installation intensive care unit pods are being designed and are expected to be functional in a few months. These pods, known as CURA (Connected Units of Respiratory Ailments), are designed by a team of engineers, architects, doctors, and military experts. The pods can be quickly shipped all across the world in simple shipping containers. They can work autonomously, are inflatable, and can be reused multiple times. Pods also come fully operational, with functional ventilators and other medical equipment. In extreme cases, the pods can be placed on any horizontal surface, such as parking lots, roads, or fields.
Designing and manufacturing PPE products
PPE products (personal protective equipment) are critical during this coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, there is a massive shortage of these products, especially for health workers, who require excellent protection. Architects and designers have quickly adapted their skills and have begun designing PPE products. The most sustainable firms in Miami handle both the designing and manufacturing process, with in-house 3D printers and other specialized equipment.
Architects have also created worldwide open-source projects to print face shields. The designs are made by a few architectural firms all around the world, and the manufacturing can be done remotely, as long as a 3D printer is functional. Also, many architectural firms in Miami have switched from making architectural models for their projects to making face shields and other protective equipment. Some of these designs are very adaptable, can be cut by a laser machine, and can be shipped flat, making transportation and distribution much easier.
Designing and manufacturing healthcare equipment
Some architectural firms in Miami are focused on designing and manufacturing specific healthcare equipment. For instance, simple items are designed by famous architects, such as devices that hold the strings away from the wearer’s ears. Other items include door-handle extensions that let users open and close doors without using their hands, valves for oxygen masks, components for ventilators, and respirators. Some of the items are very complex – for instance, the valve for the ventilator has tiny holes, smaller than 0.8 millimeters. Virtually all these items require careful designing, planning, and testing. Architects have the experience, competence, and tools required to design these items, so their help is immensely beneficial.
All items are manufactured by simple tools, like 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC machines. Most architecture firms already have this type of equipment, making manufacturing very easy and efficient.
Sourcing, supplying, and shipping materials
The entire construction industry is affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Construction materials, specifically those used for healthcare buildings, are in short supply. Architects, designers, contractors, and technicians work hard in order to source, supply, and ship these materials to work sites. For instance, these new buildings require special materials, like rubber flooring designed for temporary care facilities, vinyl sheets, and slip-resistant mats. Currently, there are hundreds of active conversion worksites across the country, so there is a huge demand for these products. Obviously, speed matters a lot – these supplies have to reach the work sites as quickly as possible.
Conducting surveys and research
The coronavirus pandemic has affected the construction industry, but architects and designers have more work than ever. They are cranking out solutions and ideas to support those in need, but also have to focus on their ongoing projects. Data about this situation has to be gathered in order to determine how the industry was affected. Some architectural firms have developed surveys to gauge the responses from the industry – how the pandemic affected their work and what resources they need in order to be productive? Some surveys also try to determine the preparedness of new and existing buildings be converted into alternative care sites. This is a major aspect of sustainable architecture, especially during this difficult pandemic. Epidemiological data suggest that the epidemic is difficult to predict, so having adequate care centers is critical.