Hospital beds and coronavirus test centres are needed fast. Here’s an Australian-designed solution


Deborah Ascher Barnstone, University of Technology Sydney

Two of the most pressing needs worldwide in the coronavirus pandemic are for more hospital beds and testing centres. No country in the world has enough hospital beds or intensive-care unit (ICU) beds for a pandemic. Even the best prepared, like Germany with 33.9 ICU beds per 100,000 citizens, does not have enough.

Most countries have locked down to buy time by flattening the infection curve so fewer patients will present to hospital at once. They hope to use the time to boost hospital capacity.




Read more:
What steps hospitals can take if coronavirus leads to a shortage of beds


But the design challenge is significant. We need structures that can be quickly and easily assembled, are inexpensive and meet technical requirements. Architects have always worked on such challenges – the Living Shelter is one recent example.

Here in Australia a consortium is working to develop two designs, one for hospital intensive care units and one for COVID-19 testing centres, that can be used across the country and overseas. By using recycled shipping containers as the core structure, the price of the buildings will be less than a third of the cost of conventional designs.

In both building types, the container doubles as structure and packaging. This means the designs are self-contained and easy to distribute anywhere in the world. All the building parts, technical equipment, cabinets and other fit-out materials pack into the container.

The design of the testing centre is based on a shipping container, which doubles as the packaging for transport.
Author provided

Douglas Abdiel, the director of charitable foundation P&G Purpose, and architect Robert Barnstone are working together on the design and delivery of these hospital units and testing centres.

Barnstone specialises in disaster relief architecture. He has developed designs for emergency housing for the International Red Cross and rapid deployment schools for countries afflicted by disaster. This experience gave Barnstone invaluable insights into the economics and potential construction systems for the hospital units and testing centres.




Read more:
Coronavirus will devastate Aboriginal communities if we don’t act now


What are the key requirements?

Any disaster relief architecture must consider several critical design aspects:

  • buildings need to be as cheap as possible so limited funds can be stretched to help as many people as possible

  • the structure should be lightweight and easy to assemble because professional builders might not be available for construction

  • the structure needs to be weatherproof and insulated for variable climates

  • medical functions require running water, electricity, air exchange to bring fresh air into the container, and air conditioning to control the temperature inside.

The mechanical services needed in a medical facility are highly specialised and expensive. This makes it particularly challenging to design. Ideally, the structure should be lasting, so money invested in relief efforts is not wasted.

Emergency structures should also be designed for easy packaging and shipping. Standard dimensions of shipping containers, freight costs and delivery logistics must be considered.




Read more:
Coronavirus an ‘existential threat’ to Africa and her crowded slums


So how do the two building designs work?

The two proposals for intensive care units and testing facilities use modified shipping containers as the supporting structure. You can see the full designs and specifications here.

The hospital structure is simply a large shed that houses ICU bays. A nurses’ station is located in the centre.

The testing centre is a drive-by place to conduct COVID-19 tests and either process them when a fast test is available or store them for shipping to laboratories.

Used shipping containers are cheap and easy to find. They are made from a steel frame with corrugated steel panelling, which makes them very strong.

Both schemes use prefabricated panels for exterior and interior walls. Window units will be integrated into panels. These come in standard sizes that easily pop into place.

The two design approaches do have differences, however.

The front entry of the rapid deployment hospital annexe.

The hospital uses a full-length 12-metre container. The shipping container acts as the structural and spatial core of the hospital building.

When unpacked, the container sits in the middle of the hospital and supports long-span steel trusses and the roof. It houses office and storage space.

Inside the hospital annexe the container houses the nurses’ annexe and supports the building trusses and roof.

The prefabricated panels form both the outside walls and interior partitions. End walls are made of transparent glass to allow natural light into the interior.

Interior bays for patients are also prefabricated. These line the exterior walls, leaving space for hospital staff to circulate between the ICU bays and central container.

In contrast, the testing centre is a single-unit building made from a half-length six-metre container. A large overhanging canopy covers the roof and front deck to protect against sun and rain.

A water storage tank rests on the roof underneath the canopy. A generator sits on one side. There is a scrub sink and changing area outside, with a curtain that allows for privacy and a bin to dispose of protective equipment.

