Across the globe, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is placing enormous amounts of strain on medical infrastructure and staff. The number of those who require intensive care far outnumbers the amount of space available for treatment. This has led some cities such as Wuhan to quickly mobilize and create temporary, prefabricated medical centers and New York City to convert convention centers and dorms into makeshift hospitals. A new response to this dilemma is looking to shipping containers.
An international task force led by architecture studio Carlo Ratti Associati, Humanitas Healthcare and University, and the World Economic Forum, among others, is developing CURA or Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments. It is a non-profit, open source, design and build initiative that is seeking to furnish shipping containers to operate as biocontainment pods.
CURA has been designed to increase intensive care capacity. And, according to the CURA team, “The aim is that they can be quickly deployed in cities around the world, promptly responding to the shortage of ICU space in hospitals and the spread of the disease.” The first prototype unit is currently under construction at a hospital in Milan.
The shipping containers will be of standard dimensions: 8 feet by 8.5 feet by 20 feet. Each pod will function independently and will contain medical equipment-beds, IV stands, and ventilators, able to treat two patients. They will also feature an air extractor to generate indoor negative pressure, which is a common method used in hospitals and laboratories to prevent contaminated air from escaping.
Furthermore, according to The Architect’s Newspaper: “While the CURA pods can function as stand-alone supplements to preexisting hospital ICU intakes, they are by their very nature modular and can be stitched together into an effective field hospital via an inflatable corridor.” This will allow them to easily adapt to any context they are used in. “The designers envision the units being set up alongside existing hospitals, in spaces like car parks…” according to Dezeen.
CURA is currently coordinating between New York and Turin, Italy. If the prototype is successful, the model could be replicated and applied to other COVID-19 hotspots around the world.
All images courtesy of CURA