Successful architectural design is partially defined by the way it enhances human connections. Now in an almost upside-down world triggered by the pandemic, there is an increasing demand for architecture that promotes social distancing. Healthcare facilities all over the world have been severely defeated by this infectious disease exposing the fragility of the global public health service. The existential threat to the human populous has paved way for numerous innovations to overcome this shortcoming by catering to the urgency categorised on the basis of need, functionality and scale. These emerging systems are currently in the state of constant flux as every new information regarding the virus results in a strategized evolution to battle the pandemic more vigorously. 

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Makeshift COVID hospitals have been our strongest ally against the coronavirus. The phase-wise conversion of an affected country’s healthcare system begins with hospitals scaling up to residences, schools, hotels, stadiums and exhibition centres. Complimentary to this conversion scheme, individual static and mobile pods, public transport has used to accommodate escalating contaminations.

Each conversion reinstates value in the statement that compartmentalized building design is essentially an alliance of rooms given function by society. As the priorities of functions become a blur, the differentiation loses value. 

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 The following are 8 inserts and conversions categorized as makeshift COVID hospitals.

Makeshift covid hospitals in India - Sheet1
Illustration depicting converted inserts created for covid health care through a city in order of conversion and scale ©Urvi Pawar

1. GENERAL TO SPECIALITY 

ALL-INCLUSIVE HOSPITALS TO COVID HOSPITALS
Preparing existing health care 

This transformation caters to orient all hierarchical structures for COVID treatments. The standard necessity panning across cities is a facility meant for isolation and systematic management of affected personals. Broad planning conceptualizes zones for staff, short stay, severe cases, critical cases. Detailed framework dictates domains for a reception, inventory, housekeeping, training, communication, security, store, waste management apart from hospice.

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Makeshift covid hospitals in India - Sheet2
Illustration depicting transformation of small scale health care hospital post-pandemic ©Urvi Pawar

2. INSTITUTION TO HOSPICE

SCHOOLS + COLLEGES TO COVID HOSPITALS
Extending preparation to government non-healthcare buildings 

Schools and colleges facilitate the easiest conversion of the non-healthcare building to a healthcare facility. Typecast as a public building makes it a faster accusation. Following an almost identical transformation pattern to general hospitals, the hierarchical built of the institution provides compartmentalization needed to contain coronavirus. The large floor plan encourages customization opportunities. Sizeable spaces like indoor gymnasiums and auditoriums are used for patients in stage 1 isolation. The classrooms and complementary facilities double up as a general ward for stage 2 isolations. Staff and principals cabins cater to stage 3 isolation for critical patients. Conventionally equipped with catering, waste management, and parking facilities for a large populace facilitates this transformation. 

Makeshift covid hospitals in India - Sheet3
Illustration depicting transformation of educational institution post-pandemic ©Urvi Pawar

3. LAZARETTO B&B

HOTELS TO COVID HOSPITALS
Converting luxury setups to essential services

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 To ensure restricted movement of the virus from the international borders, hotels were one of the first public buildings converted into quarantine centres. The privacy ingrained in the conception of this building typology makes it an apt venue for residence while practising social distancing. While the shell and core remain intact, changes in furnishing enable it for essential COVID care. The hotel rooms double up as isolation pods with all the other functions remaining intact but exercising caution as per prescribed protocol.

Makeshift covid hospitals in India - Sheet4
Illustration depicting transformation of small scale Hotel post-pandemic ©Urvi Pawar

4. RESIDENT NURSING

RESIDENCES TO COVID HOSPITALS
Categorising priorities of affected personals, collaborating hospital care with self-care  

Independent home isolation is sanctioned only for homeowners with 2 BHK apartments, mainly because the guidelines notify a separate bedroom and bathroom for the patient in isolation. In an almost apocalyptic approach, the bedroom converts itself to provide complete reinforcements. It needs to be well ventilated aiding elimination of contaminated air droplets. This isolated chamber has pockets for the patients- resting area, clothes and utensils quarantine post washing, food and medicine storage and if needed work and hobby station. 