The exterior of the testing centre has a changing area and sink.

The container doors support storage cabinets for test kits on their inside wall. These doors can swing open so they are flush with the front facade. In this position, the cabinets face the front deck for easy access by nurses and doctors.

The front deck of the testing centre showing storage cabinets.

The interior has ample storage and office furniture.

The testing centre office.

Construction of the prototype test centre was due to begin on April 15. To date, the team has raised A$30,000 to support the effort but needs $20,000 more. At A$3,125 per square metre, compared with about A$10,000 per square metre for usual construction, these solutions are affordable and can be produced and delivered very quickly.The Conversation

Deborah Ascher Barnstone, Professor, Course Director Undergraduate Studies, School of Architecture, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Australia: Detention Centres Are a Disgrace


The link below is to an article reporting on the recent 4 Corners program and the Australian detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. I have seen the program and it has confirmed my view that our asylum detention centres are a disgrace and should be shut down. We as a country need to reconnect with the principles of compassion and humanitarianism. 

For more visit:
http://www.islandsbusiness.com/news/australia/1021/ashamed-to-be-australian-doctor-slams-manus-island/

Australia: Catastrophic Bushfire Conditions Generate Massive Bushfire Across the South East


South-Eastern Australia is in the grip of a heatwave with temperatures threatening the record books. Temperatures across the country are reaching between 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), with the hottest recorded temperatures in many centres threatened, as well as the highest temperature every recorded in Australia.

For more on the fires visit:
Battlefront NSW: State on bushfire red alert | News.com.au.

Kazakhstan: "There is no persecution in Kazakhstan"


As Kazakhstan is about to begin the role of 2010 Chairperson-in-Office for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the country continues to violate its OSCE human rights commitments, reports Forum 18 News Service.

One Protestant pastor is facing criminal charges for "causing severe damage to health due to negligence" because he prayed with a woman about her health, at her request. The KNB secret police declined to explain why a pastor praying for people attending his church should be a matter for criminal charges.

Asked whether Pastor Kim is being targeted for his faith, the KNB officer told Forum 18 News Service that: "There is no persecution in Kazakhstan". The authorities also continue to throughout Kazakhstan close Christian-run rehabilitation centres for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction.

Report from the Christian Telegraph

AUSTRALIA – BUSHFIRES: DEATH TOLL REACHES 175 AND CLIMBING


The death toll in the bushfires in Victoria has now reached 175 and continues to climb. There are some 5000 people homeless at this stage, with many more homes and communities under direct threat from the still raging bushfires.

In a display of national generosity and sympathy for bushfire victims, Australians have been digging deep and donating millions of dollars to the various relief appeals, as well as turning up at evacuation centres with donations of clothes, food, furniture and other items. Others are simply turning up and doing what they can to help out.

Sadly, just as there are many seeking to provide what assistance they can, there are others who are behaving in ‘un-Australian’ ways – there are looters operating in the bushfire regions, arsonists continuing to light fires, sight-seers getting in the way of fire-fighting and relief operations, etc. The full weight of the law has been promised against all arsonists that are caught and there are several currently known to police that are being pursued.

ABOVE: Aftermath of the bushfire at Chum Creek, near Healesville

ABOVE: Aftermath of the bushfire at Marysville

ABOVE: Aftermath of the bushfire at Narbethong

RED SKIES, MUD RAIN AND FALLING ICE


The weather around Australia was somewhat strange yesterday with a number of centres experiencing massive dust storms stirred up by years of drought and driving winds. The red centre at Alice Springs was enveloped in red enduring a massive red dust storm that then swept across New South Wales (NSW).

The far western NSW town of Broken Hill was soon enveloped by the massive dust storm and when a thunderstorm struck the town, the town began experiencing red mud rain that turned whatever wasn’t yet red, red. Later in the day the town was struck by hail storms that caused major damage around the town. A tree fell on a car and one of the pubs in town lost its roof.

In another NSW town (Hay), a shed apparently was seen rolling down the main street.

 

 

 

ABOVE: The weather in Broken Hill

ABOVE: The weather in Broken Hill

ABOVE: An approaching storm front near Alice Springs