With the recent increase in COVID-19 cases around the country, it's important for structural engineers to be ready to support hospitals in quickly expanding their capacity by installing temporary quarantine facilities. Temporary quarantine facilities are structures that can be constructed quickly and at a low cost to house sick patients inside a facility where they can be kept quarantined and safely treated by medical professionals.
These temporary structures can be extended to fit specific areas and can be built for a variying number of patients. Specifically, the structural design can match the space the hospital requires. There are also finished specs available for free, one such designs was created by WTA Architecture and Design Studio, an architecture firm from the Phillipines that helped make temporary quarantine facilities for COVID-19 reflief efforts.
The temporary quarantine facility designed by WTA is a good example of how structural engineers and architects can help us win the fight against COVID-10. When building a temporary structure there are many important factors that go into the design and construction. In WTA's case, when building their temporary quarantine facility, the materials had to be cheap and the consturction had to be fast, so timing and cost was imporant. The structure also had to fulfill the primary purpose of creating a space where patients can be taken care of safely and in quarantine.
Using wood to frame the structure was the obvious choice, it was spaced out evenly where plastic tarps or sheets can be placed over the wood and ensure that the structure is sealed. This type of wood frame was cost effective and fast to build. Considering the structure is temporary, it is also easy to dissasemble or demolish when it's no longer needed. The wood and plastic can be cleaned and recycled as well - the materials can be used to build another temporary quarantine facility in another location.
The interior of the structure is spacious and sealed from the outside. This ensures that medical care professionals and their patients remain safe and in a state of comfort, similar to what they would experience had they stayed in a hospital room. The equipment that a doctor needs as well as other amenities such as air conditioning can also be easily added to the facility. Since the design is made to be expanded on, it's up to the hospital's budget to add things like beds, chairs, medical equipment and air conditioning. The space for these things are put into consideration during the design phase of the temporary quarantine facility.
The important thing here is that the temporary quarantine facility fulfills all the requirements of it's original purpose as outlined by the scope of the project. Hospitals are encouraged to particiapte in the design phase of the project but such participation isn't required because it's the job of the architects and structural engineers to make sure their temporary quarantine facility meets the designated goals of the project.
As seen through the case of WTA's design, a temporary quarantine facility is a simple structure composed of a wooden frame and a sealed tarp around the structure. The interior is kept clean by the medical staff which ensures a safe and clean environment for both patients and medical professionals.
A temporary quarantine stucture is designed to be built quickly and at low cost and can be designed to meet the requirements of the hospital the structure is meant to augment and increase the capacity of that hospital.
Photos listed in this article belong to WTA Architecture and Design Studio. The COVID-19 Emergency Quarnatine Facility specs have been open sourced and can be found here.