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Makeshift covid hospitals in India - Sheet5
Illustration depicting transformation of 2-BHK Apartment post-pandemic ©Urvi Pawar

5. PLAY TO CLINIC 

STADIUMS TO COVID HOSPITALS
Amassing large floor areas for COVID care 

Pre pandemic, humans often gathered willingly together in such large numbers only for entertainment or play. The rising number of affected people has changed the need for these large assembly spaces. The large floor plans are essential to contain people with stage 1 illness who cannot practise home quarantine. 

An army of temporary commodities is used for this transformation. Extensive changes involve a retractable roof + temporary flooring with the electrical circuit on the ground. Mobile washrooms, sanitation stations and water facilities complete infrastructural needs. Minimal temporary hospital furnishing for bedding and dining complete the healthcare loop. 

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Makeshift covid hospitals in India - Sheet6
Illustration depicting transformation of Sports Stadium post-pandemic ©Urvi Pawar
Makeshift covid hospitals in India - Sheet7
Illustration depicting transformation of Sports Stadium post-pandemic ©Urvi Pawar

6. SANATORIUM FAIR

EXHIBITION CENTER TO COVID HOSPITALS
Calculative encroachment of open space owing to the limitations in permanent structures 

Post exhausting limited accommodation in permanent non-healthcare buildings. Significantly large entities like exhibition centres have been amassed owing to their temporary and flexible nature. The system of transformation is similar to that used in stadiums. The major difference being the external structure needs to be constructed. The shell and core are constructed using repetitive block footing combined with steel columns and trusses. While prefabricated and detachable walls form the fringe encasing the roof is covered using tensile material.

7. MOBILE INFIRMARY 

MEDIUM-SIZED TEMPORARY STRUCTURES – MICRO CLINICS AS COVID HOSPITALS
Aiding imports to accommodate increasing indisposed people.

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As the disease spread into remote locations, an increasing need to develop a decentralized approach emerged for rural healthcare. Rapidly deployable portable hospital units with an estimated assembling time of 4 hours cater to this need. The desired intent of this unit is to detect, screen, identify, isolate and treat COVID 19 patients. Foldable to 1/5th of its deployed size, the zonal planning constitutes spaces of a doctor’s room, an isolation room, a medical room/ward and a twin-bed ICU, maintained at negative pressure. Constructed using prefabricated modular technology with a telescopic frame, these do it yourself systems are proving to be a great breakthrough in COVID care. The units are available in custom sizes depending on the scale of need.

Makeshift covid hospitals in India - Sheet8
Illustration depicting depicting transportable quick assembly Medicab ©Urvi Pawar

8. CURATIVE CARE COMMUTE

RAILWAY COACHES TO COVID HOSPITALS
Amassing all possible public spaces with compartmentalized living

For complete isolation, the entire coach window panel is wrapped in multiple layers of mosquito nets. Mainly functioning as isolation wards for patients unable to quarantine at home, each compartment is prescribed for a single capacity usage – each coach will be able to accommodate 9 patients. Retaining the structure of the coaches and redefining detailing like removal of middle berths, extra bottle and charging points, foldable stools for medical equipment encased within the compartment with a plastic curtain enabling it for COVID care. Out of the 4 toilets flanking the coach, one is converted to the bathing unit. To shield the non AC compartments, insulated bamboo covers the sidewalls and roof of the coach.

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Makeshift covid hospitals in India - Sheet9
Illustration depicting transformation of Railway Coaches post-pandemic ©Urvi Pawar

India is highly dependent on these makeshift hospitals to contain the spreading virus and has saved numerous lives. This architecture prioritising survival has opened new avenues and allows design ideologies that were previously shunned in the pre-pandemic world. A new spin to a modern architecture based on rapid industrialisation, the fast assembly of these institutions is going to be a governing principle in the post-pandemic world. 

Author

A practicing Architect and an eager activist, Urvi is a staunch believer that architects have a subconscious impact on all the collaborative networks of the society. An underlying sense of responsibility towards this impact governs her practice and commentary.

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