Repurposing shipping containers has become an architecture trend, but now they're being used to create intensive care units for COVID-19 patients in over-stretched hospitals.
In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, many hospitals are lacking ICU beds and isolation wards, and have resorted to closing unnecessary wards and closing off areas of hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients. Carlo Ratti, Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab, has designed an ICU ward from architects’ favourite upcycling trend: the shipping container.
A working prototype of Ratti’s shipping container ICU, Cura, has been built in Turin within the Officine Grandi Riparazioni event venue with the first patient being admitted last week and many more Cura wards in progress worldwide.
These ICU wards were designed by a team of medical professionals, engineers, designers and military experts. The pods can be built in a matter of hours, but offer the safety and equipment of an isolation ward. These temporary structures can be places in hospital car parks or surrounding areas to tackle a capacity shortage or assembled in hard-hit areas where there is a lack of hospitals or medical facilities.
The ward is made up of a series of repurposed shipping containers, kitted out with all the necessary medical equipment. Units are fitted with extractors to make them negative pressure, expelling any airborne bugs keeping the patients and medical staff as safe as possible. The units are then connected together with an inflatable corridor system allowing a ward of more than 40 beds to be assembled in a matter of hours.
The designs for Cura are open-source and a not-for-profit initiative encouraging input and modifications to the design to develop accessible pop-up ICU wards to help hospitals and medical professionals worldwide.